Vayikra starts with God telling Moses to explain the details about the five types of sacrifices.

The voluntary Burnt Offering, or עֹלָה (Olah) means literally “that which goes up”. The entire animal is burned except for the hide. Instructions for sacrificing different types of animals (like birds or goats) are included here. (Leviticus 1:1-17)

In the Meal Offering, or מִנְחָה (Minchah), unleavened flour is used. A portion of it is burned on the altar and the remainder is given to the High Priests (Aaron and his sons). This section goes into detail about how the offering is to be presented and how other ingredients are to be included. This is also a voluntary sacrifice. (Leviticus 2:1-16)

The Sacrifice of Well Being – זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים (Zevach Shelamim) requires an unblemished cow, sheep or goat. This section goes into great detail regarding how each type of animal is to be prepared and offered. All the fat is to be burned on the altar – it is forbidden to consume fat and blood. This is the third voluntary sacrifice. (Leviticus 3:1-17)

The Sin Offering – חַטָּאת (Chatat) is a required sacrifice presented by an indivdual or group which unintentinally violates one of the commandments. The type of offering depends on the economic situation of the individual. A priest or the community must offer up unblemished bulls. A tribal chief offers up a goat. A member of the populace can bring a goat or sheep.

(Leviticus 4:1-5:13)

The Chatat offering is also to be brought if a person, fails to come forward to testify; comes in contact with uncleanliness, such as a carcass of an unclean animal; comes in contact with human uncleanliness; or fails to fulfill an oath. Once the individual realizes that a transgression was committed, the offering would be based on the economic circumstances of the person who violated the law.

The final type of sacrifice is the Guilt Offering, or אָשַׁם (Asham) is to be brought by a person who has commited robbery or fraud. The penalty is to return the item stolen, plus a monetary fee. In addition this penalty also applies to someone who unintentionally sinned regarding the property of the sanctuary or in fulfilling one of the commandments.

Torah Portion in English

1) The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: 2) Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them:When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the Lord, he shall choose his offering from the herd or from the flock. 3)If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall make his offering a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, for acceptance in his behalf before the Lord. 4) He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, that it may be acceptable in his behalf, in expiation for him. 5) The bull shall be slaughtered before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar which is at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 6)The burnt offering shall be flayed and cut up into sections. 7) The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and lay out wood upon the fire; 8) and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall lay out the sections, with the head and the suet, on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. Who is speaking to whom in my Parshah?
  2. What is the Tent of Meeting?
  3. Why are sacrifices required?
  4. Can an offering have a blemish?
  5. During the sacrifice, who deals with the animal’s blood?
  6. What does expiation mean?
  7. Who is Aaron?
  8. What is the job of Aaron’s sons?
  9. What do the priests do with the animal after it is killed.