Well, that is the portion in a nutshell. The Sefer ha-Chinuch (the book that talks about all 613 commandments) tells us that there are sixteen commandments in this parasha, with eleven of them being positive and five negative. Here they are:
- To carry out the procedure of the burnt offering as prescribed in the Torah
- To bring meal offerings as prescribed in the Torah
- Not to burn honey or yeast on the altar
- Not to omit the salt from sacrifices
- To salt all sacrifices
- The Sanhedrin must bring an offering when it rules in error
- To bring a sin offering for transgression
- Anybody who knows evidence must testify in court
- To bring an offering of greater or lesser value (if the person is wealthy, an animal; if poor, a bird or meal offering)
- Not to decapitate a fowl brought as a sin offering
- Not to put oil on the meal offerings of wrongdoers
- Not to put frankincense on meal offerings
- One who profaned property must repay what he profaned plus a fifth and bring a sacrifice.
- To bring an offering when uncertain of guilt
- To return the robbed object or its value
- To bring an offering when guilt is certain
This is an awfully long list of rules around something we don't even do today. When the last Holy Temple was destroyed, we stopped doing sacrifices and replaced them with prayer. Our cycle of prayer matches the cycle of sacrifices. It is a way to show our connection and commitment to G-d and something of a touchstone to refer back to when we need G-d's physical presence in our lives.
Parshat Vayikra from G-dcast.com
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A special thanks to G-dcast for the weekly parasha cartoon.
Talia Davis is the daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandaughter of rabbis. She directs the Jewish Portal at Patheos and manages the site's online community.