This weeks parsha (3/20/21) is VaYikra (Lev. 1:1-5:26) and deals with the rituals concerning various types of offerings. The first of these types of offerings is the “Burnt Offering” (Lev. 1:1-17):
 And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
 And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
 And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
 And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:
 And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
 And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.
 And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.
 And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
 But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
 And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:
 And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes:
 And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
(Lev. 1:1-17 KJV)
Philo of Alexandria finds a special symbolical significance in the details of this ritual, writing:
But not only does he [Moses] repudiate the whole belly, but he also at the same time washes off all the dirt from his feet, that is to say, to the supports in which pleasure proceeds. And the supports of pleasure are the efficient causes of it. (143) For he who is advancing onwards to perfection is said “to wash his bowels and his Feet,” (Lev. 1:9.) and not his whole belly. For he is not capable of rejecting the whole of pleasure, but he is content if he can purify his bowels, that is to say, his inmost parts from it, which the lovers of pleasure say are certain additions to preceding pleasures, and which originate in the superfluous ingenuity of cooks and makers of delicacies and laborious gourmands.
XLIX. (144) And he also displays, in a further degree, the moderation of the passions of the man who is advancing towards perfection, by the fact that the perfect man discards all the pleasures of the belly without being prompted by any command to do so, but that he who is only advancing onwards towards perfection only does so in consequence of being commanded. For, in the case of the wise man, we find the following expression used:–“He washes his belly and his feet with Water,” (Lev. 9:14.) without any command, in accordance with his own unbidden inclination. But, in the case of the priests, he spoke thus: “But their bowels and their feet,” not they have washed, but “they do Wash;” (Lev. 1:13.) speaking with very cautious exactness, for the perfect man must be moved in his own inclination towards the energies in accordance with virtue. But he who is only practising virtue must be instigated by reason [logos], which points out to him what he ought to do, and it is an honourable thing to obey the injunctions of reason [logos]. (145) But we ought not to be ignorant that Moses repudiates the whole of the belly, that is to say, the filling and indulging the belly, and almost renounces all the other passions likewise; the lawgiver giving a lively representation of the whole from one part, starting from a universal example, and discussing, potentially at least, the other points as to which he was silent.
(Allegorical Interpretation III, 142b-145a)
Thus we learn that thru reason we may exercise self control, over the pleasures of the belly, and that this is just one more example for us, of how our rational mind can overcome our passions and inclinations to manifest the virtues.
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