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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

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Vayikra 5782

Posted on March 12, 2022

Vayikra 5782
“What and who am I responsible for?”

A theme and a question that has run through the pandemic — and that still applies as we figure out how to shift from pandemic to endemic — is “What and who am I responsible for?”  This is an excellent question to ask also as we begin reading the book of Leviticus with its focus on offerings in the sanctuary.

There is one kind of offering that was entirely burnt up — the olah. But most offerings were not of that category. Most offerings brought to the sanctuary were roasted and eaten. Think of it as a sacred barbeque of sorts. Some of the meat was eaten by the person bringing the sacrifice and their family. Some was given to the kohanim who worked in the sanctuary, along with other food offerings that came in specifically to support the kohanim who could not have their own farms. And much of the meat was shared with other people, hungry people, who came to the sanctuary specifically to eat. Think of it as the social safety net.

The sacrificial system, which seems so alien to us, is actually designed to fulfill communal and individual needs that we share. It gave people a way to reach to connect to the Divinity. It helped prevent people from falling through the cracks. It fed the hungry, and it supported the clergy. It provided communal eating opportunities. It helped people come to grips with what and who they are responsible for.

Tomorrow is Shabbat Zachor. On the Shabbat, before Purim, we take two torahs out of the ark and read about Amalek. It is a specific mitzvah to hear Zachor being read.