Aliya-by-Aliya Parshat Vayikra 5759
Numbers in [brackets] are the mitzva-count according to the Sefer HaChinuch. Other counts vary.
Kohen First Aliya - 13 p’sukim (1:1-13)
G-d calls to Moshe from OHEL MOED and sets down the general rules of korbanot (sacrifices).
[SDT] Note that it does not say "And G-d called to Moshe", but rather "And He called..." Vayikra is not a fresh beginning; it is the continuation of P'kudei. At the end of P'kudei, Moshe was temporarily out of touch (so to speak) with G-d. Here G-d reestablishes contact with Moshe by calling to him and then speaking tohim.
Some commentaries point out from the unique wording in this first verse of Vayikra, that the method by which G-d communicated with Moshe was different from the prophets and all others.
First among the korbanot that the Torah presents is the OLAH, the offering that is completely consumed on the Mizbei'ach, of a BULL. A common procedure in the bringing of many korbanot is leaning upon the animal before it is slaughtered. Many details of korbanot have psychological effects upon the one who brings the korban.
After slaughter, the blood of Sh'chita is collected in a sacred vessel and is then brought to the Mizbei'ach to be poured on it. This sequence is essential for (all) korbanot. The OLAH is skinned and cut into pieces which are placed on the fire of the Altar and there completely consumed.
Male sheep and goats can also be brought as OLAH. The procedures are similar, but not identical.
[SDT] Sacrifices from the cow family are considered to be atonements for the Sin of the Golden Calf. That with which the People sinned can now be used for sacred purposes as a redemption, atonement and Tikun - repair. We often find that the bull is the first presented, discussed, offered, etc. This lends credence to itsroll as atonement for the Golden Calf. It is the father trying to clean up his son's mess.
[SDT] The Talmud considers the OLAH to be an atonement for improper thoughts. The CHATAT, sin offering, is for (some) improper deeds. The Olah is presented first because it is most often that improper thoughts precede (lead to) improper deeds.
Levi Second Aliya - 10 p’sukim (1:14-2:6))
An OLAH can also be from birds, specifically, two types of doves. The unique procedures for bird offerings are described. These three categories of OLAH - large animal, small animals, birds - are counted as one positive command .
[SDT] Note that the bird offering is called OLAH LA'SHEM, a Burnt Offering to G-d. Although no one eats from an animal OLAH, the skin is a given to a kohen as one of his gifts/dues. The dove is completely consumed on the Mizbei'ach. It is the only korban that is COMPLETELY to HaShem.
The Torah next describes the MINCHA (not to be confused with our afternoon davening), a meal offering. It consists of flour and oil with a bit of frankincense (L'vona). Three types of MENACHOT are described in this portion. They differ in the method of preparation - baking, pan frying, etc. - but all contain the same ingredients.
[SDT] Rashi, Baal HaTurim, and others point out the the person bringing the offering is called NEFESH with the flour-oil korban, but not with the previously described korbanot. They explain that it is usually a poor person who brings flour-oil. His offering is considered by G-d to be so precious (even though it is the leastexpensive of the korbanot described) that it is as if the poor person sacrificed his own being. The other offerings do not "take as much out of" the person bringing them.
Details: The mixing of the ingredients of a Mincha may be done by a non-Kohen. The"scooping" and procedures beyond may only be done by a Kohen.
A fourth type of MINCHA is described. All meal offerings constitute one positive mitzva . With meal offerings, only a small portion is put on the Mizbei'ach, the bulk of the offering is shared by the kohanim on duty in the Mikdash. MENACHOT may not be Chametz (the ones described at this point; there are other typesthat are Chametz), nor may they be prepared with leavening or honey .
Mitzva Watch The Sefer HaChinuch hesitates to offer reasons for the prohibition of honey on a korban. He considers this mitzva to be highly enigmatic. He then does suggest that both leavening and honey represent loftiness and arrogance, an inappropriate accompaniment for an experience that must humble the person who brings the korban.A similar idea can be found in the Baal HaTurim, who says that the Yeitzer HaRa is symbolized by Chametz and that the Yeitzer HaRa "tastes like honey" to the individual tempted by his Yeitzer HaRa.
On the other hand, another commentary suggests that this is one of the mitzvot which say to us: Don't think you can figure everything out. There are some mitzvot which defy our limited, finite knowledge. This is one of those mitzvot. We might think that honey should be put on a korban in order to enhance it. We'd be wrongwith that logic. We must realize that we are to do mitzvot - all mitzvot - just because the Torah says so. This is so for all mitzvot, not just the ones that defy our logic.
No korban may be offered without salt ; every korban must be salted .
Mitzva Watch The Sefer HaChinuch explains that many of the procedures of the Mikdash are things that people can relate to in a positive way from their everyday life. People salt their food. This is done to enhance flavor and sometimes as a preservative. And even if neither of these functions of salt directly relate to a korban - e.g.no one is going to eat the particular korban, or it isn't going to be around long enough to need preservation - the act of salting it invests it with a status that we can identify with. The Chinuch adds that just as salt helps maintain and prolong the life of food, and prevents spoiling, so too does a korban maintain andprolong a preson's life and helps prevent spoilage.
[SDT] Our table is like the Mizbei'ach. A famous saying with many different manifestations. We salt our HaMotzi bread because we are expected to add an element of spirituality to an otherwise very mundane act of eating. Salt is a preservative; salt does not spoil. As such, it represents an element of the eternal in this temporal world.
A fifth type of MINCHA is next described.
R'vi'i Fourth Aliya - 17 p’sukim (3:1-17)
The next type of korban presented in the Torah is the SH'LAMIM, known in English as a Peace Offering or Complete offering. Both names are based on a play-on-words on the word SHALOM or SHALEM. The element of completeness that is special to the Sh'lamim in that part of the korban is burned on the Mizbei'ach, part is givento the kohen as one of his gifts, and part is returned to the korban's owner. "Everyone" benefits from a Sh'lamim. In that respect, it is the complete korban. Sh'lamim can be brought from male and female animals, of cow, goat, or sheep. The Torah outlines the procedures for SH'LAMIM, which are basically similar, but withsome differences from animal to animal.
Clarification (sort of) Sometimes goats and sheep are lumped together as TZON, animals of the flock. They are referred to as B'HEIMA DAKA, the smaller livestock, as opposed to CATTLE. In the case of Korbanot there are differences between the two and therefore, they have to be treated separately - like here.
Chamishi Fifth Aliya -26 p’sukim (4:1-26)
The next category of korban presented by the Torah is the CHATAT, the Sin Offering. There are different sub-categories. A Kohen Gadol who inadvertently caused the People to sin (certain sins) is required to bring a bull as an atoning sacrifice.
Similarly (but with differences), if the Sanhedrin errs in a decision which causes wide-spread sinning (again, of certain sins), then the leaders of the people are to bring a bull as a sacrifice .
There are some situations when the Sanhedrin would have to bring the Korban, and not individuals who acted on their say-so. Sometimes, however, the court would not bring and the people would. Depends on several factors.
A leader of the people brings a male goat as his CHATAT. In all cases, the CHATAT is brought for SHOGEG (inadvertent) violations with some level of negligence on the sinner's part that resulted in the sin. A CHATAT is NOT brought for intentional violations. Nor is a CHATAT brought for all sins - only for those whose intentionalviolation is a capital offense.
[SDT] When a leader of the people shall sin... ASHER NASI YECHETA. The initials of this phase spell the word ANI (me!) What is likely to lead a leader astray? His focusing on himself and his losing sight of his responsibilities to the community he leads.
