Vayikra

The third division of the work by the hand of Moshe has begun. If you want to stay in tune with the Jewish Bible reading schedule, join us and start with Vayikra, Leviticus. The first portion, also called Vayikra, is about the calling of Moshe. He was called to His position as leader in the previous Torah division called Shemot, Exodus.

This latter calling is because of a phenomenon which makes this desert Temple unique: the presence of the Lord. We read in Shemot 40, just a few verses ago: “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting. And the glory of HASHEM filled the Tabernacle. Moshe was not able to enter into the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested upon it and the glory of HASHEM filled the Tabernacle” (Shemot 40:34-35). It was a heavy step to enter this holiest place on earth. Moshe needed some help with it. That is why the Lord called him from within the Tent of Meeting.

The parashat Vayikra then goes into detail to describe to Moses the sacrifices we had to perform. This too is a unique situation: only Israel has been given the right and the opportunity to get insight into the heart of G-d’s paying our debts we owe Him because of our sins. Each sacrifice showed its particular aspect and facet of life and exhibited G-d’s way to save and forgive us. Mistakes and sins are made in all aspects of life. And the Lord helped us see through the sacrifices how He is working to pay for our making mistakes without our losing the right to eternal life.

This mechanism was never meant to take the place of our own responsibility. It only showed how sins create a debt a human being is never ever able to pay back. Praise G-d for His perfect saving power through the sacrifices which He once again showed through the sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua.

It is not a natural thing to converse and fellowship with the G-d of Israel. For He is holy. And we are not. That creates distance. The calling to be holy as our G-d is holy does not diminish that. It even confirms it. Our Lord knows this, as He shows in His relationship with Moshe our Teacher. And so He calls him, Vayikra, to take that next step.

Come closer to G-d and find out that holiness is a sign of safety and proof of security, not something to run away from. As it says in Psalms 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret hiding place of the Most High will spend the night in the shadow of the Almighty.” Join the reading schedule of Israel. And hear the voice of the Lord calling you to enter into the holiness of His presence.

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland