This week’s Torah portion is the beginning of the third part of Torah, called Vayikra. The titles of the five parts of Torah tell us about the punch line of G-d’s plan with the world. The first part is called Beresheet. It tells about the creation of the world and of all mankind, and of Israel in particular. The Good News of Messiah is communicated: His Spirit over the surface of the undivided waters and the promise that He will break the head of the serpent. And the need we have to see Him having victory over evil is shown in the fact that all of mankind had to leave paradise. We lost our dignity, we need His victory.

The horror of having to leave Gan Eden (Paradise) has been countered with earthly means by the man who was the first representative of Israel: Abraham. Beresheet means: In the Beginning, but also: With the Firstfruit. The Firstfruit is Messiah. With Him Hashem created the world and all of us, and Israel in particular. Messiah created Israel and is available to rescue her at all times. And all of Israel’s soul mates are part of this rescue service.

The second part of Torah is called Shemot. Israel receives her names, the names of our patriarchs to begin with. It is like a baby receiving the name it will be called by. The names describe the characters of the people. And they tell the story of how Hashem used these people to build up His people. The horror of having to leave paradise is further countered by the man to lead Israel back to the Promised Land: Moses.

The disobedience by Adam and Eve in Gan Eden to the few commandments given to them has been answered by Hashem through giving Torah at Mount Sinai. This was one of the necessary steps in restoring mankind. It would have been tremendous to have been able to stay at Sinai with Hashem in our midst. But we had to continue our journey, back to the Promised Land. And Hashem made it possible to keep the Sinai experience with us by providing the Desert Mishkan for us.

The name of the third Torah part is: Vayikra. As said the reading of it started this week. After Israel’s creation and receiving names her calling is realized. This is done through the person of Moses: Hashem called Moses and He spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting (1:1). After the Aseret Hadibrot (Ten Words) and the commandments concerning the priesthood and the Tabernacle commandments are given concerning the different sacrifices and the way people need to treat each other.

Somewhere hidden in the middle of this third Torah part is the important law to “love your neighbor as yourself”. In the Torah part of the name giving the law of loving Hashem was given. For by receiving names Israel received her identity and with it came the love toward the Lord as our response to Him. Now by receiving our calling to work and operate as ministers we needed to love each other and establish and maintain good relationships. We already learned some of it in the second Torah part, like this one to even honor your enemies to a certain degree, or at least his donkey: If you see the donkey of one who hates you (or: enemy) bent down to the earth under the weight which is put on it, you are to come to its help, even against your desire (Exodus 23:5). Created, given our identity and our calling, this is the honor Hashem gives us to partner with Him, hand in hand with our soul mates.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat Beth Yeshua