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Parashat Vayirka: BBQ Time

Watermelon nail art BBQ

You know that summer has arrived when the air is filled with the smell of local barbecues. In Parashat Vayikrah, we learn that God enjoyed the smell of barbecues. Biblical barbecues, or sacrifices, needed to have a “fire of pleasing odor” to God (Vayikra 1: 9). Why did God decide to give Bnai Yisrael the laws of the sacrifices at this point in the Torah? The Midrash in Tanchuma Terumah 8 explains: “God wanted the gold of the tabernacle to atone for the gold that was donated for the golden calf.” While Bnai Yisrael were eager to create a golden calf to worship God, this activity had not been done with directives from God. The sacrifices, however, served as a way to channel communal worship to God on God’s terms. Why do you think animal sacrifice was important for the generation of Bnai Yisrael in the desert? How do you think the system of sacrifices helped to strengthen the Israelite community?

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