Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thoughts on Vayikra

How pleasant it is to see order being made out of parshat Vayikra.

I.  KORBAN NEDAVA - Voluntary offerings
A. Ola (entire korban burnt on the altar) (Chap. 1)
1. 'bakar' - from cattle
2. 'tzon' - from sheep
3. 'of' - from fowl

B. Mincha (a flour offering) (Chapter 2)
1. 'solet' - plain flour mixed with oil and 'levona'
2. 'ma'afeh tanur' - baked in the oven
3. 'al machvat' - on a griddle
4. 'marcheshet' - on a pan (+ misc. general laws)
5. 'bikkurim' - from wheat of the early harvest

C. Shlamim (peace offering, partly eaten by owners) (Chap. 3)
1. bakar - from cattle
2. tzon - from sheep
3. 'ez' - from goats

[Note the key phrase repeated many times in this unit:
"isheh reiach nichoach l-Hashem."]

A. * CHATAT (4:1-5:13)
1. for a general transgression
[laws organized according to violator]
a. 'par kohen mashiach' (High Priest) - a bull
b. 'par he'elem davar' (bet din) - a bull
c. 'se'ir nassi' (a king) - a male goat
d. 'nefesh' (layman) a female goat or female lamb
2. for specific transgressions ('oleh ve-yored')
a. a rich person - a female goat or lamb
b. a poor person - two birds
c. a very poor person - a plain flour offering

B. * ASHAM (5:14-5:26) - animal is always an 'ayil' (ram)
1. 'asham me'ilot' - taking from Temple property
2. 'asham talui' - unsure if he sinned
3. * 'asham gezeilot' - stealing from another

[Note the key phrase repeated numerous times in this unit:
"ve-chiper alav... ve-nislach lo."]

Now, a quick thought of my own. In category II/A/1, "chatat for general transgressions", there are four possibilities, depending on who is bringing the offering: priest, rabbi, king, or commoner.

These four categories have a parallel in a statement from Pirkei Avot (4:17):

"R' Shimon says: There are three crowns - the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty - and the crown of a good name is greater than [all of] them."

The four "chatat" categories correspond to the four crowns R' Shimon ends up mentioning. You might think that the first three crowns, since they seem to have all the glory as well as the biggest sacrifices, are the most important ones. But in fact, the crown of the "good name", which is accessible to all, is the most important. It appears more humble, but it in fact has greater significance than all the others.


The korban oleh veyored (5:1-13) is unique among the sin-offerings in that it requires confession (5:5). This offering was reserved for a special set of unintentional sins - failure to give testimony, false oaths, and some types of impurity. Why does only this sacrifice require confession and not the others?

Based solely on these verses (ignoring later halachic developments which I don't have time to look up) it seems that this confession was not part of the repentance process. Rather, it had the practical purpose of protecting people from the consequences of the sin. False oaths, ungiven testimony, and impurity all potentially affect other people, and the sinner was required to rectify this damage before offering the sacrifice. This is similar to the person who stole (5:20-26) who had to return the stolen item before bringing a sin-offering.

It seems that the confession we do as part of the repentance process is a separate issue. In practice, then, for these sins you'd have "confess" (or "admit" to the sin) twice. Once to God, and once to the people you may have hurt.

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