God instructs Moses regarding sacrifices, to be offered on the Mishkan’s altar. The burnt-offering (olah), the grain-offering (minhah), the peace-offering (sh’lamim), the sin-offering (hattat), the guilt-offering (asham), and the sin-offering which varies according to one’s means (korban oleh v’yored) are all described.
God decrees that the altar fire burn continually, to be tended by Aaron and his sons. Further details of the offerings are presented, as well as a description of the priests’ vestments. Moses sanctifies the Mishkan and the altar, and anoints the priests. After a consecration offering is made, Aaron and his sons remain secluded for seven days.
Aaron and his sons emerge from the Mishkan on the eighth day of its consecration to make atonement for Israel. Aaron’s two eldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, light “alien fire” on the altar, contrary to God’s precepts, and are struck down. Moses instructs Aaron not to mourn: Aaron continues with his duties. Thereafter God lists the kosher and non-kosher animals. “You shall be holy,” God asserts, “for I am holy.”
Leviticus 12: 1-13:59
God teaches Moses the laws regarding physical purity, including purification after childbirth. The means of identification and purification of leprous skin diseases are set out, as are the laws concerning disposal of infected garments.
God sets forth the last steps for the purification of a leprous person. God even provides laws for when the Israelites reach Canaan and own houses that show evidence of leprous plague. Lastly, God addresses the impurity associated with bodily emissions, including a woman’s monthly cycle.
Parashat Aharei Mot
Leviticus 16: 1-18:30
God instructs Aaron to purify the altar, the priests, and the people. To purify the people two goats are chosen: one as a sacrifice, the other as a scapegoat, to be sent off bearing Israel’s sins. This ceremony of the Day of Atonement is to be “an eternal statute” on the tenth day of the seventh month. Other statutes, concerning animal slaughter and prohibited sexual relations, follow.
“You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.” God urges Israel to attain holiness by emulating God’s holiness. The people of Israel are asked to show respect for parents and for Shabbat, to refrain from idolatry, have concern for the poor and the stranger, and avoid gossip, anger, and improper sexual behavior.
God sets laws for the priesthood. The sacred days are ordained. Shabbat and the Festivals-Pesah, Shavuot, and Sukkot-along with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are prescribed for all generations.
God tells Moses that after Israel reaches Canaan, the land, shall observe a seventh year of rest, a Shabbat, and lie fallow. After seven sabbatical cycles, every fiftieth year, a Jubilee shall be declared. In this hallowed year, Israel will “proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all its inhabitants.” Property will revert to its original owner and slaves will be free.
“Observe My commandments,” says God, and be rewarded; “Reject My statutes,” and suffer consequences. Yet despite this Tokhehah-this litany of dire warnings-God will not utterly reject Israel. God vows to remember the covenant made with Israel’s ancestors.