(Leviticus: 1:1-5:26)     

1. [Leviticus 1:1…] Why are the details of every type of sacrificial offering so different? What type of personality is the Torah trying to develop by forcing us to focus so much on details?

2. The Rambam (in The Guide for the Perplexed ) says that animal sacrifices were commanded only because the Israelites were used to them in Egypt. However, they were later replaced by prayer. In which ways is prayer a replacement for sacrifices?

3. [2:14] “If you bring an offering of the first grain…”  The first of fruits and grains are offered to God. The first is special. However, in our tradition old age is more respected than youth. In which situations is the first or the new more respected,  and in which situations is the old more respected?

4. [5:21] “A person who sins and commits a “me’ila” offence against God and he lied to his neighbour about…”    “Meila” is a term that means misusing the property of the Temple in a profane way.  This verse says that using God’s name to swear to a lie, is like using a vessel from the Temple for an unholy purpose. How do you understand that comparison?

5. [Purim]  The story and the laws of Purim are quite serious. The customs, however, are much less serious—costumes, noise when we hear “Haman”, purimshpiels etc.  What caused our tradition to make Purim into such a “fun” festival?

Commentary

[1:9] “…a sweet smell for God.”

A smell can be sensed from far away, so anything that can be sensed before reaching it is called a “smell”.  The most important quality of a sacrifice is that the person who brings it should repent and improve his or her actions in the future. Without that desire for improvement, God says, “Of what use are all of your sacrifices (Isaiah 1:11). The “sweet smell” is the anticipation of the good actions in the future.

–R. Yitzchak Mayer of Gur, Poland, (1799-1866)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer