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22.03.2012 20:20    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: weekly  parashah  shul  rabbi  

Rabbi Cowen's Corner (Notes on the Parsha)

Notes on the Parsha

The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), is also called Torat Kohanim. This is because the Laws of the Priests appear predominantly in this Book and details mostly the korbanot (offerings) that were brought in the Mishkan/Tabernacle. The first group of offerings is referred to as korban olah,a burnt offering. The animal is brought to the Mishkan's entrance. For cattle, the one bringing the offering sets his hands on the animal. Following this ritual, it is slaughtered and the kohen sprinkles its blood on the altar. The animal is skinned and cut into pieces. The pieces are arranged, washed and burned on the altar. A similar process is described involving burnt offerings of other animals and birds. The Parasha goes on to describe the various meal offerings. Part of the meal offering is burned on the altar, and the remainder is eaten by the kohanim. Mixing leaven or honey into the offerings is prohibited. The peace offering, Korban Shelamim, part of which is burnt on the altar and part is eaten, can be either from cattle, sheep or goats. The Torah explicitly prohibits eating blood or chelev (certain fats in animals). The offerings that atone for inadvertent sins committed by the Kohen Gadol, by the entire nation, by the leaders of tribes and by the average individual are detailed. Laws of the Korban Asham, guilt-offering, which atones for certain verbal transgressions and for transgressing laws of ritual purity, are listed. For those who cannot afford the normal guilt offering, a meal offering is listed. The offering to atone for misusing property sanctified for a holy purpose, laws of the "questionable guilt" offering, and offerings for dishonesty are detailed.
The final reading of the four special readings before Passover is read this Shabbat. It is called Parashat HaChodesh. "This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year." (Shemot 12:2). The passage giving the commandments associated with the very first Rosh Chodesh Nissan in Egypt, is read.
The first day of Nissan was and always remains a historic day for the Jewish nation. It was the day when the people received their first commandment as a nation: Sanctify the New Moon. Commentators explain that, by virtue of this Commandment, G-d gave the Jewish people mastery over time. From that moment onward, the calendar with its cycle of festivals could exist only when the Sages of Israel declared the New Month. This signifies more than control over the reckoning of time, the dating of legal documents, and all the platitudes to which man is subject in his everyday life. It represents the potential for renewal.

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