Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26 (6:7) with an emphasis on parashah #1, 1:1 – 14

Vayikra
“He called”
Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26 (6:7) with an emphasis on parashah #1, 1:1 – 14

            Simplistic, maybe simpleton.  Yes, that’s me.  I certainly feel that way when something that I think is definitely obvious strikes me for the first time.  Unless I am misunderstanding something, which I have never done before (note: show a hint of sarcasm in your voice), it occurred the other day as I read the first parshah / portion of this week’s readings.
            All sentences that are properly constructed have a subject and a verb.  The subject alerts us as to who is the actor or receptor of the verb, while the verb, especially action verbs reveal…well, they reveal the action.  There are two nouns that I would like to focus on in tonight’s lesson, and those are the words “he”, in reference to those men of Israel who are bringing a burnt sacrifice; and “the sons of Aaron”, which is also stated in the term “cohanim” or “cohen”.
            “He” brings the defect-free animal of the herd to the tent of meeting so that ADONAI may accept “him”, the offerer.  Next, “he” is to lay his hand upon the animal’s head, so that by his offering of this animal of his flock, it will be accepted on “his” behalf to make atonement for “him” (vs 3).  With one hand on the head of the beast, “he” is then to slaughter the young animal before ADONAI.
            As the animal of the herd is slaughtered one of the “cohanim” is to catch the blood so that it may be presented.  And how do they present the blood to the HaShem?  They are to take the blood and splash it against all the sides of the altar, the altar which is located at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
            In succession of this action, “he” is to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces.  My assumption is that they either have been taught how to do this, or the cohanim, or maybe some of the other Levites, guided them through this process.  The “sons of Aaron” make sure that there is fire on the altar and that the wood is arranged in the proper fashion.  The “cohen” then takes the head and the fat of the sacrifice and places them on the wood of the fire.
            Why?  Why the head and the fat?  Why are they placed first?  Sin does not just happen.  Let us suppose that an evil thought, assign whatever degree of evil you wish, comes into our cranium.  Did that thought get thought as a result of having observed the “world” around us?  Did the enemy “plant” it?  However the thought got there, it did.  But what did we do with it then?  Did we take it captive (II Cor. 10:5)?  Did we verify its credentials?  Did we entertain it?  Apparently we did.  I do recognize that not all burnt offerings were sin offerings; likewise, neither did they forgive sin, for if they had there would have been no need for the Moshiach to go to the cross.
            Regardless, our thoughts are what direct us in our walks.  Similarly, there is a seemingly “enjoyable” aspect to sin; it has a draw which, if we are not prepared to do battle against this desire, will draw us in with the hopes of consuming us, much like the enticing sinners (Proverbs 1:10 – 19) as well as the “loose woman” of Proverbs 2:16 – 19.
            Our thoughts are something we must deal with, but the fat is what makes meat so savory, so flavorful.  From the offerings the priests were permitted to eat, they were not permitted the fat; it was to have been boiled away.  Certainly Eli’s sons disobeyed that directive, for we only need to look at I Sh’mu’el (Samuel) 1:12 – 17 to see that they craved the fat of the offerings.  Dare I say that they also craved the “worldly blessings” of their positions as well, for they were savory to them?
            “He”, the offerer, it seems is to wash the entrails and lower parts of the legs with water.  Is it not true that the Lord looks on the inward parts?  We must do likewise if we are serious about our commitments to following and obeying Him.  It is the “cohen” who causes all of it to go up in smoke on the altar as a burnt offering (Lev. 1:9).  As a result of the offerer’s and cohen’s obedience to the Lord and to the process, it is a fragrant aroma for ADONAI.  The fragrant aroma is as a result of the obedience, not the sacrifice itself.
            The process is the same if the animal is an offering from the flocks.  Verses 10 – 13, the closing of this portion, are somewhat repetitive with the previous seven verses.
            Now I will admit that I have never heard any teaching on exactly how an offering is presented other than the fact that it was the one bringing the offering who slew it while his hand was upon its head.  Reading this selection though, has given me pause to consider that the presenter of the offering had a more active role than I had ever considered before.  I am sure that if I am mistaken someone will set me straight.  Right or wrong, I relish the chance to be directed to the truth of the interpretation of this reading.

            Father, if there is anything here that is not of You, would You please protect the hearts, minds, and spirits of those who read it.  May it lead none of us astray in any way.  Amen.

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