VAYIKRA (Leviticus, 1:1-5:26) — “Bringing G-d Home”

He called to Moses, and G-d spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting…  (Leviticus, 1:1) 

The grammar of this verse is problematic – “He called to Moses.”  WHO called to Moses?  Obviously, as we see at the end of the verse, it was G-d who called him.  Wouldn’t the verse be clearer if it said, “G-d called to Moses, and He spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting”?

Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk quotes the Zohar that explains another unusual thing about this verse.  The first word of the verse, Vayikra – and He called, is spelled with the last letter, Aleph, smaller than the other letters. 

The Zohar explains that when the People of Israel were in the desert, G-d was “in exile” with them.  The place of G-d’s true glory is the Temple in Jerusalem.  When there is no Temple in Jerusalem, the Divine Presence of G-d is “out of place.”   G-d, therefore, “shrank Himself” and called to Moses in a reduced way.  (Another explanation for the small Aleph can be read at  “Little Big Man”.) 

So, explains, Rabbi Elimelech, “He called to Moses…” the anonymous He, Who is in exile, far from the place of His glory.  However, after He called to Moses, Moses responded with devotion and dedication.  As a result of Moses’ dedication, …G-d spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting… 

G-d’s various names have various connotations.  The Hebrew word ­“G-d” in the context of this verse denotes a G-d of Mercy. 

Moses was a righteous man who extended all his efforts to live a life of holiness.  As a result of his efforts …G-d spoke to him…  The G-d of Mercy “came out of His exile” and sat on His Throne of Mercy. 

In short. the meaning of the verse is:  He (i.e., G-d, who was away from His place of Glory and was therefore “reduced”) called to Moses, and (due to Moses’ immense sanctity) G-d (“found Himself at home” in His place of glory, and was no longer “reduced”.  Therefore, G-d, with mercy and compassion) spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting… 

It was due to Moses’ greatness that G-d was restored to a place of glory, despite being away from a Temple in Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, you and I are a far cry from Moses.  G-d is, once again, “in exile”.  Who is going to bring Him back? 

In an impassioned prayer of a Jew in exile, King David wrote: 

My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I will whither away like grass. But You, O G-d, sit enthroned forever, and Your mention is in every generation.  (Psalms, 102:13) 

We are weak, but G-d is great. 

Rabbi Elimelech explains that as our Temple continues to lie in ruins, G-d’s Divine Presence continues to be in exile.   We are not as righteous as Moses.  Yet, as King David prayed, we ask him to sit on his Throne of Mercy and have compassion on his People. 

We ask Him not to hide.  We ask Him to come home.  And, some day, He will. 

May it be soon.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

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 FROM THE ARCHIVES

 “Where’s The Beef?” (2010)

 …Leviticus is a vegetarian’s nightmare.  …  Do we, the civilized Jews of the 21st century really expect to return to the antiquated cult of animal sacrifice?! Can you see it… Jackie Mason… slaughtering bulls on the Temple Mount? Meanwhile, Paul McCartney and the animal rights crowd will be protesting outside!  🙂 And should we really be burning all that meat?  Is G-d THAT hungry?  Why not send it to a homeless shelter??! :-)… The interesting thing about animal sacrifice is that there is no such thing…

Read more.

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“Bringing G-d Home” (2008)

 He called to Moses, and G-d spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting…  (Leviticus, 1:1)

 The grammar of this verse is problematic – “He called to Moses.”  WHO called to Moses?  Obviously, as we see at the end of the verse, it was G-d who called him.  Wouldn’t the verse be clearer if it said, “G-d called to Moses, and He spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting”?…  G-d… “shrank Himself” … 

Read more.

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“Keeping Score” (2006) 

I try to write a new Torah Talk message every week…I was planning to write a new message this week.  As you will soon see, I have good reason to send this message, from three years ago, once again. 

Last Shabbos, my family enjoyed the pleasure of hosting a couple whom we have known for many years…  As we sat at the table Friday night, I told them a story about a former student of mine.  I didn’t recall at the time that I had written up the story in Torah Talk, and I certainly didn’t realize that it was written in reference to this week’s Torah Portion. But I was totally unprepared for what met me on Sunday morning…

Read more.

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“Dehydrated Water” (2005)

… Salt is a preservative.  Before the days of refrigeration, they used to preserve meats by salting them.  A well-salted side of beef could last for months without being refrigerated.

Why would you want to preserve foods that are being “consumed” by G-d on the Altar?  If they’re being “eaten” right away, they won’t have time to spoil!  If you cook something and eat it immediately, there is no reason to keep it fresh by putting it in the Fridge!…

Read more.

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“Hey, YOU!” (2004)

… Did you ever send someone a well thought-out message by email?  A little while later, we receive the response — a short, terse, copy of our comments with a two-or-three word response.  No “hello,” no “good-bye,” just the proclamation from on high!…

Read more.

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“Little Big Man” (2001)

They say out there that Jews have horns.  Even Michelangelo thought so – you remember his famous statue of Moses with horns.  Where’d he get that crazy notion? …

Read more.

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 This is the weekly message at www.torahtalk.org.   Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (www.Brisrabbi.com)  and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on March 13, 2008 at 5:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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