Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vayiqra "And He Called" 5774

Vayikra (ארקיו | “And He called”) 5774
·  Torah:        Vayiqra (Leviticus) 1:1-5:26
·  Haftarah:   Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 43:21-44:23
·  Brit Chadasha
·        Gospels:      Mark 7:1-30, Luke 12:1-15:32
·        Romans   8:1-13, 12:1
·        Hebrews 10:1-14, 13:10-16
Noting that the word Vayiqra (וַיִּקְרָא) means “And He called/spoke”, Rashi talks about the wording of this parsha.  The word uses a small letter ‘aleph’, which he takes as a point of emphasis. He refers to Balaam, where the scriptures say: ‘And G-d met Balaam’ (Bamidbar (Numbers) 23:4).  The word for ‘met’ used here is vayiqar (וַיִּקָּר­­­), having the connotation of ‘by chance’.  He goes on to explain that with HaShem’s people, there is nothing by chance, but rather everything having a purpose, but those who are outsiders can only have chance meetings.
According to Chabad.org, in the late eighteenth century, as was the custom, on the third birthday, Menachem Mendel, who would become the third Lubavitch Rabbi, was taken by his grandfather, wrapped in a tallith, to start his Hebrew training.  Coming home that night, he asked his grandfather, “Zayde, why is there a small aleph at the end of Vayiqra?.  His grandfather explained that the first man Adam was hand-made by HaShem, with superior intellect to the angels and all other creations, and because of his superiority, became arrogant.  This is supported by the use of a large aleph in Divrei HaYamim Aleph (1 Chronicles) 1:1.  Moshe Rabeinu, however was the meekest man to walk the face of the earth, and even though the Voice of HaShem called him from the Mishkan, the tent of meeting, he was not puffed up.  It has been said that humility is two-fold – the first part is to realize that our powers and abilities are G-d given. The second is that if another person were given the same gifts and calling, he/she would be able to accomplish more.  This was indeed true of Moshe.  He had an assignment from HaShem, and he purposed to complete it to his utmost ability.
Adonai has no need for our sacrifices, in Tehillim (the Book of Psalms), it states that the whole earth is His, along with the fullness thereof (Chapter 24:1).  Psalm 50 also declares that His hunger is neither for the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats.  The purpose of the sacrificial system was not to senselessly kill innocent animals, but to provide a means to clarify and enhance the relationship between HaShem and His people.  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and HaShem hath laid on Him (Yeshua) the iniquity of us all (Yesha’yahu/Isaiah 53:6). The relationship with HaShem was destroyed by our sin (חׇטׇא / chata -- missing-the-mark).  It requires a voluntary sacrifice, which only Yeshua could accomplish.
The sacrificial system provided interaction between the individual, the Kohen, the animal, and Adonai.  Rashi tells us that the wording of Vayiqra 1:2 “. . . כּׅי אָדׇם – When a man’ refers to a voluntary sacrifice.  If a man were under obligation (for the burnt offering), the wording would have been something along the lines of ‘ a man shall bring’.  A man would voluntarily bring an animal from his herd/flock to present to HaShem.  He was present at the killing, skinning, and placing of the animal on the altar. The Kohen would arrange the appropriate pieces in proper order so as to honor HaShem in the whole process.
Neither the tabernacle nor the temple are around, today, so we are (temporarily at least) to offer the sacrifices of prayer, praise, and self-sacrifice (as in Romans 12:1).  Obedience, loyalty, and knowledge of G-d is more desirable than the sacrifice of the blood and flesh of animals.  As a reminder to today’s remnant, the Brit Chadasha discusses the couple Ananias and Sapphira.  They had an opportunity to give an honorable sacrifice, but they chose dishonorable, and with it, death. May we be smart enough to learn from all of these lessons.
The rest of the Torah portion discusses other offerings – the meal offerings, the peace offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings.  The offense for a definite/specific sin is clear in the mind of the individual, and because of that, its restoration is often easier / more complete than one where the person is uncertain as to having violated a Torah prohibition.
Fast-forward the time to the period of the divided kingdom, and we see that history not heeded repeats itself – the Haftarah portion starts with a rebuke for turning from HaShem and his sacrificial system.  Even though Bnai Yisrael have fallen into idol worship, He reminds them that His nature is more than willing to forgive and restore them to Himself.
This Shabbat is International Women’s Day, and Yisrael has joined many countries to promote a safe environment for them in the workplace, as well as spearhead a 6 year project to fight trafficking.  Let us continue to support Yisrael in these times.


Shabbat Shalom.

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