What Is A Sacrifice?

  • Rav Shimon Klein

 

Introduction and Context

 

What is a sacrifice? Is it a Divine law? Is it human nature? What is the psychological movement that accompanies the sacrificial act? These are questions that we will address in this study. We will consider these issues in light of the first two parshiyot in the book of VayikraParashat Vayikra and Parashat Tzav.

 

Before we begin, let us take a step backward to view the wider context of the book of Vayikra, to the process that passes over the people of Israel as it is reflected in the books of Shemot, Vayikra, and Bamidbar. This perspective will enable us to better understand the nature of the events in the book of Vayikra in general and the nature of the sacrifices in particular.

 

The Differences Between the Three Books

 

The book of Shemot deals with three main issues. It opens with an account of the formation of the people of Israel in Egypt and their many years of bondage, which end with the exodus. The next section describes the meeting that takes place between the people of Israel and God on Mount Sinai. This meeting is accompanied by a great crisis – the making of the golden calf. In essence, the sin of the golden calf expresses the great gap between the spiritual standing of the people who just came out of slavery in Egypt and the lofty spiritual and moral demands that follow from their encounter with God and His Torah. This section ends with the giving of the second set of tablets and a complicated process of repair and appeasement. In the third section, the people of Israel are commanded to build the Mishkan,which will allow a permanent encounter between God and His people. The fire and cloud that had appeared to them on the top of the mountain will now dwell among them in their camp.

 

There is an obvious question: The second part of the book – Israel's encounter with God at Sinai – was accompanied by great crises. Now, the people build a Mishkan into which God is supposed to enter. But can the two coexist, one alongside the other? What is the solution to the vast gap separating between God and His people?

 

Two different conceptual solutions are proposed, one in each of the two next books, Vayikra and Bamidbar "intensifying God's presence" in the book of Vayikra and "empowering the people of Israel" in the book of Bamidbar. From beginning to end, the book of Vayikra records the words of God.[1] God's words are heard from the Tent of Meeting, and later mention is also made of Mount Sinai. There are no dates in this book. Scripture presents God's words from a point of origin that is independent of time. Neither the people's free choice nor their standing is an issue; the only thing that matters is God's high and elevated words and commands.

 

The book of Bamidbar also opens with an account of God's words to Moshe in the Tent of Meeting, but the issue there is not the content of God's words, but rather the standing of the people. The people's empowerment is very much at the center of things. The book begins with the organization of the camp, noting the names of the tribal princes, the numbers of the people, and the arrangement of the tribes, "every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard." Later, it deals with the many crises that arise and with the ways in which those crises are handled.[2]

 

These are two different models for the connection between the people of Israel and God who dwells among them, and between the two there is a process. The first step is taken in the book of Vayikra: "The Holy speaks its piece." It presents the thought that precedes action, the demand for perfection, from God's workshop. In parallel fashion, the book of Bamidbar takes the matter one step further. It focuses on the people who carry these ideas, their empowerment and what they go through. This is a more mature and more complicated stage, and as such it is spread out over a longer period – beginning in the second year and continuing until the fortieth year – embracing everything that was established and that developed during this period.

 

What is a Sacrifice?

 

Let us now go back to the book of Vayikra and try to understand what a sacrifice is. The section dealing with sacrifices begins with the words: "If any man of you bring (yakriv)an offering to the Lord, of the cattle shall you bring your offering, of the herd, and of the flock" (Vayikra 1:2). A person brings to God an animal that previously had been distant from Him. The word yakriv is in the hif'il conjugation, which signifies setting an action into motion, a process that creates an inner relationship toward that action.[3]

 

Time and time again, the text emphasizes God's presence: with its association of the sacrifice to Him: "If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord"; the place where the animal is brought: "He shall offer it at the door of the Tent of Meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord" (v. 3); the site of the slaughter: "And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord" (v. 11); and the result: "It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to the Lord" (v. 13). All of these point to a type of encounter that takes place between man and God when he offers a sacrifice, but attention must be made to the nature of this encounter. What happens there?

 

Unlike a situation in which something belongs to a person and he gives it to God as a gift, here we are not dealing with a transfer of ownership. The reason: In the book of Vayikra there is only one domain, the domain of God.[4] In this sense, the sacrificial process clarifies for a person and even creates the psychological position that recognizes the fact that even before something is brought to God, it already belongs to Him.

