Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion
of Vayikra. After the construction of the Temple in last week’s
portion, this week begins the commandments concerning the
offerings in the Temple. Although the Temple is currently not
standing, and the literal fulfillment of these Mitzvot is beyond
our grasp until Moshiach comes, there are deep lessons to be
learned from them in our daily lives. Further, since we cannot
fulfill these Mitzvot through action, our studying of them is
The portion begins with the
word Vayikra, which means and He (G-d) called (to Moshe). The
Alef in the word Vayikra is smaller than the other letters in
the Torah scroll. This teaches us that in order to hear the call
of Hashem, we must be humble. We mustn’t approach the Torah with
preconceived notions, but rather be ready and anxious to learn
the will of Hashem. The Mitzvah of Matzah echoes this idea. The
Matzah does not rise, symbolizing humility.
The small Aleph teaches another
deep lesson. Without the Aleph, the word becomes Vayakar, which
means coincidence. Everything in the world is by Divine
providence. Often that which appears as a coincidence is Hashem
calling out to us. We must always seek the lesson from whatever
The Ramban teaches that when a
person brings a sacrifice, he should imagine that all of the
procedures that are done to the animal are being done to him.
Hashem, by His kindness, allowed us to bring an animal in our
stead. Chassidut goes a step deeper. The laws of the sacrifices
teach us how to live our daily lives. The primary portions of
the animal that were offered on the altar were the blood and the
fats. Blood is the life and warmth of our bodies. Although much
of our time is spent in mundane pursuit, the excitement and
warmth should be dedicated purely to Hashem. The word Cheilev in
Hebrew means not only fat, but also the finest. Whatever we
possess or come across, the very finest should be reserved for
the service of Hashem.
In a deeper sense we must
sacrifice the animal within ourselves. When the Torah introduces
the subject of offerings, it says “A person who will offer from
among you a sacrifice to Hashem from the animals, the cattle or
the sheep, you shall bring your sacrifice. The grammar of the
sentence demands a deeper understanding. The words “from among
you” seemingly should follow the words “A person”. The Previous
Rebbe explains that the Torah is hinting that the sacrifice
comes from amongst you, from the animal within each of us.
We are a composite of two souls.
Our animal soul parallels the soul of every living creature. It
draws us to fulfill our mundane needs and wallow in mundane
pleasure. By its nature, it is the epitome of selfishness. Our
Divine soul is the spark of G-d within us that makes us strive
to become closer to Hashem. Whenever we break our desires for
the service of Hashem, we are sacrificing our animal soul. The
Torah tells us that the sacrifice can come from the cattle or
the sheep. Some of us have a very course animal soul like a huge
ox. Some have a meek nature like a sheep. Regardless, we must
overcome our nature and become G-dly beings.
May our studying of the
sacrifices hasten the rebuilding of the Temple and may we
celebrate this Pesach in Yerushalayim together with Moshiach.
Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom,