Parsha Vayikra - we are calling Hashem
The featured video is The Power of Words - Strength and Courage - Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
We dedicate our learning today for all who need quick refuah, parnassah- successful livelihood and ‘Yiddishe nachas’. May Hashem answer all our prayers l’tovah! May we all come closer to Hashem b’ahavah ub’simcha. Amen.
We humbly ask everyone- please continue to daaven for the unity of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. (and all those suffering from the Corana Virus)
We pray that this month of Nissan - be a month of joy and unity and great miracles for all of Israel and may we be blessed with the ultimate redemption, bimheira b'yameinu. In these insane times, May we all return to the holy sanity of the Torah Amen.
Love and blessings to you all from Yerushalayim Have a wonderful Shabbos and a very joyous Nissan b'ahavah ubivracha
Reb Sholom Brodt z2L
הוא is calling
ויקרא Hashem is calling us and we are calling Him
When we learn Torah, Hashem is calling to us through Moshe Rabbeinu our teacher. But not only is Hashem calling to us, we are also calling Him.
The Alter Rebbe explains this in the Tanya ch. 37: "This illumination which one draws through his Torah study is referred to as “calling” [as in the Talmudic expression] (concerning a Torah student) קורא בתורה (usually translated as “One who reads (studies) the Torah,” but reinterpreted here as ) “One who calls [G d] through the Torah”. Just as calling in its usual sense means that the caller causes the person being called to come to him, to turn to him with his entire being, similarly in the context of “calling through Torah”: This [phrase] means that in Torah study one calls G-d to come to him, so to speak, as a man calls to his friend to come to him, or as a child will call his father to come and join him and not to part from him, leaving him alone, G-d forbid."
מקרא קודש - A Holy Calling
The Torah calls our holy festivals מקראי קודש - 'mikraei kodesh', usually translated as 'holy convocations'. Shabbat, as we say in Kiddush, is תחילה למקראי קודש- the first of the holy festivals.
'mikraei kodesh' also translates as "holy callings" - i.e. pronouncements of "קודש Kodesh-Holy", and also as "callings to holiness".
Reb Shlomo taught in the name of Rebbe Nachman, (לב השמיםפ - פסח 143-144) that the holy festival is standing on the corner announcing in a great voice "קודש Holy!" - the festival is proclaiming "Know that Hashem is One. The Holy One blessed is He conducts the world. There is no weekday. There is no nature. There is someone who can make all sorts of miracles for you."
And being that the festival is calling 'Kodesh - Holy', we have to listen and hear the calling.
Says Rebbe Nachman, You need to bend forward your ear and open your heart to hear the calling. Your entire "simchat Yom Tov" - Yom tov joy is dependent on this. The more you merit to hear clearly- Yom Tov announcing that Hashem that Hashem conducts the world, the more you will feel the joy of Yom Tov
And if G-d forbid, one is not 'b'simcha' on Yom Tov, that is a sign that he didn't hear the מקרא קודש 'mikra Kodesh' - the calling of and to holiness.
So Rebbe Nachman asks: How is one able to get the ears to hear the festival calling "יום טוב Yom tov"? You have to give a lot of tzedakkah to the poor, especially before Pessach. You mammash have to give a lot of tzedakkah to the poor.
Says Reb Shlomo, 'do you understand how deep this is? when you give tzedakkah with all your heart, you are training your ears to hear the hidden cries of another person. This is how your ears become sharper and more sensitive. And then on Yom Tov you will merit to hear the voice of Hashem informing you ה' אחד Hashem is One
But if your ears are not open to hearing the cries of the poor one, then you will remain deaf and you will not hear the calling of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
Everyone asks, what is the meaning of blessing one another "Good Yom Tov"? Is there any possibility that it would not be good? And the answer is, I'm blessing you that you should merit to hear the "tov" - the good in the Yom Tov festival. I am blessing you that you should be good enough, to hear the 'voice' of the מקרא קודש 'mikra Kodesh' - the calling of and to holiness.
When I am blessing you with a "chag sameyach"- a joyous festival, I am blessing you to merit to hear well this voice that is proclaiming קודש KODESH, because to hear this voice- this is the greatest joy!!!