 

We already described the intensified presence of God in the book of Vayikra; we can now identify its realization in the passages dealing with the sacrifices. A person offers a sacrifice, a step which involves a physical renunciation of a considerable amount of property. Moreover, it involves the integration of the perception that his property in general does not belong to him. These steps are likely to dispel the person's sense of control and power, and in its place fashion a more spiritual and abstract position. The next step is the sacrifice itself, which includes a series of actions that relate to life itself and blood. Life returns to its source, and the blood, which is the life, is sprinkled on the altar. In this way the person turns his encounter with "this world," the limited world, into an encounter with something that is above limits. He associates life with what is above life.

 

The Difference Between Parashat Vayikra and Parashat Tzav

 

We opened this shiur with the question: Is a sacrifice a Divine law? Is it human nature? It would appear that the answers given to this question in Parashat Vayikra and in Parashat Tzav are different.

 

In Parashat Vayikra we read:

 

And the Lord called to Moshe, and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord, of the cattle shall you bring your offering, of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it at the door of the Tent of Meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord… (Vayikra 1:1-5)

 

The subject in these verses is the person who brings the sacrifice. The actions that he performs include bringing the animal, putting his hands on the animal's head, and killing the animal before God. At a second stage, the sons of Aharon the priests join in and complete his actions:

 

And the priests, Aharon's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the Tent of Meeting. And he shall flay the burnt-offering, and cut it into its pieces. And the sons of Aharon the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: and the priests, Aharon's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the firewood, that is on the fire which is upon the altar but its inwards and its legs shall he wash in water, and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to the Lord. (ibid. vv. 5-9)

 

A person slaughters his sacrifice before the Lord, after which the process of offering the sacrifice is continued by the priest, who brings the blood and sprinkles it, flays and cuts the animal into pieces, puts the fire on the altar, and burns the pieces on the altar until the sacrifice achieves its purpose: "A burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to the Lord." This is what happens with a burnt-offering. Scripture later describes the process that takes place with the other sacrifices: a person brings his offering to God, and the priest completes the task.

 

In Parashat Tzav we read:

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: Command Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the Torah of the burnt-offering: It is the burnt-offering, which shall be burning upon the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning in it. And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put on his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire has consumed with the burnt-offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. And the fire upon the altar shall be kept burning in it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt-offering in order upon it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace-offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Vayikra 6:1-6)

 

These verses are addressed to Aharon and his sons, and they systematically ignore the person bringing the sacrifice and the meaning of the sacrifice in relation to him.[5] The subject of these verses is "the service of the altar," which includes many components: "This is the Torah of the burnt-offering"; "And the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it"; "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out." The verbs relate to the object of the action, rather than to the performer of the action. It is the priests who are in charge of these tasks and allow them to happen.

  

A question that has been raised by many before me: Why is it necessary that there be a division between Parashat Vayikra and Parashat Tzav? Both parshiyot deal with the laws governing the sacrifices – the burnt-offering, the meal-offering, the peace-offering, the sin-offering, and the guilt-offering. One might have expected that all of the material should be combined together. A different heading implies a different meaning, a different outlook presented in each parasha. The first parasha views the sacrifice from the perspective of the person who offers it, a position in which a certain worldview is embedded. The second parasha views the sacrifice from the perspective of the service of the altar, and it too contains a certain worldview. In the coming lines, I would like to decipher these two approaches.

 

The Sacrifices in Parashat Vayikra

 

I wish to begin with the structure of Parashat Vayikra. It has two headings, the first relating to the burnt-offering, the meal-offering, and the peace-offering (Vayikra 1:1-2), and the second to the sin-offering (4:1). In both, God's words are directed to Moshe, with an instruction that he should speak to the people of Israel. Two additional headings relate to the guilt-offering, the first to the guilt-offering for misuse of sacred articles (v. 14) and the second to the guilt-offering for robbery (v. 20). In both, God's words are directed to Moshe, without an instruction that he should speak to the people of Israel.

