Lines of Communication

Lines of Communication

Mar 27, 2004 By Rachel Ain | Commentary | Vayikra

Has God ever called out to you? What did God say? What was God looking for? What kind of response did you give? It is not so often that God calls each of us directly. In fact, I would assume that most of us, while constantly striving to establish a relationship with God, have not received the call, as Moses does in the beginning of Leviticus, the third book of the Torah.

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The End Never Justifies the Means

The End Never Justifies the Means

Mar 27, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra

Traditionally, young children were inducted into the text-based culture of Judaism through the study of Leviticus. The curriculum may be a vestige of the Temple-era when priests served as the official transmitters of Judaism. Long after the Temple was gone, homiletics reinforced ancient practice: “God said that since both sacrifices and children are in a state of purity (i.e., without blemish or sin,) let the pure occupy themselves with the pure” (Vayikra Rabbah 7:3) Perhaps it was also felt that the specificity of the laws of Leviticus posed less of a risk to faith than the theology-laden narratives of Genesis.

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In Anticipation of the Meal

In Anticipation of the Meal

Mar 15, 2003 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Vayikra

Perhaps it is the most troubling passages of the Torah which cause us to think and learn the most. At first glance, we may find them most difficult to accept — and may want to reject them out of hand. But at second and third glances, we may find that our discomfort gives way to new learning and new understanding.

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Hearing God in the Silence

Hearing God in the Silence

Mar 15, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra

I never heard my parents address each other by their first names. They showed their mutual affection, which remained palpable till late in their lives, by using pet names. My father called my mother “Mutti” (from the German word for mother – Mutter) and my mother always called him “Schatzi” (from the German word for treasure – Schatz). As my father aged, he developed the habit of saying “Mutti” to himself audibly and often, without ever intending to attract her attention. Alone in his study, he would emit the sound of her name when he rose from his desk to get another book or just reclined to rest for a moment. She was clearly the anchor of his life.

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The Third Party

The Third Party

Mar 16, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Vayikra

Of the various sacrifices discussed in Parashat Vayikra, the one which struck me this year had, ostensibly, nothing to do with offending or pleasing God! It concerned a guilt offering brought to God after one had wronged his “neighbor” or “fellow”:

“If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by dealing deceitfully with his fellow in the matter of a deposit or a pledge, or through robbery, or by defrauding his fellow, or by finding something lost and lying about it ; if he swears falsely regarding any one of the various things that one may do and sin thereby… ” (Leviticus 5:21).

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Va-yikra’s Lessons for Conservative Jews

Va-yikra’s Lessons for Conservative Jews

Mar 16, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayikra

This week marks the beginning of the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, alternately referred to in Hebrew as Torat Kohanim, the ‘teaching of the priests’, and in Latin as Leviticus. Modern scholars and traditional commentators alike highlight the positioning of Vayikra , literally at the heart of the Five Book of Moses. Such placement of Vayikra speaks to the centrality of its teachings in the Israelite experience, especially as they pertained to the sacrificial cult practiced by the Israelites in the First and Second Temple periods.

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The Psychology of Sacrifice

The Psychology of Sacrifice

Mar 31, 2001 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Vayikra

The sacrificial order laid out in the fourth and fifth chapters of the book of Leviticus may seem alien to modern readers, but in its textual organization and minutiae of ritual, it reflects a deep psychological understanding of the nature of error and atonement in public and private life.

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Purim Vs. Va-yikra: Order Vs. Chaos

Purim Vs. Va-yikra: Order Vs. Chaos

Mar 18, 2000 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayikra | Purim

This week we begin our reading of the book Va-yikra, Leviticus, which details the rites of the sacrificial cult, the dynamics of ritual pollution and purification, and the path toward priestly holiness. As a number of scholars have commented, Leviticus is essentially about order. For bible scholar, Everett Fox, Leviticus describes, “a realm of desired order and perfection, a realm in which wholeness is to reign, in which anomaly and undesired mixture are not permitted, and in which boundaries are zealously guarded” (Fox, The Five Books of Moses, 501). This sense of ordered perfection becomes all the more striking in light of our reading of Megillat Esther next Monday evening. At its core, the Scroll of Esther is about chaos and disorder – a world turned upside down. Which is more authentically Jewish? And how are we to understand the juxtaposition of these world views?

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The Altar at Home

The Altar at Home

Mar 20, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra

I have a deeply personal attachment to parashat Vayikra. Many years ago it was the parasha on which my son celebrated his bar-mitzva. Though he attended a day school, I prepared him for the occasion as my father had once prepared me, and as my son will one day prepare his children. For half a year, I would corral him regularly to teach him the Torah portion according to the eastern European cantillation common in American and the haftara according to the uncommon German cantillation on which I was raised.

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The Sin of Remaining Silent

The Sin of Remaining Silent

Mar 28, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra | Shabbat Rosh Hodesh

We don’t admit errors easily. There is probably nothing more difficult for us to say than “I’m sorry.” Each time we bring ourselves to do it, we acknowledge that we are less than perfect and far from infallible. Resistance wells up from the very depth of our being. How often have we been scene to the following Nietzschian dialogue: “‘I have done that?’ asks my memory. ‘I cannot have done that,’ says my pride and remains inexorable. Eventually memory yields.” Without a measure of self-awareness and courage, truth invariably falls prey to our psychological needs.

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To Be Heard Is to Be Helped

To Be Heard Is to Be Helped

Mar 23, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra

Translations conceal as much as they convey.

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Why Leviticus?

Why Leviticus?

Mar 1, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayikra

A couple of years ago, a commercial publisher put out a new popular, abridged edition of the Bible. Among the omissions was the entire book of Leviticus, whose preoccupation with arcane ritual allegedly holds no interest for the modern reader. I suspect that many of us would agree. We prefer prophets to priests, ethics to ritual and verbal prayer to animal sacrifices. Our egalitarian sensibility is likewise offended by hierarchical religion.

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Interpreting God’s Voice

Interpreting God’s Voice

Mar 19, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Vayikra

Modernity erupted in Jewish history in 1782 in the garb of midrash. That year Naftali Herz Wessely, a disciple of Mendelssohn, published a Hebrew tract called Words of Peace and Truth. Aimed at the rabbinic leadership of the Ashkenazic world, it delivered a brief for the validity of secular education. A new era of political inclusion was dawning for European Jews which would require of them a far greater command of the language and culture of the country in which they lived.

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Vayikra

Vayikra

Jan 1, 1980

21 The people I formed for Myself
That they might declare my praise.

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Vayikra

Vayikra

Jan 1, 1980

1 The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying:

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