May we all be blessed to remember, to hear and to know that הוא He is calling. May we merit to have good sensitive ears and open hearts to the poor and to His calling. May we be blessed to be careful to look and see with good eyes, healing eyes, joyous eyes. May we we be blessed with the quick arrivalk of Moshiach NOW!
Reb Shlomo's Torah Vayikra - The Secret Behind the Korbanot Everyone knows that one of the key parts of bringing a sacrifice is regret. When I bring a sacrifice I am basically saying to the Ribbono Shel Olam "I did wrong, and I regret what I did." Let me point something out to you. What does it mean that you stand before G-d and you regret something? To regret something means "Ribbono Shel Olam, this is really not the way I am." Imagine I somebody very much and I hurt their feeling. When I say "I'm sorry I hurt you feeling," What do I really mean to say? I am basically saying "I'm not capable of consciously hurting you because I love you so much. Some stupid spirit came over me, and I used words which I don't mean." What I'm saying to this person is that it didn't come from the depths of my heart.
When you come to the Holy Temple and bring a sacrifice, something very important becomes come clear to you, "I really did not was t to sin."
Sometimes we can live as something or as somebody for years and years, thinking this is what we really want and one day we wake up and say, "I'm so stupid, this is not what I want, this is not where I belong."
As a way out tragic example, I heard this story about a Chassidishe yid, a Radomsker chassid. He came to Berlin and thought to himself, "The Radomsker Rebbe is great but what does he know? Germany is a different story, here I make money." The greatest thing happened to him, his daughter was going out with a German army officer, which was so to speak the greatest honor in the world. When Hitler took over he thought, 'The Polish Jews can still hold on to their Rebbe for help Not me, I have a future son-in-law who is a big officer.' One night this Nazi walks in and he starts beating up the girl because they claimed that someone from Jewish blood is trying to seduce an Aryan. This yidel work up and starting asking himself who am I, what am I.
Besides beating, what else did he experience that night?
The Ba'al Shem Tov says that sometimes we look at ourselves and while regretting what we did we become sad. Let me ask you, can you imagine living your life under the illusion thinking that you did something right when really, it was the worst thing in the world? On the one hand I'm sad that I made a mistake, but thank G-d - He let me know of it. I should be jumping for joy when that which I did wrong was revealed to me.
So when Yidele came to the Holy Temple and brought a sacrifice, he might have been walking in with a broken-heart, but at a certain point of understanding the depths of regret, he would end up telling G-d, "Master of the Universe, it is clear to me that this is what I want." Now let's go even deeper. Sometimes we only know what we don't want, but what about what we really do want? The deepest translation of G-d is when it is clear to you what you really want. Not only what your kishkes want, nor what your ear wants. The deepest question is what does you neshama want, what does you inside want? So you see what the Levi'im would do? The holiness of their playing was that they opened all gates of everyone's hearts and everyone's soul to find out what they mamesh want.
Parshiot Vayikra: Teachings From Previous Years
▪ Parshat Vayikra: The Book of Holiness ▪ Three levels in approaching Hashem: Meditation, Action and broken heart filled with Awe. ▪ Moshe Rabbeinu and Adam haRishon ▪ VAYIKRa – Learn and Teach Torah with LOVE ▪ The Sweet Learning Of The 'Aleph-Bet' ▪ The Korban Mincha – The Meal Offering ▪ One who comes to purify himself -- הבא לטהר מסייעין אותו
Parshat Vayikra: The Book of Holiness
1. Welcome to Sefer Va'yikra
Welcome to Sefer Vayikra, also known as Sefer Torat Kohanim- the book of the laws pertaining (mostly) to the priests. In English Vayikra is known as 'the book of Leviticus'- having to do with the Kohanim who were from the tribe of Levi. In Sefer Shmot- Exodus we learned about our enslavement in and liberation from Mitzrayim; about the Covenant and the giving of the Torah; the downfall with the sin of the 'golden calf'; the "build unto Me a Sanctuary" laws and the appointment of the Kohanim and the Levites. Now in Sefer Vayikra we learn about the service of the Sanctuary- how we were to serve Hashem inside the Mishkan and how we are to serve Hashem in our inner sanctum. From the stories and events we can relate to in Sefer Shmot, we move to 'Chukim' laws in Sefer Vayikra, laws that we do not comprehend with our rational minds.
"Shivim panim la'Torah." Like an extraordinarily beautiful gem the Torah has 'seventy faces', seventy levels of depth. With Hashem's blessings, we get to go deeper and deeper each time we learn these holy words and letters of His Wisdom.
The holy Piaseczner Rebbe ztz"l teaches in his sefer Eish Kodesh (Holy Fire) that Hashem is close to the Jewish person; even when he or she are not deserving of such closeness, Hashem desires us to be close to Him. In Mitzrayim, when we were spiritually naked and bare, Hashem gave us the mitzvot of circumcision and Korban Pessach. These mitzvot are considered to be "Chukim". (We have learned about Chukim and Mishpatim [rationally understood laws] on a number of occasions.)
One wonders how can mitzvot which we do not understand bring us closer to Hashem? This seems to be paradoxical. The Piaseczner Rebbe explains that it is only things that are strange to us that we have 'a need' to understand with reason. But when we come closer to Hashem then even the Chukim are understood. We understand that the Chukim laws are as they should be- you don't need human intellect or particular reasons to understand them and to do them. Those things which pertain to your essential self, you understand simply, just like you understand yourself from being close to yourself.
When you love someone very much, you don't need any reason to explain why. If you can explain why you love someone that means that there is a reason why you shouldn't love them, but because of a greater reason you feel compelled to get past the barrier. However, when you are really close there is no barrier. When we are really close to Hashem we understand that the Chukim are so natural for us, and we realize that it was only our distance from Him that created the barrier in the first place.
There are many aspects that directly affect the quality of our service in Hashem's Sanctuary. Lying to your self imposes a different kind of barrier, and a very dangerous one at that. In the last paragraph at the end of the Amiddah we pray: "My God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips "mee-dabeyr" from speaking deceitfully."
In (Bamidbar 7:89) we find another meaning of the word 'mee-dabeyr'; "He [Moshe] heard the voice [of God] 'mee-dabeyr' speaking- to him, from above the covering of the Holy Ark." Rashi on the verse explains that this word actually implies that Moshe would hear 'Hashem talking to Himself'.
Thus we can also translate the above prayer as 'guard my tongue from speaking deceitfully to myself'.
There are lies we tell others and there are lies we tell ourselves. We pray that we should not speak deceitfully to others or to ourselves. All too often we deceive ourselves. We think that we cannot be closer to our children, because…; we cannot be closer to Hashem because…; we cannot be better friends because…; I cannot learn more Torah because, because, because.
One of the lies we tell ourselves is that I can never be close to Hashem again because I have done so much wrong. Whatever the lie, if we lie to ourselves often enough we end up swallowing the lie and we begin to believe it, 'chas v'shalom'; this causes us to be distant from Hashem and then we have a need to understand the reasons for the Chukim- the laws which are not understood when we are afar; they are understood only by being close to Hashem.
2. ספר הקדושה In the Talmud sefer Vayikra is known as ‘Torat Kohanim’ – the Book of the Kohanim since most of the laws pertaining to the Temple services and the Kohanim- priests who were from the tribe of Levi [hence the name Leviticus] are found in Vayikra. Yet many, many other mitzvot that pertain to all of Israel are found in sefer Vayikra as well. The laws of ‘kashrut’, sexual morality and many laws ‘between man and man’ and also the most famous verse of the Torah "ואהבת לרעך כמוך"- ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, all these and many more are to be found in Vayikra, the third book of the Five Books of Moses.
