Vayikra: A Summary of the Parashah

God commands Moses regarding various types of offerings: under what circumstances they should be offered, and what they should consist of.

Print this page Print this page

The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

Moses has conducted a ceremony to anoint the Tent of Appointed Meeting and the Priests who will officiate in it. A cloud now covers the Tent of Appointed Meeting, and the Presence of the Lord fills the Tabernacle.

God calls to Moses, “Explain to the sons of Israel the ways of bringing offerings to God. There will be offerings of animals and grains and fruit. Animals for sacrifice shall be male and without blemish. These animals shall be killed and washed and burned so each shall smoke on the altar in the Tent of Appointed Meeting. This will be for an ascent offering, an offering made by fire in expression of compliance to God and to make atonement before God.

“For the grain, make the offering with fine wheat flour and oil and incense. Put it straight on the altar. Anything leavened shall be made into a fire offering. You shall season every offering of grain with salt.

“For the offerings of cattle and small livestock, all the fat belongs to God. It shall be an everlasting statute for your descendants in all your dwelling places not to eat any fat, nor any blood.

Inadvertent Sins

“If a person inadvertently sins, then sin offerings are to be made. If the entire council of Israel sins inadvertently and something is hidden from the community, guilt will be incurred. If the sin becomes known in the community, then the community shall bring an offering for sin. A bull is to be brought by the elders of the community and made into an offering to clear the community of sin.

“If a prince commits a sin, then he has incurred guilt. He shall take a buck from the goat species and sacrifice its blood upon the altar of ascent offering, then burn its fat in a fire offering for peace. This is an offering to clear him of sin.

“If any person from among the people sins by doing something God commands shall not be done, then guilt will be incurred. A she-goat, without blemish will be taken for this sin offering. Then the priest will make the fat go up in smoke as an expression of compliance to God. The priest will effect atonement for him for his sin and he will be forgiven.

“A person incurs guilt when he is a witness but does not testify. A person incurs guilt when he touches an unclean animal or unclean human. Even when the touching goes unnoticed, guilt is incurred when the sin is discovered. A person incurs guilt when he swears in an oath to deny or to grant something but does neither.

“If a person incurs guilt, he shall acknowledge to himself that he has sinned and he shall bring to God an offering for his guilt. The offerings of small livestock, a female sheep or goat, shall clear him of his sin. If the person’s means are not sufficient enough for sheep, then two turtle-doves or two young pigeons can be offered to God. One is an offering to clear sin and one is an ascent offering.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.