This week we begin the Book of Vayikra, the third book of the Torah. One of the major topics discussed, was the offering of sacrifices.
Aside from the daily sacrifices offered in the morning and evening, there were individual sacrifices offered for various reasons. The various types of sacrifices were categorized as either קדשי קדשים, holy of holies, and קדשים קלים, lighter holy offerings.
The first group, קדשי קדשים, were either offered completely on the altar, as in the case of the עולה, or burnt offering. The other sacrifices in this category were the sin and guilt offerings. These were partially offered on the altar, with the other part, eaten by the Kohein, in the Temple, and in a state of purity.
The קדשים קלים group, could be eaten by non-Kohanim, provided that they were in a state of purity. They could be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem.
These included free will offerings, known as נדבה, as well as thanksgiving offerings, known as תודה. There was also the holiday sacrifice, known as חגיגה, and the most famous sacrifice of all, the Pesach sacrifice, or קרבן פסח.
The process of preparing these animals for sacrifice, was meant to make an impression on the one offering them. When the fats were burned on the altar, it represented how one must not be “fat” in his outlook on things. He was not to be complacent, and assume that everything was coming to him.
One of the beautiful features of these sacrifices, was also the offering of the קטורת, or incense. If you lived in Jerusalem, you were fortunate to be able to enjoy the sweet fragrance of the incense, that was felt all over the city.
It was a constant reminder of Divine protection, and it allowed the people to feel Hashem close to them. How we long for those days!