Rav Steinsaltz, in his talks on the parsha, suggests that sefer Vayikra can also be referred to as ”ספר הקדושה” – The Book of Kedusha [holiness], since almost all of the mitzvot in Vayikra are presented in the context of ‘kedusha’ – holiness. There is the holiness of the Kohanim and the Temple services, and there is the holiness of the people- "קדושים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה'" - you shall be holy because I Hashem, your G-d, am holy. (Vayikra 19:2)
Rav Steinsaltz also points that the root ק-ד-ש – kadosh, appears most frequently in Sefer Vayikra, more than in any other Biblical book. Sefer Vayikra teaches us to be holy and how to be holy. Right here in this week’s parsha we learn that a sin between ‘man and man’ is also a sin ‘between man and G-d’ – you can’t be a servant of G-d without being an honest and kind loving ‘mentsh’!
In the last few verses of our parsha we learn about one who falsely denies illegally possessing that which belongs to another. The examples given are, denying to his fellow concerning a deposit, or money given in hand, or an object taken by robbery, or he withheld funds from his fellow, or he found a lost article and he denied it and swore falsely regarding any one of all these cases.
Since all these are mitzvot/sins are between ‘man and man’ it is very striking to see that the Torah declares וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּה' – these sins are acts of deceit against Hashem! [Thus he must make amends with the one he deceived by paying back the principle plus 20%; and with Hashem by bringing a ‘korban asham’- a guilt offering.]
כא: נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּה' וְכִחֵשׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ בְּפִקָּדוֹן אוֹ בִתְשׂוּמֶת יָד אוֹ בְגָזֵל אוֹ עָשַׁק אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ 5:21 If a person sins, betraying the Lord by falsely denying to his fellow concerning a deposit, or money given in hand, or an object taken by robbery, or he withheld funds from his fellow,
The Hebrew word מעילה means ‘distortion’, ‘misappropriation’, either by misusing something sacred to Hashem or by fraud and embezzlement – both are ‘distortions’ of our relationships with Hashem and with man. Dishonesty is at the same time both a betrayal against man [yourself included] and against G-d.
Rashi explains: If a person sins, [betraying the Lord]: “Rabbi Akiva said: What is Scripture teaching us, when it says, “betraying the Lord”? Since every lender and borrower, buyer and seller, perform their transactions with witnesses and by documentation, therefore, if one denies a monetary claim, he would find himself contradicting witnesses and a document. However, when someone deposits an article with his fellow, he does not want anyone to know about it, except the Third Party between them [namely, God]. Therefore, when he denies, he is denying against the Third Party between them.” — [Torath Kohanim 5:372]
Man possesses a holy soul which is a veritable part of Hashem. "The seal of G-d is truth." (Midrash Shir Hashirim- Song of Songs Rabbah 1:9) Thus, dishonesty is a betrayal and distortion of your own holiness, of the holiness of your fellow man and of Hashem’s holiness.
Hashem demands of us, “and you shall be holy, for I am holy.” Rav Steinsaltz quotes a Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit Rabbah 68:12) which explains that Yaakov's image was engraved in the Throne of Glory above and ‘the angels ascending and descending’ in Yaakov’s dream, are comparing his image here below with his image above. Are they alike?
Your soul, your source of being is in Hashem. Is my behavior here in this world true to my supernal image? Am I, are you living truthfully? Are you the person you are meant to be, are you working towards achieving all the good you are capable of?
The context of sefer Vayikra is holiness; the holiness of man, time and space. May we be blessed to be conscious of our holiness and to fulfill our great responsibility of making this world a true dwelling place for Hashem.
וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים, וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ “And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Shmot 19:6) Chassidut explains that to be holy is to be transparent to your source. In everything we do we are to let G-d’s holy light shine through and illuminate our world. Whether in offering a sacrifice, or in saying hello to one another in the street, may we be blessed to be true sanctuaries of G-d. Amen!
And all this is so related with Purim. In a lesson on Purim Reb Shlomo זצ"ל said “I want to be so close to God. I want to be so close to God that if I just have the smallest notion that this is what God wants me to do, I’m jumping out of my skin. I’m intoxicated. There’s nothing in the world which can stop me. There is nothing in the world which can stop me. If I know that my friend needs me, I’ll walk barefoot till the end of the world. Till the end of the world.”
קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ: כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי ה' אֱלֹקיכֶם
Hashem says: “You shall be holy!”
As Reb Shlomo would always say, “bless me and I bless you back” that we should always joyously honor our holiness; our ability to be truly close with one another, with Hashem, with the holy Torah and with the Holy Land Eretz Yisrael. B’ahavah!
Three levels in approaching Hashem: Meditation, Action and broken heart filled with Awe.
by Dalia BenMoshe
Three levels in approaching Hashem: Meditation, Action and broken heart filled with Awe. We find Hashem “calling” to Moshe three times in the Torah. The first of these is in Exodus Chapter 3, when Moshe came to the mountain of G-d for the first time and saw the burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. ג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה--אָסֻרָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה, אֶת-הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה: מַדּוּעַ, לֹא-יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה. 3 And Moses said: 'I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.' ד וַיַּרְא יְהוָה, כִּי סָר לִרְאוֹת; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹקִים מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה, וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה--וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said: 'Moses, Moses.' And he said: 'Here am I.'
The Sforno says that Moshe turned aside to meditate on the vision of the burning bush that was not consumed. Moshe had acted to save the life of a fellow Jew and consequently he had to flee from Pharaoh’s sword. He was, so to speak, consumed by his good deed. Would he ever again be able to help in the salvation of his people? And so Hashem led him to the mountain of G-d where He showed him the burning bush. Moshe ‘turned aside to see,’ to meditate on the presence of the holy Infinite One b”H within the finite.
Meditating on the presence of Hashem, does not bring you that much closer to Hashem. But it does arouse the soul to yearn for and demand coming closer to Hashem. Because Moshe turned aside, because he was ready and yearning to be open to something greater than anything he had ever seen before, Hashem called to him and taught him secrets of coming closer.
ה וַיֹּאמֶר, אַל-תִּקְרַב הֲלֹם; שַׁל-נְעָלֶיךָ, מֵעַל רַגְלֶיךָ--כִּי הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עוֹמֵד עָלָיו, אַדְמַת-קֹדֶשׁ הוּא. 5 And He said: 'Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground.'_
The second time we find Hashem calling to Moshe is in Exodus Chapter 19 when the Children of Israel had arrived at Mt. Sinai. Here Moshe does more than meditate; he actively ascends the mountain. ג וּמֹשֶׁה עָלָה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו ה', מִן-הָהָר לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב, וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying: 'Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
The holy Zohar says that from here we learn that one who makes the active effort to be purified and come closer, is assisted from above. Here Moshe Rabbeinu is actively moving to ascend towards Hashem. This is higher than meditation. When man actively moves towards Hashem, Hashem calls to him in a deeper way and opens gates of loving kindness. Whereas the first time G-d reveals Himself to Moshe with the name ‘Elokim’ – the attribute of ‘din’- judgement, here He reveals Himself to him with the name ‘Hashem’ – the attribute of ‘chessed’- loving kindness, thereby allowing and helping Moshe come even closer to G-d than ever before.
The third time we find Hashem calling to Moshe Rabbeinu is at the opening of sefer Vayikra: Leviticus Chapter 1 וַיִּקְרָא
א וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁהָ; וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר. 1 “And the LORD called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying:”
What prompted Hashem to call Moshe in this instance? The Midrash Tanchuma explains by juxtaposing the beginning of Vayikra with the end of Shmot, where it says: לד וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן, אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן. 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. לה וְלֹא-יָכֹל מֹשֶׁה, לָבוֹא אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד--כִּי-שָׁכַן עָלָיו, הֶעָנָן; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.--
Imagine, you worked so hard both physically and spiritually to build your Mishkan, a dwelling for G-d here on earth, within you, and Hashem fills it so much that you can’t go in. The Midrash Tanchuma explains that Moshe Rabbeinu stood outside the Mishkan and was fearful of entering therein because “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Imagine how broken hearted Moshe Rabbeinu was that he could not enter. Why did he fear to enter? (Maybe we can understand this as follows.) Once the Mishkan was completed and the glory of G-d filled the tabernacle, Moshe Rabbeinu realized that it was so much greater than he had ever imagined. To understand and accept that all our devoted toil turned out to be so small in comparison with the greatness of the Mishkan is frightening. Because Moshe was utterly humbled and broken hearted by Hashem’s glory; because he feared to enter, Hashem called to him!
