Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

Vayikra – Setting the Scene

As we begin Vayikra, The Book of Leviticus, we say goodbye to the Biblical stories that we may be more familiar with. The foundational narratives of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and Joseph and his siblings have passed. In Vayikra, the Israelites are well on their way to the Promised Land.

Developing a Modern Prayer Practice Around Korbanot

I've always loved animals. Even when I was a child, every single animal struck me as intelligent. They all had distinct personalities. I started feeling from an early age that it was my duty to take care of all the animals, and indeed, I did just that! As a child, I had two guinea pigs, one rabbit, one dog, three cats, and many fish.

When Sacrifice Tastes Like Chicken

The second chapter of Parashat Vayikra, begins "V'nefesh ki takriv korban mincha …" When a person [or soul] presents an offering of meal to the Eternal, the offering shall be of choice flour; oil shall be poured on it, frankincense laid on it." (Lev. 2:1) While the Hebrew word nefesh is understood in this context to mean a person, it also can mean "soul."

The Power of Sacrifice, Then and Now

The Book of Leviticus assumes that offerings of animals and grain, sometimes accompanied by libations of wine or oil, are appropriate expressions of gratitude toward God and mechanisms through which one atones for sin.

Adding to the Fire of Prayer That Never Goes Out

Growing up, I spent my summers at URJ OSRUI, the Reform Jewish summer camp in Oconomowoc, WI. Of all the incredible things that I learned — Hebrew, playing the guitar, Jewish history, prayer, and more — the specific piece that I needed to understand this week’s Torah portion came from watching my counselors light campfires for roasting smores.