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Vayikra

English Translation

Vayikra

[God] Called Out
Leviticus
1:1−5:26

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)

English translation of the Torah portion Vayikra in the Book of Leviticus1:1] The Eternal One called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: 2] Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them:

When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the Eternal: You shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock.

3] If your offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you shall make your offering a male without blemish. You shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, for acceptance in your behalf before the Eternal. 4] You shall lay a hand upon the head of the burnt offering, that it may be acceptable in your behalf, in expiation for you. 5] The bull shall be slaughtered before the Eternal; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar which is at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 6] The burnt offering shall be flayed and cut up into sections. 7] The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and lay out wood upon the fire; 8] and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall lay out the sections, with the head and the suet, on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar. 9] Its entrails and legs shall be washed with water, and the priest shall turn the whole into smoke on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Eternal.

10] If your offering for a burnt offering is from the flock, of sheep or of goats, you shall make your offering a male without blemish. 11] It shall be slaughtered before the Eternal on the north side of the altar, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. 12] When it has been cut up into sections, the priest shall lay them out, with the head and the suet, on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar. 13] The entrails and the legs shall be washed with water; the priest shall offer up and turn the whole into smoke on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering by fire, of pleasing odor to the Eternal.

14] If your offering to the Eternal is a burnt offering of birds, you shall choose your offering from turtledoves or pigeons. 15] The priest shall bring it to the altar, pinch off its head, and turn it into smoke on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out against the side of the altar. 16] He shall remove its crop with its contents, and cast it into the place of the ashes, at the east side of the altar. 17] The priest shall tear it open by its wings, without severing it, and turn it into smoke on the altar, upon the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, an offering by fire, of pleasing odor to the Eternal.

2:1] When a person presents an offering of meal to the Eternal: The offering shall be of choice flour; the offerer shall pour oil upon it, lay frankincense on it, 2] and present it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. The priest shall scoop out of it a handful of its choice flour and oil, as well as all of its frankincense; and this token portion he shall turn into smoke on the altar, as an offering by fire, of pleasing odor to the Eternal. 3] And the remainder of the meal offering shall be for Aaron and his sons, a most holy portion from the Eternal’s offerings by fire.

4] When you present an offering of meal baked in the oven, [it shall be of] choice flour: unleavened cakes with oil mixed in, or unleavened wafers spread with oil.

5] If your offering is a meal offering on a griddle, it shall be of choice flour with oil mixed in, unleavened. 6] Break it into bits and pour oil on it; it is a meal offering.

7] If your offering is a meal offering in a pan, it shall be made of choice flour in oil.

8] When you present to the Eternal a meal offering that is made in any of these ways, it shall be brought to the priest who shall take it up to the altar. 9] The priest shall remove the token portion from the meal offering and turn it into smoke on the altar as an offering by fire, of pleasing odor to the Eternal. 10] And the remainder of the meal offering shall be for Aaron and his sons, a most holy portion from the Eternal’s offerings by fire.

11] No meal offering that you offer to the Eternal shall be made with leaven, for no leaven or honey may be turned into smoke as an offering by fire to the Eternal. 12] You may bring them to the Eternal as an offering of choice products; but they shall not be offered up on the altar for a pleasing odor. 13] You shall season your every offering of meal with salt; you shall not omit from your meal offering the salt of your covenant with God; with all your offerings you must offer salt.

14] If you bring a meal offering of first fruits to the Eternal, you shall bring new ears parched with fire, grits of the fresh grain, as your meal offering of first fruits. 15] You shall add oil to it and lay frankincense on it; it is a meal offering. 16] And the priest shall turn a token portion of it into smoke: some of the grits and oil, with all of the frankincense, as an offering by fire to the Eternal.

3:1] If your offering is a sacrifice of well-being—

If you offer of the herd, whether a male or a female, you shall bring before the Eternal one without blemish. 2] You shall lay a hand upon the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall dash the blood against all sides of the altar. 3] Then present from the sacrifice of well-being, as an offering by fire to the Eternal, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is about the entrails; 4] the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, that is at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which you shall remove with the kidneys. 5] Aaron’s sons shall turn these into smoke on the altar, with the burnt offering which is upon the wood that is on the fire, as an offering by fire, of pleasing odor to the Eternal.

6] And if your offering for a sacrifice of well-being to the Eternal is from the flock, whether a male or a female, you shall offer one without blemish. 7] If you present a sheep as your offering, you shall bring it before the Eternal 8] and lay a hand upon the head of your offering. It shall be slaughtered before the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. 9] Then present, as an offering by fire to the Eternal, the fat from the sacrifice of well-being: the whole broad tail, which you shall remove close to the backbone; the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is about the entrails; 10] the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, that is at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which you shall remove with the kidneys. 11] The priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire to the Eternal.

12] And if your offering is a goat, you shall bring it before the Eternal 13] and lay a hand upon its head. It shall be slaughtered before the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall dash its blood against all sides of the altar. 14] Then present as your offering from it, as an offering by fire to the Eternal, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is about the entrails; 15] the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, that is at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which you shall remove with the kidneys. 16] The priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire, of pleasing odor.

All fat is the Eternal’s. 17] It is a law for all time throughout the ages, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.

4:1] The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: 2] Speak to the Israelite people thus:

When a person unwittingly incurs guilt in regard to any of the Eternal’s commandments about things not to be done, and does one of them—

3] If it is the anointed priest who has incurred guilt, so that blame falls upon the people, he shall offer for the sin of which he is guilty a bull of the herd without blemish as a purgation offering to the Eternal. 4] He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, before the Eternal, and lay a hand upon the head of the bull. The bull shall be slaughtered before the Eternal, 5] and the anointed priest shall take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the Tent of Meeting. 6] The priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Eternal, in front of the curtain of the Shrine. 7] The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of aromatic incense, which is in the Tent of Meeting, before the Eternal; and all the rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 8] He shall remove all the fat from the bull of purgation offering: the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is about the entrails; 9] the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, that is at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys— 10] just as it is removed from the ox of the sacrifice of well-being. The priest shall turn them into smoke on the altar of burnt offering. 11] But the hide of the bull, and all its flesh, as well as its head and legs, its entrails and its dung— 12] all the rest of the bull—he shall carry to a pure place outside the camp, to the ash heap, and burn it up in a wood fire; it shall be burned on the ash heap.

13] If it is the community leadership of Israel that has erred and the matter escapes the notice of the congregation, so that they do any of the things which by the Eternal’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize guilt— 14] when the sin through which they incurred guilt becomes known, the congregation shall offer a bull of the herd as a purgation offering, and bring it before the Tent of Meeting. 15] The elders of the community shall lay their hands upon the head of the bull before the Eternal, and the bull shall be slaughtered before the Eternal. 16] The anointed priest shall bring some of the blood of the bull into the Tent of Meeting, 17] and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle of it seven times before the Eternal, in front of the curtain. 18] Some of the blood he shall put on the horns of the altar which is before the Eternal in the Tent of Meeting, and all the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 19] He shall remove all its fat from it and turn it into smoke on the altar. 20] He shall do with this bull just as is done with the [priest’s] bull of purgation offering; he shall do the same with it. The priest shall thus make expiation for them, and they shall be forgiven. 21] He shall carry the bull outside the camp and burn it as he burned the first bull; it is the purgation offering of the congregation.

22] In case it is a chieftain who incurs guilt by doing unwittingly any of the things which by the commandment of the Eternal his God ought not to be done, and he realizes guilt— 23] or the sin of which he is guilty is made known—he shall bring as his offering a male goat without blemish. 24] He shall lay a hand upon the goat’s head, and it shall be slaughtered at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the Eternal; it is a purgation offering. 25] The priest shall take with his finger some of the blood of the purgation offering and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26] All its fat he shall turn into smoke on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of well-being. The priest shall thus make expiation on his behalf for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

27] If any person from among the populace unwittingly incurs guilt by doing any of the things which by the Eternal’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes guilt— 28] or the sin of which one is guilty is made known—that person shall bring a female goat without blemish as an offering for the sin of which that one is guilty. 29] The offerer shall lay a hand upon the head of the purgation offering. The purgation offering shall be slaughtered at the place of the burnt offering. 30] The priest shall take with his finger some of its blood and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 31] The offerer shall remove all its fat, just as the fat is removed from the sacrifice of well-being; and the priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, for a pleasing odor to the Eternal. The priest shall thus make expiation for that person, who shall be forgiven.

32] If the offering one brings as a purgation offering is a sheep, that person shall bring a female without blemish. 33] The offerer shall lay a hand upon the head of the purgation offering, and it shall be slaughtered as a purgation offering at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34] The priest shall take with his finger some of the blood of the purgation offering and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. 35] And all its fat the offerer shall remove, just as the fat of the sheep of the sacrifice of well-being is removed; and this the priest shall turn into smoke on the altar, over the Eternal’s offering by fire. For the sin of which one is guilty, the priest shall thus make expiation on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven.

5:1] If a person incurs guilt—

When one has heard a public imprecation but (although able to testify as having either seen or learned of the matter) has not given information and thus is subject to punishment;

2] Or when a person touches any impure thing (be it the carcass of an impure beast or the carcass of impure cattle or the carcass of an impure creeping thing) and the fact has escaped notice, and then, being impure, that person realizes guilt;

3] Or when one touches human impurity (any such impurity whereby someone becomes impure) and, though having known about it, the fact has escaped notice, but later that person realizes guilt;

4] Or when a person utters an oath to bad or good purpose (whatever a human being may utter in an oath) and, though having known about it, the fact has escaped notice, but later that person realizes guilt in any of these matters—

5] upon realizing guilt in any of these matters, one shall confess having sinned in that way. 6] And one shall bring as a penalty to the Eternal, for the sin of which one is guilty, a female from the flock, sheep or goat, as a purgation offering; and the priest shall make expiation for the sin, on that person’s behalf.

7] But if one’s means do not suffice for a sheep, that person shall bring to the Eternal, as the penalty for that of which one is guilty, two turtledoves or two pigeons—one for a purgation offering and the other for a burnt offering. 8] The offerer shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first the bird for the purgation offering, pinching its head at the nape without severing it. 9] He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the purgation offering on the side of the altar, and what remains of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a purgation offering. 10] And the second bird he shall prepare as a burnt offering, according to regulation. For the sin of which one is guilty, the priest shall thus make expiation on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven.

11] And if one’s means do not suffice for two turtledoves or two pigeons, that person shall bring as an offering for that of which one is guilty a tenth of an eifah of choice flour for a purgation offering; one shall not add oil to it or lay frankincense on it, for it is a purgation offering. 12] The offerer shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall scoop out of it a handful as a token portion and turn it into smoke on the altar, with the Eternal’s offerings by fire; it is a purgation offering. 13] For whichever of these sins one is guilty, the priest shall thus make expiation on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven. It shall belong to the priest, like the meal offering.

14] And the Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying:

15] When a person commits a trespass, being unwittingly remiss about any of the Eternal’s sacred things: One shall bring as a penalty to the Eternal a ram without blemish from the flock, convertible into payment in silver by the sanctuary weight, as a reparation offering. 16] That person shall make restitution for the remission regarding the sacred things, adding a fifth part to it and giving it to the priest. The priest shall make expiation with the ram of the reparation offering on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven.

17] And a person who, without knowing it, sins in regard to any of the Eternal’s commandments about things not to be done, and then realizes guilt: Such a person shall be subject to punishment. 18] That person shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, or the equivalent, as a reparation offering. For the error committed unwittingly, the priest shall make expiation on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven. 19] It is a reparation offering; guilt has been incurred before the Eternal.

20] The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: 21] When a person sins and commits a trespass against the Eternal—by dealing deceitfully with another in the matter of a deposit or a pledge, or through robbery, or by defrauding another, 22] or by finding something lost and lying about it; if one swears falsely regarding any one of the various things that someone may do and sin thereby— 23] when one has thus sinned and, realizing guilt, would restore either that which was gotten through robbery or fraud, or the entrusted deposit, or the lost thing that was found, 24] or anything else about which one swore falsely, that person shall repay the principal amount and add a fifth part to it. One shall pay it to its owner upon realizing guilt. 25] Then that person shall bring to the priest, as a penalty to the Eternal, a ram without blemish from the flock, or the equivalent, as a reparation offering. 26] The priest shall make expiation before the Eternal on behalf of that person, who shall be forgiven for whatever was done to draw blame thereby.

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.