Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshas Vayikra 5769- Coming closer to G-d

This book of the Torah starts off with “וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֵלָי”  “And G-d called to Moshe and spoke to him”.  There seems to be a redundancy here- surely the fact that G-d called to Moshe implied that he spoke to him, why does the Torah make the point that G-d called out to Moshe first?  Rashi offers a few explanations.  On the simple side it was merely to gain Moshe’s attention and to allow him to prepare to speak to G-d.  However, this answer seems to be in contradiction to what some of the other meforshim say in regards to Moshe, that unlike other prophets in the Tanakh, he was always ready to communicate with G-d and did not require time to prepare.

Another explanation from Rashi is that it is a term of affection, that prior to communicating anything, first he would call him by name, as one friend gaining the attention of another.  This also seems to fit into the theme of what comes next: the description of the various types of Korbanot that were brought.  Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch remarks that the translation of the word “Korban” as “sacrifice” misses the whole meaning of what the Korbanot symbolised.  A sacrifice implies giving something up, depriving yourself of something of value but, as R’ Hirsch points out, the root of the word “Korban” is “Kiruv”- to draw closer.  The purpose of the Korbanot is not for us to give something up and to suffer but for us to draw closer to G-d!

So, where do I see this linking in to Rashi’s explanation of “VaYikrah” being a term of affection?  My understanding is this:  The parshas explicitly starts with a term of endearment, it tells us that we, as the people that follow the Torah brought down from Har Sinai by Moshe, are dear to G-d.  That in listening to G-d we are close to G-d.  However, people are not perfect.  We make mistakes as individuals, as communities as leaders.  Rather than have us think that such mistakes create an irrevocable rift, G-d tells us how we get rid of such a rift.  Yes, maybe if we had been more zealous, taken more care, such a mistake would not have happened.  G-d can see this, G-d knew that we would not always do as we should, that we would need a way to restore that relationship in our own minds even though there might be no need and thus, after the term of affection is used, we are told how we can repair the relationship when we damage it.  We get told of the Korbanot, the sacrifices that R’ HIrsch points out are there to bring us closer to G-d.

The lesson for us all (especially for this of us that are Chozeret B’teshuvah and sometimes wonder how we can ever make up for the actions of our past) is to realise that G-d WANTS a relationship with us.  G-d does not want to chance us away, he wants us to draw near to him.  The sacrifices were one means of kiruv, drawing closer, but there are many others.  As the Mishneh in Pirkei Avot says “The world stands on three things, on the Torah, on the Avodah (Temple service) and on Gemillut Chassidim (acts of Kindness).  We may not have a Temple service to sustain us (though we have the prayers instituted by the Sanhedrin to substitute until the Temple is rebuilt), but the Torah is still there as are our fellow man towards whom we can perform acts of kindness.

PS:  As always I welcome comments, discussions and corrections to this post if I have erred.b


March 26, 2009 - Posted by | Parshah, Torah | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Comment by RaiulBaztepo | March 31, 2009 | Reply

    • Glad you liked it. Never mind the English- I can assure you that my Russian is worse than your English.

      Comment by marcl1969 | March 31, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi ! 😉
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you!
    Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

    Comment by PiterKokoniz | April 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Please- ask questions- make comments and don’t worry about your English- its far better than my Latvian? (Hmm- what lamguage do you speak in Latvia?) And yes- this blog is a hobby and a place to organise my droshas before I give them when I’m filling in for the Rabbi.

      Comment by marcl1969 | April 12, 2009 | Reply

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