The Netivot Shalom (Vayikra p.12-13) says that it is the broken heart that receives the highest levels of Shechina in-dwelling. As Yeshayahu prophesizes, the Most High dwells with the broken hearted: טו כִּי כֹה אָמַר רָם וְנִשָּׂא, שֹׁכֵן עַד וְקָדוֹשׁ שְׁמוֹ--מָרוֹם וְקָדוֹשׁ, אֶשְׁכּוֹן; וְאֶת-דַּכָּא, וּשְׁפַל-רוּחַ, לְהַחֲיוֹת רוּחַ שְׁפָלִים, וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לֵב נִדְכָּאִים. 15 For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is broken hearted and of humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Is. 57:15)
The Alter Rebbe explains that the משכן was filled with such an awesome supernal light that was beyond anything that Moshe Rabbeinu was able to grasp, beyond anything that even the highest angels could grasp. Such supernal light appears to man and angel as darkness, because it is so bright that you cannot see it, and so, you cannot enter the sanctuary!
what do you do then? you yearn you wait you pray to be invited in you must be strong not to entertain or give in to doubt not to listen to the lies of darkness humble down without thoughts about what you think you deserve without thoughts of entitlement pray again and again to be invited in pray to yearn to be invited in pray to never doubt to never let go of the reality of Purim pray not to be fooled by the lies of darkness especially when encountering holy darkness
don’t give up don’t despair wait and listen until you will hear the calling to enter until then keep on being truly b’simcha for joy breaks through all the barriers Amen כן יהי רצון
The Netivot Shalom continues and says that the same is true in regards to entering into the gateway of the holy Shabbos. The humble and broken hearted are ‘called’ to enter. If one does all the necessary preparations for Shabbos and is not overcome with awe when Shabbos arrives, he will get only as much Shabbos holiness as he himself imagined. But if we can take a few minutes before Shabbos and meditate on the holiness of Shabbos, meditate on true and complete Unity, we could realize that Shabbos is so much greater and beyond anything that I can conceive, then, no matter how much we did to get ready to receive, we would be humbled and with a sense of holy shame and holy broken hearted.
Remember the fiery words of the holy Kotzker זי"ע – “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart!”
and of course you won’t be surprised to hear that we have to do it all בשמחה – b’simcha, with joy in order to succeed all our systems need to be ‘on’ and integrated only when we are בשמחה filled with joy are we fully present and one with Hashem only when we are filled with joy can we connect with עד דלא ידע beyond the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’ משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה when the month of Adar arrives we increase with joy we reach beyond knowing we discover how close we are how connected we are with the ‘tree of life’ Be blessed with utmost simcha!
Moshe Rabbeinu and Adam haRishon
Concerning the small ‘aleph’ in the opening word “VAYIKRa”, we have learned that this signifies Moshe Rabbeinu’s humility. The Kli Yakar teaches that from this we also learn that Moshe merited to be called by Hashem because he was humble. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l explains why it is particularly in this parsha that Moshe’s humility is alluded to.
The small ‘aleph’ in our parsha stands out in contrast to the big ‘aleph’ at the opening of the Book of Chronicles I, 1:1, which starts with “Adam, Seth, Enosh.” There Adam is written with a big ‘aleph’. The Alter Rebbe explains that just like by Moshe we find a small ‘aleph’ because he made himself small, so too the big ‘aleph’ in Adam signifies that Adam recognized his greatness over the rest of creation; this made him proud and his pride led him to transgress and eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Based on this explanation of the Alter Rebbe the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that Moshe’s humility was a ‘tikkun’ – a fixing for Adam’s pride. It is for this reason that Moshe Rabbeinu’s humility is alluded to particularly in this parsha which is about the dwelling of Shechinah in the Mishkan. The Rabbis in the Talmud taught that the sin of the Tree of Knowledge brought ‘zuhama’ - contamination into the world and caused the Shechinah to distance itself from the world. This ‘zuhama’ ceased when we received the Torah art Mt. Sinai, but returned again when we made the ‘golden calf’. The dwelling of the Shechinah in the Mishkan signified that Hashem had forgiven us for the sin of the ‘golden calf’. And so the return of the Shechinah also symbolizes the atonement and the ‘tikkun’ of the transgression of the Tree of Knowledge.