 

            The heading for the burnt-offering, which also serves as a general heading for the sacrifices, reads:

 

And the Lord called to Moshe and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord, of the cattle shall you bring your offering, of the herd, and of the flock. (1:1-2)

 

This is followed by sub-headings that relate to different situations: "If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish" (1:3); "And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt-sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish" (1:10); "And if the burnt-sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons" (1:14); "And when any will offer a meal offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour" (2:1); "And if you bring a sacrifice of meal-offering baked in the oven" (2:4); And if your sacrifice be a meal-offering baked in a pan" (2:5); "And if your sacrifice be a meal-offering baked in a frying pan" (2:7); "And if you offer a meal-offering of your first-fruits to the Lord" (2:14); "And if his offering be a sacrifice of peace-offering, if he offer it of the herd" (3:1); "And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace-offering to the Lord be of the flock" (3:6); "And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord" (3:12). This is the first unit.

 

            Once again, we find a heading, this time for the sin-offering:

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a soul shall sin through ignorance. (4:1-2)

 

 This is immediately followed by different circles of sinners: "If the priest that is anointed do sin to bring guiltiness on the people" (4:3); "And if the whole congregation of Israel sin" (4:13); "When a ruler has sinned" (4:22); "And if anyone of the common people sin through ignorance" (4:27); "And if a person sin, and hear the voice of adjuration, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of it" (5:1); "And if he be not able to bring a lamb" (5:7).

 

The next heading is for the guilt-offering:

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: If a person commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance in the holy things of the Lord. (5:14-15)

 

This is followed by a description of a doubtful guilt-offering: "And if a person sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he know it not, yet he is guilty" (5:17); and finally another heading for a guilt-offering for robbery: "And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: If a person sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord" (5:20-21).

 

            It is difficult not to recognize the hierarchy – a sublime sacrifice stationed at the beginning, followed by a gradually decreasing process until we reach the last sacrifice. This has many expressions, starting with the headings. The heading for the burnt-offering serves as the heading for the entire section, and it consists of a call to Moshe, and only afterwards the words that were spoken to him. The reference to speech "from the Tent of Meeting" places a finger on the holy place from which the words are said. The instruction to speak to the children of Israel also appears in full format: "Speak to the children of Israel and say to them" (v. 2). All these attest to the high position in which the person offering the sacrifice is found. In contrast, in the opening verse of the section dealing with the sin-offering, there is no call of God, there is no reference to the Tent of Meeting, and there is no detailed instruction to speak to the people, but simply: "Speak to the children of Israel saying" (4:2). Below these sacrifices are the guilt-offerings, in the heading to which there is no mention at all of the people. God speaks to Moshe without mentioning that he in turn must say these things to the people.

 

Essence and Meaning

 

Parashat Vayikra opens with a description of a situation: "If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord." This is not a Divine command, but rather a story about a person who brings an offering to God. What drives him to do so? Neither God nor the Torah. This is an inner position, an expression of his own will as a person. As Chazal say:

 

"If any man of you bring an offering.” You might say this is a decree. Therefore, the verse says: “If any man of you bring” – this is only an option. (Sifra, Vayikra 2:4)

 

The fact that the person bringing the offering is "of you," a member of the children of Israel, radiates on the nature of the sacrifice. All this sets the burnt-offering in a position of preferred status. This is a sacrifice at its best – from the perspective of the person offering it.[6]

 

In our study of Parashat Vayikra, we opened with our explanation of the first verse in the book: "And the Lord called to Moshe and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying" (Vayikra 1:1). We questioned the nature of God's call to Moshe, which precedes His speaking to him. According to our reading, God invites Moshe to the Divine domain, from which He can speak to him. In order for Moshe to be able to be exposed to the word of God, he must first leave his place and adopt the perspective of God, who dwells in the Tent of Meeting. We explained this verse as serving as an introduction to the entire book of Vayikra, a book consisting of God's words to man, from the Tent of Meeting to the children of Israel.

