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Parshat Vayikra - Questions for Self Study

Questions for the Shabbat Table
Questions for Shiur Preparation
Questions on Parshanut

IMPORTANT REMINDER: To clarify the two possible uses of the word 'parsha' or 'parshia', in our shiurim we use the following convention:

    * Parsha - with a capital 'P' - refers to Parshat Ha'Shavuah.
    * parshia - with a small 'p' refers to the basic paragraph type unit of Chumash.
There are manners by which a 'parshia' in Chumash is delineated:
    A "parshia stumah" - by a wide space in the middle of a line;
    A "parshia ptucha" - a wider space until the end of a line.
    [We will often refer to more than one 'parshia' (or a group of them) as 'parshiot'.]
In this week's questions, we will refer to 'parshiot' quite often.

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'

1. In numerous instances in our study of Chumash, we have discussed the thematic significance of the division of Chumash into "parshiot". With this in mind, read Rashi's commentary on 1:1 [the section that begins with "va'ydaber"], where he discusses the purpose for 'parshiot' in Chumash.
Note how this Rashi explains why it is so important to pay attention to 'parshiot' when we study Chumash. [Just like Moshe Rabeinu did!]

2. Chapter 4 describes the korban chatat. Based on the opening psukim of each 'parshia' in this chapter, in what case (or cases) is a person obligated to offer a korban chatat? In other words, what did he do 'wrong'?
Note the meaning (and context) of the Hebrew word "shogeg" as it is used in 4:2, 22, 27, etc. In your opinion, does "shogeg" imply that the act was done: accidentally; inadvertently; or unintentionally?
According to any of these possibilities, why does the 'transgressor' require forgiveness?
How do Chazal interpret "shogeg"? [See Mesechet Kritut 1:1.]

3. Review 5:1-13, noting that this unit also begins with a certain case, or to be more exact, a certain set of cases. How do these 'cases' (as described in 5:1-4) differ from the basic case of a korban "chatat" described in chapter 4?
Would you consider these cases as "shogeg" as well? If not, how would you define them? Is the word "shogeg" used in their description? If not, is any other word used to explain the nature of those transgressions?
In your opinion, should the cases described in 5:1-13 be considered a Korban chatat or a Korban asham /Explain your answer based on these psukim!

4. As you review the first 'parshia' of chapter 5, note that the transgressor (in any of the cases described in 5:1-4) has the option to offer a less expensive Korban (i.e. birds instead of an animal/ see 5:7-13). In your opinion, does this option imply that these transgressions are less severe (than the transgressions described in chapter four), or could this option be a result of the fact that these cases are simply more common?
Note that in the next 'parshia', we find that there is even another option, to bring simply a flour offering, should the person be very poor. Relate this as well to your answer to the above question.

5.In Chumash, was a Korban Olah ever brought before Ma'amad Har Sinai? If so, when, where, by whom, and why? Was a Korban Shlamim ever brought before the events of Ma'amad Har Sinai? If so, when and why? If not, why do you think that Ma'amad Har Sinai was the first time that we find a Korban Shlamim? [Relate to 'who' eats this korban, and the covenental nature of the events that took place at Har Sinai.]

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)

A. Charting Parshiot
In this section we introduce a very basic study tool that is very helpful towards finding structural patterns in Chumash. At first it may sound a bit complicated, but it really very easy (once you catch on). In real (i.e. non-virtual) class, we refer to this as the 'tournament' method, because the chart that you finish with looks somewhat like the results of an elimination tournament match (i.e. when lots of teams who play against one another, and you end up quaterfinals, and semifinals and finally with one winner).
In our case, the 'contestants' are each 'parshia' within any given unit within the Sefer, and the 'winner' is simply the primary topic that emerges as the theme of that unit. This tool helps the student understand the progression of parshiot, and how Chumash develops its most basic themes.
Here's what you need to do, and remember, no shortcuts.
Take a blank piece of notebook paper (line or unlined), and along the left margin, draw a set of short lines (like an inch or two long), single spaced, one on top of another. [In other words, a vertical blank list.] Your list should look something like this:

    _______ etc.
The unit that we will study is Parshat Vayikra, i.e. chapters one through five, which contains approx. twenty individual 'parshiot' (so you list will need about 25 lines).
Now comes the hard (or 'thinking') part.
Briefly review each 'parshia', beginning with chapter one, and attempt to summarize its primary topic in two words or less. The more concise your 'topic name' the better, but make sure that your definition is unique enough to differentiate it from the topic of next 'parshia'. [Remember, only one line for each 'parshia', and as short a summary phrase as possible! I recommend that you use a pencil, since you'll probably find yourself 'changing your mind' quite often. If you have trouble defining a single topic, then just leave a question mark, you can return to it later.]
When you've finished your list for the entire unit (i.e. chapters one thru five), you have finished Step One, and are now ready for Step Two.
In Step Two, we work with the list that we prepared in Step One. Examine your list and attempt to group together any group of lines that share an obvious common topic. [For example, the three types of korban Olah that you find in the three 'parshiot' of chapter one would easily group together under the more general category of Korban Olah.]
As you go down the list, attempt to identify the most basic common topics, grouping these parshiot together with a 'v' type symbol.
Your list should look something like this:
    _______ \
    _______ \_____
    _______ /
    _______ /
    _______ \______
    _______ /
    _______ ______ etc.]
    [Sometimes, certain parshiot may not group, and if a 'parshia' stands alone, just leave it that way, simply moving that line out one more level to line up with the others.]
Now, we've reached our 'second level' list. The next step is simple, we simply repeat step two over and over again, until we are left with only one line (the 'winner'), i.e. the primary topic for this entire unit. By doing so, you have basically created an outline for these five chapters. (Your outline should contain at least about four levels.) Be sure that you can give a title for the entire outline, which would then be the primary topic of Parshat Vayikra.
Because Parshat Vayikra is so organized, this method works very nicely for this unit.

B. From Outline to Textual Patterns
1. Once you complete your outline, scan the entire unit once again, and note each time that a new "dibur" begins [i.e. when ever you find a "vayomer Hashem el Moshe..." or similar].
Make note of those positions on your outline.
Does each "dibur" correspond to certain level of your outline?
Try to explain where it does correspond and where it does not.

2. Next, review the entire Parsha once again, this time making note of where each chapter begins. [Remember that the division of the Bible into chapters in not a Jewish tradition, while the 'parshiot' are.] How does the division into chapters correlate with your outline, and the division into "dibur's"? Can you explain why?

3. Based on your outline, attempt to define the overriding principle that guides the order of the parshiot in Parshat Vayikra.
Is that principle the same or different for each category of korbanot? Can your explain how and why?

4. Finally, scan the parsha one last time, this time making note of two key phrases:

    1) "...ishe rayach nichoach la'Hashem"
    2) "...v'chiper alav ha'Kohen ... v'nislach lo."

    a. Relate your findings to your outline.
    b. Which two general categories of korbanot to these two phrases relate to?
    Can you explain why?

5. For 'extra credit', attempt to relate these two phrases (and categories) to the connection between the Mishkan, Ma'amad Har Sinai and Chet ha'Egel.

    Relate to 24:5-11 and 32:20, 34:9
    Relate also to 23:17 and 34:23

C. Thematic Considerations
6. Based on your outline, should the "korban mincha" be considered a separate category or a sub-category of "olah"?
Relate to both the structure of the parshiot, as well as their content. Relate also to parshiot "ptuchot" and "stumot".

7. As you most probably have noticed by now, the first three chapters of Parshat Vayikra form a distinct unit (as they are all included in one "dibur"), and they describe the various types of Korbanot N'dava [free-will offerings] that an individual may offer. Be sure that you have identified the three basic categories of Olah, Mincha, and Shlamim, and what is unique about each.
Explain why the korban Mincha could be considered a subcategory of the Olah offering.
With this in mind, recall the last time (recorded in Chumash) when Bnei Yisrael offered Olot and Shlamim. [If you need help - try Shmot 24:5 & 32:6.]
In your opinion, is there a thematic connection between those two instances and this first dibur given to Moshe from the ohel moed? [Relate (as usual) to Ramban on Shmot 25:1.]

8. Based on your answers to the above questions, can you suggest a reason why Sefer Vayikra begins specifically with the laws of "korban n'dava".
Relate to 1:1-2. and last week's shiur on Parshat Pekudei.

9. From what "shoresh" (root) does the word "korban" evolve?
Relate this to the purpose of korbanot and man's relationship with God, as well as to your conclusions concerning the outline.