It is for this reason that Moshe’s humility is alluded to in this parsha which is about the dwelling of the Shechinah in the Mishkan, because it was Moshe’s humility that brought atonement for Adam’s pride, which had led to his transgression. The dwelling of the Shechinah in the Mishkan is the sign that Hashem forgave the transgression.
VAYIKRa – Learn and Teach Torah with LOVE
"VA'YIKRa EL MOSHE," – The phrase "He called unto Moshe," appears only three times in the Torah. Rashi explains: "Whenever Hashem 'spoke to' or 'said to' or 'commanded' Moshe, Hashem always called to him first. The 'calling' unto him before speaking to him is an expression of Hashem's love to Moshe."
Thus we learn before Hashem taught any Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu, He always first expressed His love for him. We need to understand if Hashem always called unto Moshe before learning with him, why does this phrase appear only three times in the Torah and why did Moshe write the word VAYIKRa with a small aleph?
The Baal Ha-Turim explains that Moshe who was the humblest person 'upon the face of the earth' (Bamidbar 12:3), did not want to write in the Torah that Hashem 'called unto him' before He spoke to him. But Hashem did want him to write this. So at first Moshe wrote "VAYIKR" without the 'aleph'; VAYIKR means that He appeared to him [as if] only by happenstance. But the Holy One Blessed is He, told him to write the 'aleph' as well, so Moshe wrote a small 'aleph'. [From far you would only see 'VAYIKR'.]
Even though Hashem always called unto Moshe before He spoke to him, as Rashi explains, nevertheless, the phrase "Vayikra el Moshe" appears only three times in the Torah. On the other two occasions, at the burning bush when Moshe encounters Hashem for the first time, and when Hashem called to Moshe to ascend Mt. Sinai, the phrase is contextually expected. However here, at the beginning of Vayikra, Rashi notes that it is unusual, since it does not appear elsewhere when Hashem 'spoke to' or 'said to' or 'commanded' Moshe. With the Baal HaTurim's explanation we understand why Moshe wrote the phrase altogether and why he wrote it with a small 'aleph'. But we still need to understand why did Hashem insist that Moshe write this phrase [even if only one extra time] and what can we learn from the fact that it appears particularly here, at the opening of sefer Vayikra with the mitzvah of bringing sacrifices to Hashem?
I believe that there is an important teaching to all of us that is embedded here. Just as Hashem expressed His love to Moshe before teaching him Torah, so too before you teach someone Torah, you must first express your love for the one you are going to learn with. There is a dimension of Torah that gets transmitted only with love. Even the intellectual aspects of Torah require love to be fully communicated.
And why is this teaching found particularly here at the beginning of Va'yikra, rather than anywhere else?
It is an ancient custom that when little children first start to learn Torah, the first verses they are taught to read, are the opening verses of sefer Va'yikra. We learn this from the Midrash Va'yikra Rabbah (7:3): Rabbi Assi asks: Why do children start learning Torah with the opening verses of sefer Va'yikra - תורת כהנים - The Book of Leviticus? And Rabbi Assi answers: It is because the young children are pure and 'korbanot'- sacrifices are pure. Let those who are pure come and study the matters of purity.
By writing Va'yira el Moshe exactly where the child first reads from the Torah, Moshe Rabbeinu is telling all teachers of Torah, especially those who teach young children, "before you teach the child Torah, be sure to tell him that Hashem loves him!" And this is true as well for all of us; whenever you share Torah, let it be with love.
The Sweet Learning Of The 'Aleph-Bet'
According to our tradition on the first day that a Jewish child would start going to learn in 'cheder', his parents would wrap him in a tallis and carry him all the way to school. At this first encounter with learning the holy Torah, the child's teacher would start his first 'aleph-bet' lesson by showing him and saying the names of the letters that had been written with honey on a hard cookie, and the child would then eat the letters. Then the rebbe would read and explain the opening verses of Vayikra to him. Why were these verses chosen for the child's first Torah lesson? The Rabbis explain in the Talmud: The laws of the sacrifices are about 'taharah' [ritual purity], let those who are 'tahor' pure come and learn them.
