THOUGHT FOR PARSHAT VAYIKRA – SHABBAT ZACHOR 5779

BY RABBI CHAIM FACHLER

 

The third Book of the Torah is Vayikra, which translates as “And He (HaShem) called (to Moshe).” Not a very exciting name, especially as this word appears dozens of time in the Torah. But if you look carefully, you will notice two odd things about this Vayikra. Firstly, the aleph is tiny. According to our sages, this refers to Moshe’s humility. Moshe was almost embarrassed that HaShem called only to him, and not to his older brother Aharon the Kohen Gadol, the more so since the commandments about to be given all refer to the Service in the Mishkan – Tabernacle.

 

But an even more unique attribute of this particular Vayikra is that it is the first of five expressions of communication in the first two verses: “He called (1) to Moshe, and HaShem spoke (2) to him from the Tent of Meeting saying (3), Speak (4) to the Children of Israel and say (5) to them”. Wow, what an introduction.

 

So why use Vayikra before and as well as Vayedaber, and what is so special about this command or series of commands that require a long drawn-out preface?

 

When the verse finally gets to the point, it reads “When a person “Adam” among you brings an offering to HaShem …” Usually the word used for person is “Ish”. “Adam” is far less frequent. Rashi explains that our verse uses Adam, which is the name of the first human being, to imply that just as Adam did not bring stolen animals as offerings, since the whole world was his, so too no one may serve HaShem with anything acquired dishonestly.

 

This then is the first lesson taught in the third Book of the Torah. Honesty. Honesty in relationships, honesty in charity giving, honesty in life.

 

It’s not just about showing HaShem you wish to get close to Him by coming to the Tabernacle, or Temple, or local Shul. It’s not just about pleasing HaShem by bringing offerings, or praying to Him three times a day. It’s about honesty and integrity.

 

Acts of kindness are always to be encouraged. But not at someone else’s expense. The ends do not always justify the means. Moshe is teaching us that the first step to honesty is humility. Arrogance is the worst enemy of honesty.

 

Amalek were arrogant. They attacked HaShem’s Chosen People. This week we are obligated to remember - “Zachor” - how they became our very own “Public Enemy No 1” by daring to assault us when we were at our weakest. They showed other nations that we do not always merit HaShem’s Divine Protection. For this we need to remember them.

 

We always read Parshat Zachor before Purim. Who was the villain of the Megila? Haman! And you couldn’t find a more arrogant low-life than Haman. We need to prove to HaShem that we have learned the lessons taught by even the first seemingly innocuous verses of this Parsha, and try to act always with humility and honesty.

 

Our eldest grandson Eliav Spector, who made Judith and myself grandparents for the very first time 23 years ago, is getting married next week to a truly special young lady Noemi Epstein. When I think of the words honesty, integrity, humility, Eliav immediately comes to mind. We are so proud of him, and wish him every success.

 

Shabbat Shalom, Purim Sameach,