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.

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“If the person’s means are not even sufficient for these animals or birds, then an ephah (measurement) of fine flower is to be the offering to clear sin. He shall put no oil upon it, nor incense. He shall take it to a priest, who will take a handful, a memorial portion, and smoke it on the altar as a fire offering to God. The priest will effect atonement for his sins and he will be forgiven. And it shall belong to the priest like the homage offering.

Breach of Trust

“If a person commits a breach of trust and thoughtlessly trespasses against any of the holy things of God, he shall bring an expression of his guilt to God. One ram, without blemish, shall be given. This ram shall be of value equal to the money offering given in the Sanctuary. And he shall make restitution, and shall add to it one-fifth and give it to the priest. The priest shall then effect atonement for him.

“A person who sins for acting negligently incurs guilt. He shall bring a ram to the priest to effect atonement for him for his act of negligence and he will be forgiven. It is a guilt offering. He is surely guilty before God.

“A person sins and commits a breach of trust against God by making a denial to his neighbor with regard to something entrusted to him or a loan or an object taken by robbery. A person also sins when he withholds something from his neighbor or if he has found a lost article and denies it or has sworn to a lie. If the person knows of the sin and breach of trust against God, then guilt is incurred.

“The person shall restore what was stolen or withheld, or what was entrusted to him for safekeeping, or the lost article which he has found, or anything else about which he lied. The person shall pay for it in capital, equivalent to its value, and shall add one-fifth of the value of it to atone. On the day the person acknowledges his guilt, the person shall pay for it to the one to whom it is rightfully due. But as for his guilt offering, he shall bring it to God. He shall bring an unblemished ram as a guilt offering and give it to the priest who shall effect atonement for him before God.

“Then the person will be forgiven regarding any one of the things done to incur guilt.”

Questions for Discussion

1) Why is God so specific in what kind of offerings can be given to God for different purposes? What difference does it make what kind of offering or how it is made, as long as it is an offering?

2) What is guilt? What do you do with your guilt? Why do we need to seek forgiveness for our sins and for the guilt incurred?

3) How can an offering to God on an altar in the holy Sanctuary clear one of sin or guilt? Why does a Priest need to “effect the atonement?” Do we still need a Priest to “effect the atonement?” Why or why not?

4) Is it necessary to seek forgiveness from God and from another human? Can you do one and not the other? Why or why not?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

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