In this torah portion we learn the details of what Aaron and his sons Nadav and Avihu (the first High Priests) had to do when sacrifices were given. They had to wear special clothing when they disposed of the leftover ashes from the burnt offerings. They also had to make sure that the fire on the altar never went out. For each of the different types of sacrifices, instructions are given regarding which part of the offering was given to the priests to eat.

The commandment forbidding the Israelites from consuming blood is repeated.

The portion then continues to describe the rituals of how Aaron and his two sons were inducted into their new roles as priests. First, they needed to wash, dress in special clothes and were anointed with oil. They then offered up a series of sacrifices and slaughtered a ram. Some of the blood was then put on Aaron and his sons’ right ears, thumbs and big toes.

The initiation continues for seven days of sacrifices and other rituals, while Aaron and his sons remain in the “Tent of Meeting”, which is linked to the Mishkan.

Torah Portion in English

1) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2) Command Aaron and his sons thus: This is the ritual of the burnt offering: The burnt offering itself shall remain where it is burned upon the altar all night until morning, while the fire on the altar is kept going on it. 3) The priest shall dress in linen raiment, with linen breeches next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 4) He shall then take off his vestments and put on other vestments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 5) The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, not to go out: every morning the priest shall feed wood to it, lay out the burnt offering on it, and turn into smoke the fat parts of the offerings of well-being. 6) A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out.

7) And this is the ritual of the meal offering: Aaron’s sons shall present it before the Lord, in front of the altar. 8) A handful of the choice flour and oil of the meal offering shall be taken from it, with all the frankincense that is on the meal offering, and this token portion shall be turned into smoke on the altar as a pleasing odor to the Lord. 9) What is left of it shall be eaten by Aaron and his sons; it shall be eaten as unleavened cakes, in the sacred precinct; they shall eat it in the enclosure of the Tent of Meeting. 10) It shall not be baked with leaven; I have given it as their portion from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 11) Only the males among Aaron’s descendants may eat of it, as their due for all time throughout the ages from the Lord’s offerings by fire. Anything that touches these shall become holy.

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. Who is talking in in this text?
  2. What is Moses commanded to do?
  3. Describe the rules about what the priest wears? What does he wear and when?
  4. What are the rules about the fire?
  5. What does the priest do with the ashes?
  6. Who is Aaron?
  7. What is the meal offering made out of?
  8. What do Aaron and his sons eat? What do we call this today?