 

We will now direct this idea to the section dealing with the sacrifices. We can argue that it finds its finest expression in the burnt-offering, which embodies man's abandonment of his personal, private place, as he answers the Divine call with the most perfect gift that is set at the beginning of the parasha – an offering of a large, male animal. Use is made of a special expression, "that he may be accepted before the Lord," which speaks of favor in a situation when the person is "before the Lord." The passage ends with the element that is unique to a burnt-offering: "And the priest shall burn all on the altar to be a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to the Lord" (1:9). It is burnt in its entirety on the altar – “a sweet savor to the Lord."[7]

 

From the most perfect offering, a burnt-offering of the herd, the section continues with a burnt-offering of the flock and of the birds,[8] thus expanding toward the spiritual periphery of the idea of a sacrifice. In the case of a meal-offering, the giving is of a lesser degree, as it is not entirely burnt on the altar, but rather part of it is given to the priests,[9] and there too there is gradation.[10] Finally, we come to a peace-offering, which can be either male or female, and only certain portions of it are offered to God,[11] and there too there is a hierarchy with the different kinds of animals.[12]

 

These three offerings are defined as free-will offerings. The next two offerings are obligatory offerings, and they embody the reality of sin. They reflect free will – not free will that raises man to a new spiritual position, but rather a fall, from which the person bringing the sacrifice wishes to extricate himself. We find here a special division between the various offerings, one that depends not on the type of sin, but rather on the status of the sinner. An anointed priest who sinned “to bring guiltiness on the people” brings the most important offering (a bullock), in the most significant form (an inner sin-offering – slaughter before the Lord and sprinkling the blood before the Lord, in front of the veil of the sanctuary). This is followed by the sin-offering of the whole congregation of Israel (the "eyes of the congregation," according to Chazal, refers to the Sanhedrin). The offering is still a bullock, and it is offered as an inner sin-offering. The third offering is the sin-offering of a prince – a male kid goat, which is an outer sin-offering. The last is the sin-offering of a common person, a female kid goat.

 

The last offering is the guilt-offering: Why is it pushed off to after the sin-offering? There are two possible answers: Regarding a sin-offering, the Torah does not distinguish between sins; the issue is the very existence of sin. The form of atonement is a separate discussion, and it follows from the status of the sinner (anointed priest, "whole congregation of Israel," ruler, common person). Regarding a guilt-offering, the issue is the specific sins for which the sinner is guilty: a guilt-offering for misuse of sacred items, a doubtful guilt-offering, a guilt-offering for robbery. In the context of the structure of the text, there is a movement from the general to the specific. Another reason: As opposed to a sin-offering, which speaks of a specified sin, "any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done,"[13] and thus the repair of the sin is clear and defined, the obligating factor of a guilt-offering is "guilt" – an inner position in which the person stands. Beyond the sin in question, there is a kind of crisis of confidence, and in this sense the response is not as simple as in the case of a sin-offering. The first guilt-offering – the guilt-offering for misuse of a sacred item – in its essence describes a crisis of trespass against God. A doubtful guilt-offering speaks of a situation in which a person does not know whether or not he sinned. This ignorance embodies a position of distance, lack of connection, and detachment. A guilt-offering for robbery includes a series of crises of confidence in interpersonal relationships: through the denial that another person deposited an item with him, through robbery, or through non-payment of wages.

 

The Sacrifices in Parashat Tzav 

In the lines that follow, we will survey some of the differences between the two parshiyot and outline the nature of the sacrifices in Parashat Tzav.

 

As opposed to Parashat Vayikra, which addresses "the children of Israel," Parashat Tzav addresses Aharon and his sons (6:2). As opposed to the structure of the first parasha,which opens with the free-will giving of a burnt-offering and ends with the obligatory bringing of a sin-offering and a guilt-offering, in Parashat Tzav,the structure is based on the level of the offering's sanctity: It opens with a burnt-offering, which is entirely burnt for God, continues with a meal-offering, a sin-offering, and a guilt-offering, all of which are sacrifices of greater holiness, and concludes with a peace-offering, which is a sacrifice of lesser holiness.[14] As opposed to the process of offering a sacrifice that is described in Parashat Vayikra, Parashat Tzav deals with the laws that apply after the animal is sacrificed.[15]

 

In the coming lines, we will read the first verse in Parashat Tzav, and it will serve as an introduction to the chapters concerning the sacrifices that follow it.

