Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayikra

The Role of a Kohain

The third book of the Chumash, Vayikra, is called "Torat Kohanim" - the law of the priests - in rabbinic literature. This is undoubtedly because most of the book is occupied with the laws of the specific sacrifices and the duties of the kohanim in the Temple. However, there is another, broader and more universal aspect to the name of the book of Vayikra/Torat Kohanim. For implicit in the title is the realization that Kohanim are to behave and live up to a certain standard set for them by the Torah. It is not only the offering that is brought to the Temple that is important and vital. It is also the Kohain who is charged with treating that offering properly and respectfully that is important and vital for successful Temple worship. It is therefore no coincidence that this book of Vayikra/Torat Kohanim contains within it entire sections that deal with moral laws and disciplined human behavior. A dishonest Kohain is not allowed to a representative of God's Temple, just as a physically deformed Kohain was also excluded from performing Temple service.

The Talmud explicitly teaches us that only if a Kohain somehow resembles an angel of God in his behavior and deportment, would people come to study Torah from his mouth and sense the true holiness of the Temple. The task that was placed on the Kohanim was not one of mere rote service in the Temple. It was rather the challenge to be exemplary in behavior, a role model for others, and a teacher of Torah to Israel by deed as well as by word, which would define the true Kohain. The Rabbis in Pirkei Avot described the father of all Kohanim, the great Aharon, as a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, a lover of his fellow human beings and someone who was able to bring people closer to Torah values, study and observance.

I feel that this description was not merely meant to be an obituary of Aharon. Rather, it is meant as a blueprint as to what a true Kohain should be - what he should represent and what image he should reflect to those who come to him for counsel, aid, instruction and Temple service. We may not have a Temple in our midst as of yet today, but we are sorely in need of Kohanim - religious leaders cut from the cloth of Aharon and his value system and life style. The book of Vayikra is the guide for all those who aspire to religious leadership and influence in the Jewish world. It is truly the book of Torat Kohanim.

Shabat Shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein

Text Copyright © 2004 Rabbi Berel Wein and



View Complete List

The Antidote for "And Yaakov Remained Alone"
- 5774

Interpreting Dreams
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Profit from Loss, Light from Darkness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Pray for Me
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Born to Lose
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Ask Me No Questions
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

> The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

The Key To Something More
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Prayer Pointers
Mrs. Lori Palatnik - 5757


Creating Holiness
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Tightening the Hellenistic Screws: A History of Chanukah, Part I
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5774

Horns and Hedonism
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5775

Angels and Agents
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

Jewish Observer
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Enlightening the Present From the Past
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information