Weekly Portion: Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5)

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called “sacrifices” or “offerings.” According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a “sacrifice” implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An “offering” implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word iskorban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.

Ramban, one of the essential commentaries on Torah, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva — correcting his erring ways.

This week’s portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer “blood” to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings — varied upon one’s ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.

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Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

“And He (God) called to Moses, and God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying…” (Lev. 1:1).

The Talmud (Yoma 4b) teaches that from the word “saying” (which denotes “say to others”) we learn that a person has no right to repeat what someone tells him unless that person gives him explicit permission to do so. Below are a few of the basic laws pertaining to secrets:

1) If someone tells you private information about his business or any personal matter, you are forbidden to disclose it to others. Your doing so could cause the person who confided in you financial loss, embarrassment, or other damage. Even if the speaker did not request that the matter remain secret, you are not allowed to repeat it. It is self-evident that the speaker does not want such information to be divulged.

However, if that person related information concerning himself in the presence of three or more people and did not request secrecy, you are permitted to relate it to others. We can assume that he does not mind if the information will be known. If, however, someone tells you about his wrongdoings in the presence of three, you are nevertheless forbidden to try to spread that information to belittle him. It is forbidden for anyone to deliberately publicize his actions to embarrass him. (Chofetz Chayim, ch. 2).

2) When someone reveals to you seemingly harmless information in a manner which shows that he would like it to be kept secret, you are forbidden to repeat it to others even if he did not explicitly tell you to keep it secret. (B’air Mayim Chayim 2:27)

3) You have no right to repeat someone’s secret just because you add the phrase, “Don’t repeat this to anyone else.” (Pele Yoatz, section sode)

4) Husbands and wives have no right to tell each other secrets that someone told him or her in confidence. (Pele Yoatz, section sode)

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