Parashat Vayikra 5784

March 18, 2024

Rabbi Susan Elkodsi (AJR '15)

When I began studying Hebrew grammar with my friend Rabbi Amanda Brodie, one of the first things I learned about was the vav ha-hippukh (flipped), also called “the consecutive vav” or “narrative vav.” Normally, this letter serves as a prefix meaning “and,” “but” and sometimes “or,” and the word following is in the imperfect tense (an uncompleted action). But when this letter has a patah vowel (straight line) and the next letter has a dagesh (dot) inside, it “flips” and translates to something like, “and then….” basically suggesting a continuation of the narrative, and a perfect (completed) action.

Read more >

Parashat Vayikra 5783

March 20, 2023

Click here  for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Keeping focus on sacred connections A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayikra by Rabbi Steven Altarescu (’14) The Book of Vayikra begins where Exodus leaves off. The Israelites have finished building the Mishkan and God has shown approval through the appearance of a cloud of God’s Presence. Exodus thus ends triumphantly with a description of the work being finished; “Now the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of YHVH filled the Mishkan” (Exodus 40:34) We are then told that Moses: “was not able to come into the Tent of Meeting for the cloud was dwelling on it and the Presence of YHVH filled the Mishkan.” (Exodus 40:35) Vayikra begins with God calling out to Moses: “YHVH called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting…” (Leviticus 1:1) The building of the Mishkan and the blessing of God’s presence add a sense of completion to a long process of becoming a nation and receiving...

Read more >

Parashat Vayikra 5782

March 10, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah The Covenant of Salt, the Salt of Your Covenant A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayikra By Rabbi Katy Allen (’05) וְכׇל־קׇרְבַּ֣ן מִנְחָתְךָ֮ בַּמֶּ֣לַח תִּמְלָח֒ וְלֹ֣א תַשְׁבִּ֗ית מֶ֚לַח בְּרִ֣ית אֱ-לֹהֶ֔יךָ מֵעַ֖ל מִנְחָתֶ֑ךָ עַ֥ל כׇּל־קׇרְבָּנְךָ֖ תַּקְרִ֥יב מֶֽלַח: You shall season your every offering of meal with salt; you shall not omit from your meal offering the salt of your covenant with G!d; with all your offerings you must offer salt. —Leviticus 2:13 Waves— lapping gently against warm sand, crashing ferociously against rocky crags, mixing with sweet water in sheltered estuaries, cresting endlessly across vast open oceans— a constant reminder of the everlasting brit melah, covenant of salt. (Num. 18:19) Ancient is this covenant, from Creation, (Rashi Lev. 2:13) when G!d decreed that salt would be offered on the altar with the sacrifices— salt, derived from the sea, perhaps to enhance the taste, perhaps to remember Creation,...

Read more >

Parshat Vayikra 5781

March 19, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Sacrifices, Disappointment, and Hope A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayikra By Rabbi Lizz Goldstein (’16) Good news: I have been vaccinated! Perhaps I should make an offering to God in gratitude. What might that look like? This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayikra, details several types of sacrifices that will be brought into the freshly-built Mishkan: the olah, or burnt offering; the shelamim, or peace/wholeness offering; five variations of minha offerings, ways to give meal for those who cannot afford the animals of the other offerings; the hattat, or sin offering, with variations depending on the type of sin and sinner; and lastly the asham, or guilt-offering for trespass specifically against God. While most of these give at least some indication of why a person might bring them, the olah and the minha offerings seem to be “just ‘cuz”. So, in...

Read more >

Parashat Vayikra 5780

March 26, 2020

The Teachings of Leviticus for This Present Moment A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayikra By Rabbi Len Levin This week we begin reading the book of Leviticus. The interpretation I offer here has benefited from the perspectives of the contemporary scholars Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger) and Jacob Milgrom (The Anchor Bible: Leviticus), both of whom have enriched my understanding of the author’s complex outlook. The underlying unity of the book’s diverse themes can be seen in the theme of purification—purification through ritual (especially sacrifices—chapters 1–10 and dietary laws—chapter 11), purification through medical diagnosis and quarantine (the laws of leprosy and family purity—chapters 12–15), and purification through ethical living and social justice (the teaching of “love your neighbor” (Lev. 19:18) and the Sabbatical / Jubilee years—chapter 25). In the book’s coda (chapter 26), the author promises peace and prosperity if these teachings are taken to heart in the life of...

Read more >