16/17 Mar: Shabbat Hachodesh (Vayikra) comes in 5:52 pm, goes out 6:55 pm
In Parshat Vayikra, we learn of the many sacrifices of animals and grain; these were familiar to all of the people of the ancient world. Most societies, however, used these sacrifices to propitiate and “feed” their Gods, who would become angry and destructive if they weren’t fed. God, in contrast, turned sacrifice into communication, with the assistance of the Levitical priests, the Kohanim.
Some offerings were to be made, either daily or upon certain occasions, by the Kohanim on behalf of the entire community; many, however, were brought as needed by members of the community. Both gratitude and repentance could be expressed through the language of sacrifice.
Rather than an expression of fear, sacrifice became a mode of communication. That alone was a major step toward knowing God. Later would come words, prayers — as the prophet Hosea said, prayers are “the sacrifices/bulls of our lips” (Hosea 14:2).
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman.