Vayikra, Shnayim Mikra, Learning Chumash

The Gemara says in Brachos(8a – 8b) says:

“A person should always complete his [study of the parsha] with the congregation – [by studying] shnayim mikra v’echad targum. Anyone who does this will have long days and years.”

This obligation is codified in the halacha (Rambam Hilchos Tefilla 13,25; Shulchan Aruch O.C. 285,1).

The Ramchal in Derech Hashem writes that just reading the Chumash has tremendous spiritual ramifications. In addition, the more we understand it, the higher the spiritual influence.

As we know, Vayikra is probably the hardest book of the Chumash to relate to in the absence of sacrifices in our day.

Take a look at Rabbi Ari Kahn on The Mystery of Sacrifices or Rabbi Noson Weisz on Right to Life vs. Right Life for some deeper understandings.

Then pull out a Chumash, a Metsudah or an Artscroll and go through the parsha with Onkeleles, Rashi or the Art Scroll commentary. We need to make Torah a central component of our lives and learning the parsha regularly is an essential step.

As a final resource here is Rabbi Rietti’s outline of Vayikra. (You can purchase the entire outline of the Chumash here).

# 1 Korban Olah
# 2 Korban Mincha
# 3 Korban Shelamim
# 4 Korban Chatat
# 5 Korban Asham & Me’ila

# 1 Korban Olah
* Olat Nedava, individual free-will offering
* Ox / Sheep or Goat / Birds: Mature Doves or Young Doves
* Male
* Without blemish
* Completely burned on Mizbayach

# 2 Korban Mincha
5 Types:
1 Solet: Fine Flour Offering
2 Me’Afar Tanur: Challa & Rekikim
3 Machvat: Shallow Pan Offering
4 Marcheshet: Deep-Fry Offering
5 Shtey HaLechem: Double-Loaf Offering
* First four above are all Matza, the fifth is bread

1 Minchat Solet:
* Matza from Olive Oil, Flour & water, oil, mix, oil, Incense (levona), Kemitza, baked, oil, Salt.
* Kometz & Incense burned together on Altar
* Remainder of Mincha eaten entirely by Kohanim (Kemitza removed from raw dough, all other Mincha offerings, Kemitza removed after baking)

2 Minchat Me’Afar Tanur:2 types: Challa & Rekikim (wafers)
* Challa: Matza, baked on oven floor, no pan.
* Rekikim: Thin Matza wafers with oil smeared on in X shape. Made of Oil, flour & water, mixed, more oil, baked, Petita (folded several times till breaks into pieces) Incense added, Kemitza taken, salted and Kemitza burned on Altar, then remaining Matzot eaten entirely by Kohanim.

3 Minchat Mahvat: Shallow Pan Offering
* Preparation same as deep fry offering, but no oil was poured after baking.
* Matza baked on oven floor without a pan, was thus more brittle.

4 Minchat Marcheshet: Deep-Fry Offering.
* Oil mixed with flour and water, again mixed with oil and baked in a deep mould, so dough was soft. After frying, they were folded till they were broken into pieces the size of one kezayit each. One Kemitza-full was burned on Altar, remaining Matzot were entirely eaten by the Kohanim.
* Don’t allow any Mincha to become Chametz
* Don’t add yeast or honey to any Mincha.
* Every Mincha must have salt added to it.
* No Mincha can be offered without salt.

5 Shtey-HaLechem: The Double-Loaf Offering
* Also known as ‘Korban Reishit.’
* Made with yeast and thus rose as Chametz and not Matzah.
* No Kemitza
* Not burned on Altar
* Each of the two doughs were prepared individually
* Accompanied the two lambs of the Korban Shelamim on Shavuot
* Each loaf measured 7 X 4 Tefachim. Corners projected vertically to height of 4 finger breadths.
* Every offering must be sprinkled with salt, no offering was permitted without being salted prior to being burned on the altar.

Minchat Bikkurim
* Also known as ‘The Omer.’
* It was the first offering of the new barley grain crop just grown.
* A communal offering, not individual, no new produce was allowed to be eaten till the Omer was cut on second night of Pesach
* The Omer was burned on the Altar
* Same preparation as other Mincha offerings except it was made from barley and not wheat.
* Its kernels of barley were roasted and then ground
* The Kohen waved the Omer N-S-E-W, then up & down.

# 3 Korban Shelamim
* Ox – Sheep – Goat
* Male or Female
* Without blemish
* Selected fats were burned on Altar
* Don’t eat any blood or fat. (acc. to Chinuch, these 2 are in Lev. 7:26)

# 4 Korban Chatat
Four Types of Sin Offerings: Kohen Gadol-Bet Din-Nassi-Yachid
1) Kohen Gadol:
* Semicha done by Kohen Gadol who sinned inadvertently
* Bull, blood sprinkled 7 times toward inner curtain & 7 times on corners of Inside altar, remaining blood spilled on curb of outside altar.
* Selected fats, the skin, innards, burned on outside alter, remainder burned outside Yerushalayim.
2) Bet Din:
* Brought if Sanhedrin of 71 erred in a ruling that carries Karet.
* One bull was brought for each tribe.
* Semicha done by three members of Sanhedrin.
* Bull brought by entire community that sinned based on incorrect legal decision of The Sanhedrin.
* Blood of bull sprinkled 7 times toward inner curtain & 7 times on corners of inner altar, remaining blood spilled on curb of outside altar.
* Selected fats, the skin, innards, burned on outside alter, remainder burned outside Yerushalayim.
3) The President – King
* Brought if the King or Nasi (head of Sanhedrin) violated a Mitzva that carries Karet.
* Male Goat
4) Individual
* She goat or lamb.
* Brought for sins committed unknowingly and punishable by Karet (43 types of violations, mostly forbidden relations).
* Offered in same location as Korban Olah.
* Blood sprinkled on outer Altar 4 times.

# 5 Korban Asham & Me’ila
The Korban Asham is brought for 3 reasons:
1. Lied in court under oath denying knowledge of a monetary case, then admitted he did bear witness to the case.
2. He forgot his status as Tameh or Tameh Met or Tameh from contact
with a zav, zava, nidda or Maga and ate Kodshim or he entered the Temple in any of the above states.
3. He made a Shavuah, oath to do or avoid something and then forgot his oath and violated his oath.
* The type of animal he brought as an Asham depended on his financial status. Thus, it was also termed an ‘adjustable offering.’
* A wealthy person brings a female lamb or goat on outer Altar.
* A poor person brings 2 mature doves or 2 young doves. One dove for an Olah, the other for a Chatat. The Olah is completely burned on the Altar. The Chatat bird was spread out, not allowed to split it. & completely eaten by the Kohanim of that shift. Only its blood is smeared on the Altar.
* A destitute pauper who cannot even afford 2 doves, brings a grain
offering called the Mincha Chata. No oil or levona is added The Kometz was burned on the altar, all the remaining Mincha is eaten by the officiating Kohanim of that shift.
Korban Me’ila (Also known as an Asham)
* Brought for the unintentional misuse of Kodshim, (property, food or utensils belonging to Bedek Habayit).
* Misuse to the amount of a Pruta worth is liable for a Korban Me’ila.
* An additional 20% tax called a is also paid.
* Then he brings a male ram worth at least 2 Sela.
Asham Taluy
* Brought if one is uncertain whether he committed a crime liable for Karet.
If certain that he committed a violation, he must bring a fixed Chatos.
* Male ram worth at least 2 Sela.
Asham Vadai
* Adds 20% tax.
Asham Gezelot
* One who knowingly denies under oath that he has an outstanding debt or property in his possession and later confesses, must pay back the money owed plus a 20% tax as a fine as well as bring a Korban Asham- Gezelot, a ram worth at least 2 Sela.

5 comments on “Vayikra, Shnayim Mikra, Learning Chumash

  1. For an indepth understanding of the rationale behind much of Sefer Vayikra, one should at least see Ramban early in this week’s Parsha, where he strongly rejects Rambam’s view in the Moreh Nevuchim that the same were instituted to wean us from idolatrous practices. Ironically, later in the same Parsha, Ramban uses logic quite akin to the Moreh in justifying salting a Korban. For an explanation of the views of Ramban and Rambam, one should also see the introduction of the Meshech Chachmah, who posits an essential difference in Karbanos which are offered for the purpose of Ratzon HaShem and others which have an express purpose of weaning the Jewish People from idolatrous practices.

  2. The intent of this post is to encourage people to learn Chumash as the halacha dictates.

    I wholeheartedly agree that observant males should also learn Gemora regularly.

    I updated the first paragraph to avoid anybody else from misreading it to say we are advocating not learning Gemora.

  3. Start throwing the bricks. I know it’s unfair for a Jewish woman to comment about a Jewish man’s obligation to learn. However, in my humble opinion, as a wife encouraging her husband to learn, and as a mother encouraging her grown sons to learn, learning means Gemara (Talmud Bavli). This is from Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zatzal, who held dozens of shiurim in various Masechtas across Shas.

  4. Wow… the initial premise here is an INCREDIBLY loaded statement.

    “We can debate about the centrality of learning Gemora for the average observant Jew, but learning Chumash, specifically Shnayim Mikra is essential.”

    The only reason why there is debate regarding Gemara learning is that people can’t do it. In that case they need to either (a) use Artscroll or (b) give up and spend time on other areas.

    I hate to break it to the Ramchal, but learning Gemara also has “tremendous spiritual ramifications.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I try to complete shnayim mikra, however, as per Shulchan Aruch 285,4, one has until Simchas Torah to finish. I’ve heard from someone who asked a big rav that today we are allowed to use whatever kula possible with respect to shnayim mikra because we have less time. (I’m basing my personal practice on a discussion I had with my rav, however.)

    I would be surprised if there were any rav who would say to any male able to learn Gemara to some extent that Chumash learning should replace it and not merely supplement.

    Gemara is hard for everybody. It is hard for people in their first day of learning and people in their tenth year of learning. It is hard if one does not have smicha or if someone is the Gadol HaDor. For some reason, even though it’s hard for FFB’s to learn, they stick with it, while BT’s instantly run to justify their lot.

  5. As you correctly observe:
    We need to make Torah a central component of our lives and learning the parsha regularly is an essential step.

    May I suggest that my blog Thinking Torah might be helpful to some readers of Beyond Teshuva.


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