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying, Command Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the Torah of the burnt-offering it is the burnt-offering, which shall be burning upon the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning in it. (6:1-2)

 

            This section opens with a directive to Moshe to command Aharon and his sons – not to talk to them, but to command them. It seems that this is a heading that invites a section of statutes – "How it works," what are the rules, and what are the laws. The phrase, "This is the Torah of the burnt-offering" also points to a Torah, to a way that things work, to a system of laws that brace the sacrifices. The verse continues and identifies the burnt-offering: "It is the burnt-offering, which shall be burning upon the altar all night until the morning" – this is a new identification, unlike the identification familiar to us from the previous parasha. In contrast to the sacrifice of the person or the will accompanying it there, now the issue is "the Torah of the burnt-offering," which means: its burning on the altar all night until the morning. The time of the offering is also part of the "Torah" – "all night until the morning." As opposed to the system of time that is used in other contexts, where the night precedes the day, the system of time in the Temple is different – the day is followed by the night. The section ends with the summary: "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar" – the fire that burns upon the altar is something that cannot be waived, like a law of nature.

 

            We asked above: What is the essence of the sacrifices in this parasha? Now we can answer this question. As opposed to concern with the person bringing the sacrifice and the uplifting process that he experiences in Parashat Vayikra, now the heading is: "This is the Torah of the burnt-offering." There is a heavenly Torah for the sacrificial service, there are statutes, and now this is the subject. Later it will be "the Torah of the meal-offering," "the Torah of the sin-offering," of the guilt-offering and of the peace-offering, and in each of them the nature of the sacrificial service will be portrayed in a different manner. At first, a separate Torah, in the course of which everything is burnt on the altar, and later additional sacrifices from which a priest or even an ordinary Israelite may eat. These embody a "Torah" that is more connected to the mundane world and the reality of natural life. Both of these will serve as a kind of encounter with the Shekhina, as it appears in the book of Vayikra, time and time again upon the altar.[16]

 

Epilogue

 

We opened this study looking back to the end of the book of Shemot, to the building of the Mishkan, which established God's permanent presence in the world. Alongside His presence, a question arises: What is the answer to the great gap, which already exacted a steep price at the time of the sin of the golden calf?

 

Two solutions are proposed for this contradiction, one in each of the two books that follow. The book of Vayikra proposes intensifying God's presence in the world, while the book of Bamidbar proposes empowering the people of Israel. In this study, we entered the gates of the two parshiyot which open the book of Vayikra. Moshe is called by God from the Tent of Meeting, and he is exposed to God's perspective on reality. Now this fact is clarified in a more precise manner. This is an invitation to bring to expression the nature of man who stands before God and wishes to bring a sacrifice. This desire embodies the will to breach the material circle in which he has been forcibly immersed, and thereby to encounter God. Only in an additional circle, one that is based on the first, do the rules and statutes that brace the Torah of the sacrifices appear.

 

The Sages of the Midrash speak about the sacrifices that will be nullified in the future. It seems that the arrangement of the two sections – "nature" followed by "Torah" – can serve as an important component in studying this issue, in anticipation of the future.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 

 



[1] To the exclusion of two sections which record events that include the actions or words of Moshe: the section dealing with the days of consecration and the eighth day (chapters 8-10) and the section dealing with the blasphemer (chapter 24).

[2] See at length our study of Parashat Bamidbar.

What is the relationship between the two books? As stated, the building of the Mishkan is described at the end of the book of Shemot, and at the beginning of the books of Vayikra and Bamidbar we encounter the word of God that issues forth from the Tent of Meeting. In a fascinating manner, several chapters later in both books we find an account of the dedication of the Mishkan and a series of events with a certain overlapping between the two books. The book of Vayikra focuses on the commandments relating to the sacrifices, while the book of Bamidbar concentrates on the arrangement of the camp. There is a fascinating difference between the two accounts: an event in which fire descends from heaven onto the altar in the book of Vayikra, and an event in which the tribal princes offer their sacrifices in the book of Bamidbar.

[3] It would have been possible to describe the sacrificial act using the kal conjugation: yikrav. This would put the focus on the sacrifice, on its being brought close, as opposed to the hif'il conjugation, which describes the involvement of the person bringing the sacrifice. Similarly, the term lif'ol (kal) means to execute an action, whereas lehaf'il (hif'il) means to set the action in motion. One who "acts" assumes a position of doing. One who "sets an action in motion" assumes a position of controlling. As one who sets the action in motion and controls it, his relationship to it is deeper. 

