Weekly Scripture Commentary

Shabbat VaYikra

Parashah VaYikra starts a new book in the Torah. The oldest name known for this third book is “The Law of the Priests.” But since the service in the Mishkan was given to the tribe of Levi, it was named, in the Septuagint Greek translation, “Leviticus.” In the Jewish tradition of naming a book by a word from the first phrase in the text, this book is known as “VaYikra,” “And Called.”

VaYikra deals with two fundamental concepts: 1) - the offerings to Yehovah - symbolized by an animal sacrifice; and 2) - holiness - the purity of life, action, and thought – “You shall be holy for I, Yehovah your God, am Holy” our God calls on us to be the outmost we can be in this world based on His standard of ethics.

The offerings to Yehovah, or sacrifices, are divided into two categories, individual offerings and congregational offerings. The first offerings are typologies to be performed by every human being, individually. The second offerings are prototypes for the nation of Israel to be performed collectively. These sacrifices were given as mere shadows, or types, of the penalty for sin required by a Holy God and spoke of the redemptive work which would be done by an individual being prophesied throughout the Scriptures and known as the Messiah. Throughout history many claimed to be that Messiah, but only one person's claims were validated, not only by fulfilling all of these prophecies, but also by His deeds. Indeed, Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God (as called in Proverbs 30), came to offer Himself as a better sacrifice; a sacrifice that replaced all others sacrifices under the Mosaic covenant.

But why was it necessary for Messiah to give up His life for our atonement? It is impossible for a person not to be tainted by sin; therefore, it is impossible for anyone to come in the presence of a Holy God in that state. The animal sacrifices were never meant to remove sin otherwise the people under the Mosaic covenant would have stopped offering them year after year. A more meaningful sacrifice, a superior sacrifice, was needed to pay for the penalty of sin required by the righteousness of God. Therefore, God in His infinite love for us, sent His own Son to be that superior sacrifice so that everyone would have the opportunity to receive God's forgiveness just by looking at the crucified Messiah and believe, just as the Israelites were looking and believing at the fiery serpent raised in the wilderness by Moshe and were saved. These sacrifices were revelations for mankind to fully comprehend the ugliness of sin. Yeshua came and fulfilled the requirement of God expressed in the Torah through these many animal sacrifices, innocent blood must be shed to cover the sin committed.

A sacrifice, in the Mosaic context, can be of three types: a “burnt-offering” expressing the surrendering of oneself to God’s will; a “peace-offering” expressing one’s gratitude for God’s bounty and mercy; or a “sin-offering” expressing sorrow of sinning against God and the firm resolve to be reconciled with Him.

The Parashah begins with these words: “And Yehovah called to Moshe, and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Yisrael, and say to them, “When a man among you brings an offering to Yehovah, you shall bring it from animals, from the cattle or from the flock shall you bring your offering.” VaYikra 1:1-2

From these opening words the sages left for us insightful teachings.

“An offering” is the Hebrew word Korban. The meaning of the root of this Hebrew word is "coming near," because an offering is the means to bring ourselves closer to God and to elevate ourselves. Also, notice that the offering must be from clean animals, a live kosher creature must lose its life, not anything else like the offering that Cain brought, of the fruit of the ground.

“To Yehovah,” are the Hebrew letters YHVH. Throughout the Torah, only this Four-Letter Name of God — the Name representing His Attribute of Mercy — is used in connection with offerings, never the Name Elohim, which represents His Attribute of Judgment. Ancient idolaters believed that animal-offerings were needed to appease the anger of a judgmental, bloodthirsty god. This is totally foreign to Jewish belief. The Torah teaches that offerings are a means to draw closer to Yehovah — the Merciful God.

The verse begins by speaking of “an offering to Yehovah,” but it concludes with “your offering,” omitting mention of Yehovah. Thus, the verse teaches that: if your offering to God comes from yourself — representing your sincere effort to draw closer to Him — then your offering has the exalted status of an offering to Yehovah. But if you merely go through the motion of performing the physical acts of the service just as a religious act, then, unfortunately, it remains merely "your" offering.

Even though the animal offerings do not apply to us today the principle of bringing an offering to God — our prayers, our worship, our time, our finances — remains as a teaching in our walk with the Lord and in our quest for holiness. If we merely go through the motion of worshiping and praying to God, but do not put in them our most sincere feelings, feelings that come from deep inside our hearts, our worship and prayers merely hit the ceiling and do not rise to the status of an offering to God.

The Brit Chadashah gives us further insight into the subject of sacrifices, for we read in Hebrews 10:1-10: “For the Torah, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the actual things, can never by the same yearly sacrifices, which they offer continually, make perfect those drawing near. Otherwise, would these not have stopped being offered, because the worshipers, having experienced purification even once, would no longer have had consciousness of sin? But by those sacrifices there is a remembrance and a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He (Yeshua Messiah) comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire but a body You prepared for Me; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not desired. Then I said, `Look, here I am, I have come—it is written about Me in the scroll.` I desire to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first system in order to establish the second. And it is by this that we will have been set apart through the Korban (offering) of Yeshua HaMoshiach, once and for all."

Yeshua's sacrifice fulfilled and replaced all other sacrifices under the Mosaic covenant. Not only His sacrifice is all sufficient to forgive sin, but it is the only sacrifice that can remove the guilt of sin once and for all. With the advent of Messiah the Mosaic system of sacrifice was over, Yeshua's shed blood substituted that of bulls and goats. Therefore, God’s requirement for forgiveness of sin remains and His commandments stand. A sacrifice must be made for the forgiveness of sin, except that He provided the sacrifice. The only thing that remains for us to do is to come to Him with a sincere confession of sins and a repentant heart.


Coming up this Shabbat at Ben David

March 3 - Message by Doug Friedman:


“Unmasking Another Secret in the Book of Esther"

There are many unusual things about the Book of Esther, the most widely-mentioned one being the fact that this book is the only book in the entire bible that nowhere mentions God. While He, Himself, is never mentioned, His handiwork has is unmistakable. Yet, there are other revelations about God and the way He works that even an astute reader may miss when reading and even studying it in detail. Come and learn about another one that has been hiding right in front of us!

Simchat Torah

October 14 - Simchat Torahtorah
The Joy of the Torah - Morning Service
Concluding the annual Torah reading and beginning anew.
Join us celebrating God's word.

Rosh HaShanah

Wednesday, September 20 - Erev Rosh HaShanah Messianic Service at 7:00pm.rosh
Rosh HaShanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is called in the Bible, The Feast of Trumpets, or, in Hebrew, Zicharon Teruah, the Day of Memorial of Blowing.
Rosh HaShanan (literally, Head of the Year) occurs on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, this year, on Thursday, September 21.
Please join us for the evening service on Wednesday, September 20, at 7:00pm and celebrate this Biblical Holy Day and its Messianic significance.

Yom Kippur

September 30 - Yom Kippur Messianic Serviceykippur
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, occurs on the tenth of Tishrei, Saturday, September 30 this year.
Join us for this Messianic Service at 10:30am.


October 7 - Sukkot Service at 10:30am:sukkot
join us for a Sukkot celebration.
- Morning Service and Oneg in the Sukkah.

Sisterhood Event Oct-21

October 21 - Sisterhood Eventtorah
Has the Lord been good to you? Have you experienced His grace and blessings in your life? Psalm 105:1-3 Instructs us to:
“Give thanks to the Lord! Proclaim His Name; Make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works. Glory in His Holy Name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who see the Lord.”
If you answered “yes” to the questions above, then we hope that you will join us as we gather to say Toda Adonai in worship and fellowship. Let us proclaim His great Name and declare His wondrous works in our lives.
Join us after the morning service at 12:30pm for a giving thanks luncheon. Lunch donation: $5.

Hanukkah Celebration

December 16 - Hanukkah Celebration at 4:00pm
Come, celebrate Hanukkah with us.
- Menorah Lighhting
- Dancing
- Children’s Activities
- Dreidel Playing
- Traditional Foods
- Latkes & Sufganiyot

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no morning service.

Coming up at Ben David - Purim

March 3 - Purim Celebration:

Join us for a fun filled Purim Celebration: costumes, parade, children's program, joyful music, insightful sermon, and an Oneg with delicious hamantaschen. Purim is the last event of the biblical calendar and symbolizes the ultimate victory over evil.

Hamantaschen Baking Contest:

Bring two dozen of your homemade hamantaschen before the service to enter the contest. Prizes will be awarded at the Oneg.

Coming up at Ben David - Passover

March 31 - Community Passover Seder:

Join us for our annual Community Seder at Embassy Suites Hotel.

This would be a wonderful time to invite family and friends as Doug will leads us through the traditional elements of the Passover explaining how Yeshua the Messiah fulfilled the Scriptures as the promised Lamb of God. We will be sharing the reading of the Haggadah and learn about the Jewish roots of Yeshua's Last Seder, enjoy beautiful holiday music, Davidic dancing, and partake of a sumptuous Seder dinner.

To make your reservation, please click on "Passover" menu tab above and follow the directions. Or, pick a flier from our congregation.

For more information please call (714) 974-3107 or e-mail at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Coming up at Ben David

December 30 - Message by Shmuel Oppenheim:


“Hineni: Here I Am!”

Rabbi Oppenheim will address the subject of what God asked of Abraham, what God was willing to do, and what He did.

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