SALT - Friday, 8 Adar Bet 5779 - March 15, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            The opening verses of Parashat Vayikra tell of God calling to Moshe from inside the newly-constructed Mishkan, and then proceeding to convey to him the instructions regarding the various forms of sacrifices.
            Torat Kohanim, as cited by Rashi, notes the significance of the fact that God first called out to Moshe before communicating to him His commands.  Before each time God spoke to Moshe, Rashi writes, He first called to Moshe.  Rashi adds that this demonstrates God’s great love and affection for Moshe, calling him by name as a person calls a close, dear friend, rather than just communicating the message without a “friendly” introduction.
            The question arises as to why Chazal make this point specifically in this context, at the beginning of Parashat Vayikra.  This is not the first time we find God calling out to Moshe.  He called to Moshe the very first time He spoke to him, at the burning bush (Shemot 3:4), and also from atop Mount Sinai after Benei Yisrael encamped by the mountain (Shemot 19:3).  Why is it only in the context of Parashat Vayikra that Chazal comment about the significance of God’s calling to Moshe by name, noting how it expressed God’s special love for him?
            Rav Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro of Piacezna, in his Eish Kodesh (a collection of sermons he delivered in the Warsaw Ghetto), suggested that Chazal perhaps seek to emphasize the “affectionate” quality of God’s “calling” even when it comes in the form of a “sacrifice.”  The sacrifices represent the need to give of ourselves for the sake of religious observance, how Torah devotion often entails difficult challenges and imposes difficult demands.  Chazal here teach that even the sacrifices that we are occasionally called upon to make are a “calling” which expresses God’s special and affection for us.  The hardships and challenges we sometimes face should be approached as opportunities, as a “calling” to grow.  Rather than feel embittered and demoralized, we should instead try to recognize that even life’s challenges are expressions of God’s love for us, to find their hidden blessings and great opportunities, and believe that God is lovingly “calling out” to us every day, summoning us to enter the “Mishkan” and serve Him even under trying circumstances.  We will then offer each and every “sacrifice” with joy and satisfaction, trusting that each is warmly and lovingly accepted by the Almighty.