10. Recall from chapter three, we find three categories of Shlamim: "bakar" (cattle), "kvasim" (lambs), and "izim" (goats)
Recall as well from chapter one, the three categories of olot: "bakar" (cattle), "tzon" (sheep), and "oaf" (birds).
In your opinion, why do you think the option to offer 'birds' exists only for the olah offering, but not for the Shlamim? [Relate to who 'eats' each korban (and why). [See Rashi 3:1.]
Note that the Hebrew word "tzon" [sheep] refers to both "kvasim" and "izim" (lambs and goats). With this in mind, attempt to explain why we find two 'parshiot' (and hence categories) for "tzon" in regard to the Shlamim, but only one 'parshia' for the olah option for "tzon". [See Rashi on 3:7!]

11. Read 5:1-13 carefully. How did you define this section on your outline?
Chazal refer to this korban as an "oleh v'yored". Can you explain why? [Do you remember this name from the "viduy" that we say on Yom Kippur?]
In your opinion, would you consider this korban a "chatat" or an "asham". In your answer, relate to both 5:5-6 and 5:9.
Relate to the type of animal offered (for the rich person) in comparison to the standard animal offered for either a Chatat or an Asham.

12. Review 5:14-26, noting the cases when a person brings an Asham. In your opinion, how are these cases different than the cases of the "olah v'yored".
Can you define a general difference between the cases for when one must bring a Chatat and the cases (or at least most of the cases) when one must bring an Asham?
Read 5:1-14 carefully.
Is this korban ("oleh v'yored") a "chatat" or an "asham?"
[How did you define it on your outline?]
Relate to 5:5-6 and 5:9.
Relate to the type of animal offered (for the "ashir") in comparison to the standard animal for a chatat or asham.
What in you opinion is the difference between Chatat and Asham?

Now that you've prepared, go to the shiur.

Part III - Parshanut

1. See Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Vayikra [before 1:1].
How does Ramban explain the connection (and flow) from Sefer Shmot to Sefer Vayikra?
[Relate this to his pirush to Shmot 25:1.]
How does this relate to Ramban's understanding of the Sh'china on Har Sinai and the events at chet ha'egel?
How does Ramban explain the internal flow of topic within Sefer Vayikra?
Does he suggest a general theme for the sefer?
If so, what is it?
How does Ramban explain why there are mitzvot in Sefer Vayikra which are not directly related to the Mishkan?
[Note how Ramban focuses on the need for Am Yisrael to perform mitzvot in order to 'keep' the Sh'china from 'leaving', and how this explains the 'non-Mishkan' related mitzvot in Sefer Vayikra.]

2. In your opinion, does Ramban assume that the mitzvot of Sefer Vayikra follow in the chronological order by which they were first given to Moshe?
Relate this to Ramban's shita of "yeish mukdam u'muchar"?
[If you have time, see Ramban on Vayikra 25:1, i.e the second of half of that lengthy Ramban where he explains his own opinion of why Parshat Behar that was given at Har Sinai was recorded in Sefer Vayikra!]

3. Reread the last five psukim of Sefer Shmot, especially 40:34-35 in relation to Vayikra 1:1, based on their parallel to Shmot 24:15- 17.
[See last week's shiur on Pekudei as well.]

With this parallel in mind, see Rashi, Ramban, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni, and Sforno on 1:1. [That should keep you busy.]
On what points to they all agree, and on what point do they disagree?

[Note according to each where Moshe is standing when Hashem speaks to him. Is it: a) in the kodesh kedoshim itself; b) in the kodesh, outside the parochet; c) in the chatzer, outside the Ohel Moed?]

[In your answer, relate to Shmot 25:21-22 and Bamidbar 7:89!]
Why does Seforno bring down the pasuk from Melachim 8:11?

Why does Rashi claim that this type of "calling" actually took place every time that God spoke to Moshe?
Does Ramban disagree (according to pshat)?
If so, why?
See end of Ramban to 1:1.
Why does he compare this pasuk to Shmot 24:1, and relate this topic once again to Ma'amad har Sinai?
Why does Ramban refer to this as "al derech ha'emet?"

4. Note the case in 5:20-22 when one brings an ASHAM. Is this for a transgression against God or against his fellow man?
With this in mind, what is the meaning of "timol maal b'Hashem" in 5:21? What transgression was done against God?
See Rashi on 5:21. How does his pirush relate to this question? How do the other commentators deal with this question?