Shishi Sixth Aliya - 19 p’sukim (4:27-5:10)
The final sub-category of CHATAT is for the individual who inadvertently violates certain types of prohibitions . For example, a Jew who violates a Torah prohibition of Shabbat because he is unaware that the particular act is forbidden, or because he forgot that it was Shabbat - this requires the bringing of a KorbanCHATAT. The CHATAT of an individual is a female sheep or goat.
For example... A person is basically Shomer Shabbat, but never knew that you cannot water grass on Shabbat. Nice hot summer Shabbat afternoon, the person "has mercy" on his yellowing lawn and turns on his sprinklers. When he learns of his mistake, he is required to bring a Korban Chatat.
If a person sees brown leaves on a house plant and pinches them off to enhance the growth of the plant, he has violated a Rabbinic prohibition. This Rabbinic prohibition is based on the fact that the act is essentially the same as, and for the same purpose as, prune leaves on a bush growing in the ground. Pruning is a Torahprohibition. The ban on doing the same with house plants is one of many protective measures of the Sages to protect the Torah from violation. When the person learns of his error, no Korban is required because the act was not a Torah violation, and also wouldn't carry a death penalty for intentional violation. T'shuva iscalled for, but no Korban.
Another category of sacrifice is the KORBAN OLEH V'YORED , a sliding-scale guilt offering. An example of a sin requiring this atonement is suppression of testimony or lying under oath about it. Testifying is an obligation . The form that the korban takes depends upon the financial means of the sinner - goat/sheepor doves. With birds, the kohen must be careful not to sever the head when he performs M'LIKA, the bird-korban equivalent of Sh'chita .
[SDT] The main animal for a communal CHATAT (as in the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh and Chagim) or an individual CHATAT, is the goat. This brings to mind the use of the goat by Yosef's brothers to deceive their father by dipping Yosef's coat into goat's blood. The CHATAT for all times contains a reminder of the terrible behaviorof brother to brother.
Sh'vi'i Seventh Aliya - 16 p’sukim (5:11-26)
For those who cannot afford doves, the ASHAM (guilt offering) is to be brought from flour. In this case (as opposed to MENACHOT), no oil  or spice  are used. The ASHAM for sacrilege is a ram. In addition, the violator, who has used that which is sacred for his own benefit, must make restitution and add one-fifthof the value as a penalty . (Actually, one fourth is added, that amount that becomes one fifth of the total amount - 100 worth of use + 25 penalty = 125 total payment, the addition of 25 being one fifth of the 125.)
A variation of the ASHAM is brought when one is not sure if he actually violated the particular prohibition. The conditional Asham is a ram .
The thief is commanded to return that which he stole . The bringing of the ASHAM for all the specific types of violations is a positive mitzva . Thus the Torah ends its introduction to the different types of korbanot.
Last 3 p'sukim for the Maftir.
For the STATISTICALLY-curious... Vayikra is between the 4 Parshiyot and Shabbat HaGadol 45% of the time. It is "involved" in the 4 Parshiyot the remaining 55% of the time, as Zachor, a hafsaka, or HaChodesh.
Haftara 31 p'sukim - Yishayahu 43:21-44:23
Rather than the theme of the Haftara complementing that of the Sedra, for Vayikra we find sharp contrast. The Torah gives us the commands of Korbanot. The Haftara speaks about exile, when Korbanot are suspended, but also contains G-d's "complaint" that the people did not turn to Him in prayer, in lieu of the Korbanot thatthey were no longer bring.
One gets the feeling that the Haftara can be telling us that Korbanot are not enough. First of all, they have to be to G-d, and not to idolatry. Second, they must be offered with proper sincerity in one's heart. Third, they are not ends as much as they are means of service of G-d, and that aspect of Korbanot does not getsuspended when we lose the Beit HaMikdash. Rabbi Jacobs points out in the Haftara Companion, that for the opening sedra of the Book of Kohanim, we have the prophet's reminder that the entire nation, not just the Kohanim, were created by G-d to serve Him.