Choose Shabbat: Vayikra
When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא) is the 24th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings as well as the first reading from the Book of Leviticus (1:1 – 5:26).
According to Wikipedia, Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא), contains 6,222 Hebrew letters, 1,673 words, 111 verses and makes up 215 lines of a Torah scroll – the most letters and words of any of the weekly Torah portions in the Book of Leviticus. Vayikra discusses details about biblical ritual sacrifices such as burnt offerings, meal offerings, sacrifices of well being, guilt offerings and sin offerings.
Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Vayikra:
“The Torah portion begins with the word Vayikra which means “and he called”. Interestingly, the word contains a small letter aleph whose presence changes the meaning of the word from “and he called” to “and he encountered”. The actual word describes an encounter between Moses and G-d which is purposeful and not by chance. (The opposite word would have reflected a chance encounter.) The Rabbis teach that this encounter occurred with the Voice of Hashem emanating over the Holy Ark of the Covenant between the Keruvim.
Whenever Moses sought the guidance of G-d, this is where the Holy Voice occurred. Likewise, we must realize, that there are times in our lives when the problems we sometimes face are seemingly overwhelming. What do we do under these circumstances? We must also be willing to accept the idea that we are subject to Ribono Shel Olam- The Master and Creator of the Universe, and that at times that life perplexes us, we must be able to bend our will to accept Divine guidance. This may occur by praying with the congregation. It may occur privately in a quiet moment in our Chapel which is always available for individual prayer, thought, and meditation. It may occur in privacy at home or wherever we feel close to G-d. The one element that is common to all of these encounters with Hakadosh Baruch Hu – the Holy One- is they usually do not occur by chance. They are planned and important events which may be life altering!
Another explanation of the small letter Aleph is that it represents the children in our family whose faith and love are unconditional and are ever open to new ideas and curious to discover Hashem’s role in their lives. This reminds us that in order to be ready to accept the Divine voice, we must always be willing to share it with Bnai Yisroel- literally “the Children of Israel” If we do so, then we are always deemed worthy of hearing G-d’s still small and steady voice in all that we accomplish in our lives.
Questions to ponder:
- What animals are permitted to be sacrificed?
- What root word is contained in the word Korban? (sacrifice)
- What does this imply for offering sacrifices in the correct frame of mind?
- Why did Aharon and his sons have to offer sacrifices for themselves before offering them on behalf of Klal Yisroel?“
Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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