Parashat Vayikra, The Salt of the Covenant of our God


In this week’s reading from Parashat Vayikra (Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1-5:26) the Lord calls to Moshe from the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד) saying דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אָדָם כִּי-יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן לַיהוָֹה מִן-הַבְּהֵמָה מִן-הַבָּקָר וּמִן-הַצֹּאן תַּקְרִיבוּ אֶת-קָרְבַּנְכֶם: ג   אִם-עֹלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ מִן-הַבָּקָר זָכָר תָּמִים יַקְרִיבֶנּוּ אֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד יַקְרִיב אֹתוֹ לִרְצֹנוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה:  1:2Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock.  1:3 ‘If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. (NASB)  The Lord instructs Moshe on the burnt offering (1:3) the man bringing the offering he is to lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf (ד   וְסָמַךְ יָדוֹ עַל רֹאשׁ הָעֹלָה וְנִרְצָה לוֹ לְכַפֵּר עָלָיו:).  The blood is taken by the priest to make atonement on the altar.  The animal is skinned and cut into pieces and burned on the altar.  The young bull is slaughtered at the entrance to the Ohel Moed.  If the offering is from the flock of sheep or goats, the animal is to be slaughtered next to the altar (1:11).  If the offering is a burnt offering of the birds (pigeon or turtledove) the priest is to wring off its head, the blood poured out on the side the altar, and it is offered up as a whole burnt offering (1:14-15).  The grain offering that is presented is made of fine flour with oil and frankincense (2:1).  The grain offering is offered up in smoke before the Lord (2:2).  When bringing a grain offering that is baked as cakes it is to be unleavened bread (2:4), it is broken into pieces and oil is poured upon it.  The Lord commands of the grain offering saying יא   כָּל-הַמִּנְחָה אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַיהֹוָה לֹא תֵעָשֶֹה חָמֵץ כִּי כָל-שְֹאֹר וְכָל-דְּבַשׁ לֹא-תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָֹה: 2:11 ‘No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. (NASB)  The Lord commands that every grain offering be seasoned with salt so the salt of the covenant is not lacking from the grain offering (2:12-13).  The first fruits are commanded to be brought as a part of the grain offering before the Lord.  If the offering is a part of the peace offering, the animal is slaughtered at the entrance to the tent, the blood is sprinkled on the altar, and the fat of the entrails are offered along with the two kidneys and the liver are offered on the altar before the Lord (3:1-16).  Because of this for all generations as a perpetual statute, we are not to eat the fat or the blood (3:17).  The Lord then speaks to Moshe saying that if a man sins unintentionally in the things that are commanded not to do he is to bring an offering to make atonement for the sin that is committed (4:1-12).  If the entire congregation of Yisrael sins and does not know it they are to bring an offering before the Lord (4:13-20).  The command repeats that if anyone unintentionally sins he is to bring an offering for the forgiveness of sins (4:27).  The scriptures also says יז   וְאִם-נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וְעָשְֹתָה אַחַת מִכָּל-מִצְוֹת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא תֵעָשֶֹינָה וְלֹא-יָדַע וְאָשֵׁם וְנָשָֹא עֲוֹנוֹ:  5:17 ‘Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment. (NASB)  Unintentional sin or unknowingly sinning before God (ignorance) does not exempt a person from the consequences of sin; an offering must be brought before the Lord in order to be forgiven.  Read More here.