Vayikra means “and he (God) called.” It is easy for us to hear the call of the Divine when reading about the journeys of the patriarchs and matriarchs or the ordeals of the slaves and their exodus from Egypt. But to hear God’s call in the description of sacrifices is not an easy task! And yet Vayikra is about more than just sacrifices and laws. At the core of Vayikra is the sacrificial system that is meant to connect the people with the Divine.
Most communal sacrifices were olot – burnt offerings. The community would give the priests beasts and birds that belonged to them and watch them as they were sacrificed to God on the altar, watching the smoke rise up to God with a reyakh nee’khoah – pleasant odor.
The minchah, or grain offering then followed the olot. Here, grain was mixed with oil and spices and presented either in a cooked or uncooked form to the priest. It was then burnt on the altar. However, the text makes clear that no leaven and no honey may be used in the minchah offering. We do not know if this is in any way connected with the later rabbinic association of leaven with pride, hubris, and ego, but this is certainly a connection that I possible interpretation.