• August 28th, 2022
  • Elul 1st, 5782


He Called

Presented By
Torah Contributor

Unconditional Love

Vayikra is first portion of the 3rd Book of the Torah. It is focused exclusively on the different types of sacrifices and how and when such sacrifices and offerings are to be made. Interestingly, it is the first portion learned by children when they begin to study Torah. Since the killing of animals and details about how to prepare an offering could not be literally appropriate for a child, we must dig deeper to find the reason and lesson. We learn from Vayikra a fundamental lesson regarding unconditional love. By reading about each of the sacrifices, we see that G-d always forgives and allows a person that has sinned intentionally or by accident, to atone and once again come back into G-d’s good graces. It is this simple yet powerful lesson of being forgiven when apologizing or making a sacrifice that we look to impart upon our children. No matter how far we stray off our path or run afoul of the Torah’s teachings, we can always rebuild our relationships and start again. It is important for children, the seed level of humanity, and all of us to understand this concept of forgiveness and unconditional love from G-d and others in our lives.

Humility in Leadership

In the first word of the portion – Vayikra – there is a small letter Aleph. Whenever there is a small or large letter in the Torah it has special significance. In this instance, the small Aleph is used when G-d “calls” to Moses. We can learn from this that Moses, who led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt to Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, was humble in his ways and made himself “small”. He had a lisp and told G-d early in their relationship that he did not think he was the right person for the job. He showed great strength and leadership in his humility. Similarly, the letter Aleph is also a leader. It is the first letter of the aleph bet and is a derivative of the word Aluf, which means leader or chief. The use of the small Aleph here shows us humility, and more importantly, humility within greatness. Both Moses and the small Aleph remind us that by making ourselves “small”, we actually create an opportunity to achieve greatness and become bigger in life – connecting to our highest selves.

Coming Close

In the description of the laws of sacrifices, the Torah exclusively uses G-d’s holiest name – the Yud Kei Vav Kei, hinting that there is a mystical significance to making sacrifices. The Hebrew word for sacrifice is “korban” and the root of the word means to “come close”. Accordingly, when we make a sacrifice in our lives, giving without agenda in order to atone for a negative thought or action, we “come close” to G-d. In fact the word atone can also be read as “at one” – becoming one with the source and connecting to the infinite. When we share with others through making sacrifices or offerings, we connect to the unity of G-d. Kabbalists and Torah sages recognized that the original sacrifices of killing and offering animals would not be carried on in modern times. They revealed that studying the laws of sacrifices in the Torah would suffice and be a spiritual substitute for the Temple service. By studying Torah, and this portion in particular, we too are able to “come close” to connect to G-d as if we had made a sacrifice.

Power of Sacrifice

Vayikra describes both optional and obligatory sacrifices. It first details the voluntary sacrifices to show that sacrifices made for no reason, as opposed to sacrificing in order correct a transgression or receive a benefit, are of the highest order. When there is no ulterior motive or perceived benefit to the sacrifice, but simply done to make the other person happy, we are able to demonstrate unconditional love and connect to G-d consciousness.