[4] See at length our study of Parashat Vayikra. This is consistent with a general phenomenon in the book of Vayikra, over the course of which it is not man who creates sanctity. There is no mention of the fact that the sanctuary was built by people. Even the consecration of an animal for the sacrificial service is learned not from the verses in the book of Vayikra, but from verses in the book of Bamidbar: "Our Sages taught: 'That which is gone out of your lips' – this is a positive commandment; 'you shall observe' – this is a negative commandment; 'and do' – this is an injunction to the court to make you do; 'according as you have vowed' – this is a vow; 'to the Lord your God' – this refers to sin-offerings and guilt-offerings, burnt-offerings and peace-offerings; 'of your freewill' – this has its literal meaning; 'which you have promised' – this refers to things sanctified for the repair of the Temple; 'with your mouth' – this refers to charity" (Rosh Hashana 6a, based on the verse [Devarim 23:23]: "That which is gone out of your lips you shall observe and do; according as you have vowed of your freewill to the Lord your God, which you have promised with your mouth"). The exception is the section dealing with valuations which closes the book, in the course of which a person consecrates to God. This consecration is unique in that the value of the consecration is determined by a priest or in accordance with a fixed value set by the Torah. In this form, it embodies the absolute value of the consecrated item.

[5] Here it does not say, "And it shall be accepted for him," or the like, as is stated in the previous parasha.

[6] In an outer circle, we find God's directive relating to the kind of animal which should be brought: "Of the cattle shall you bring your offering, of the herd, and of the flock." Among the cattle, mention is made first of the herd, the more important sacrifice, and then the verse continues with animals of lesser importance. 

[7] The Written Law does not mention that the hide of the burnt-offering is given to the priests. It should further be noted that this is the only place in the book of Vayikra where the word nichoach is written fully. Later, the word appears many times with a defective spelling. The meaning: The fullness of the word reflects God's response to the perfection found in a burnt-offering of the herd, more so than in any other sacrifice.

[8] The heading presents two sacrifices: "If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord, of the cattle shall you bring your offering, of the herd, and of the flock" (1:2). The heading is cattle, which the verse spells out as referring first to the herd and afterwards to the flock. Later in the section, the point of departure is a male of the herd: "If his offering be a burnt-offering of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish" (1:3). Afterwards a male of the flock: "And if his offering be of the flocks, namely of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt-offering; he shall bring it a male without blemish" (1:10). And finally birds: "And if the burnt-sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of birds, then he shall bring his offering of the turtledoves or of young pigeons" (1:14). 

[9] "‘And the remnant of the meal-offering shall be Aharon's and his sons'; it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire" (2:3).

[10] The first description refers to flour as it is – a kind of generalization before going into the particulars. This is followed by an offering baked in the oven, which is the basic meal-offering; then a meal-offering baked in a pan with a small amount of oil; then a meal-offering baked in a frying pan with a lot of oil; and finally a particular meal-offering – a meal-offering of the first-fruits.

[11] "And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace-offering an offering made by fire to the Lord; the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards" (3:3).

[12] Scripture speaks first about an offering of the herd: "And if his offering be a sacrifice of peace-offering, if he offer it of the herd, whether it be a male or a female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord" (3:1). Afterwards, of the flock: "And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace-offering to the Lord be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish" (3:6): a lamb (3:7) or a goat (3:12).

[13] "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done" (4:2).

[14] Sacrifices of lesser holiness are eaten by the people bringing them (after the breast and thigh are given to the priests), as opposed to sacrifices of greater holiness, which are eaten by male priests. Sacrifices of lesser holiness may be slaughtered anywhere in the Temple courtyard, as opposed to sacrifices of greater holiness which may only be slaughtered in the northern part of the courtyard. Sacrifices of lesser holiness may be eaten for two days (i.e., the day on which the animal is slaughtered, the following night, and the next day), as opposed to sacrifices of greater holiness, which may only be eaten on the day on which the animal is sacrificed and the following night.

[15] There are, however, exceptions: In Parashat Vayikra,there is no description of the way that a guilt-offering is brought, but such a description is brought in Parashat Tzav. Regarding the meal-offering, such a description is found in both parshiyot.

[16] A clear expression of this is found in the description of the dedication of the Mishkan, in the course of which God's resting in the sanctuary is expressed by the fire that descends upon the altar: "And Moshe and Aharon went into the Tent of Meeting and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat: which, when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces" (9:23-24).