It is actually very appropriate that we find the phrase "Vayikra el Moshe" at the very beginning of the first Torah portion that is taught to the child. These are the first words that the rebbe will read to the child, and by listening carefully the rebbe hears Hashem teaching him how to teach Torah with love.
The small 'aleph' also suggests that the Torah scholar and teacher must keep his own 'aleph' small. The teacher must make space for the student; this is done with humility. Like Moshe Rabbeinu who did not seek any honor for what he was doing as the teacher of all of Israel, so too all of us who are teaching Torah, must do our work without seeking personal reward or gratification of the self.
The Korban Mincha – The Meal Offering
1: When a ["nefesh" – a soul] person brings a meal-offering to Ad-noy, his offering shall be of fine flour; he shall pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it. 2: He shall bring it to the sons of Aharon, the kohanim; from there, [a kohein] takes his fistful--- from its flour and oil---with all its frankincense. The kohein shall burn its memorial portion on the altar, a fire-offering of pleasing fragrance to Ad-noy. [Vayikra 2: 1-2] Rashi : "When a nefesh brings." "A person" [specifically the word "nefesh" which literally means "a soul"] is not mentioned regarding all the [other] voluntary offerings except the meal-offering. Who is accustomed to bring a meal-offering? A poor person. Said G-d: I consider him as though he had offered his [own] soul. [Menochos 104b.]
One could bring voluntary offerings from animals, fowl or grains. In general the wealthy would bring animal offerings, the less wealthy would bring birds and the poor would bring flour offerings. The poor man's offering is introduced with the word "nefesh" which means a person and also a soul. For the poor man to bring even, a flour offering, is very difficult and thus it is considered like he offered his soul.
I remember one Shabbos morning I saw R' Avrum Feig z"l sitting in his wheel chair in front of his home on DeVimmy St. in Montreal, a few short weeks before he passed away. He lived across the street from the Samborer Rebbe's 'shtibl' that we used to pray in. R' Avrum was a stately and learned Viznitzer Chassid, a 'survivor' who had had a hand in rescuing many Jews during the Holocaust, amongst them, the Bobover Rebbe zt"l. At the end of his life he was very ill for a number of months and could no longer walk on his own.
I crossed the street to say Good Shabbos to him and spend a few moments with him. We usually didn't talk much to each other, as he was of the elder generation. I don't remember what I shared with him, but I do remember what he shared with me. R' Avrum seemed to be a fairly well to do person and was known for his charity. He had a 'siddur', or maybe it was a 'chumash' in his hands and with tears in his eyes he said "Hashem loves the poor man so much, so much! Hashem considers the poor man's offering as if he offered his soul to Him!" R' Avrum kept on crying. I'm not sure why, but I think it may have been because of Hashem's great love for the poor man's offering. I think he may have also been crying wondering if Hashem would consider all that he had done as an offering of his soul.
One who comes to purify himself -- הבא לטהר מסייעין אותו
“Resh Lakish said: What is the meaning of: If it concerneth the scorners He scorneth them, but unto the humble He giveth grace? Prov. III, 34 i.e., if a man comes to defile himself, the doors are opened to him, but if he comes to purify himself, he is helped.” Yoma 38b
We’re always at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Today in particular and especially here at home in Yerushalayim and all of Israel, we all need to be Aaron Ha’kohen’s children and students- loving peace, pursuing peace, loving Hashem’s creative beings, and bringing them closer to the holy Torah.
May we be blessed that our hands will be filled with kedusha, and that we will live in this holy city of Yerushalayim, in this holy land of Eretz Yisrael in true unity b’simcha. Amen!
Think about giving yourself up to receiving all that there is inside the Tent, absorbing it and living it. Remember that we are all kohanim, we have to reach the highest.
Have a wonderful Shabbos b’ahavah ubivracha Sholom