KOL HA’TOR Presentation
Weekly Bible Reading #23 - Year 5773 (2012/2013) – March 16, 2013
Parashot Va'yikrah (And He called ): Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Haftarah: Isaiah 43:21-44:23
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavors to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
DISCLAIMER - The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA'TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
The last five Parashot of the Book of Exodus explained the structure of the Tabernacle and its vessels, and Exodus concluded with an account of how the completed Sanctuary was finally erected and arranged by Moses on the 1st of Aviv, almost one year after the Exodus from Egypt. This was all done according to the Instructions of HaShem. With the dedication of the Sanctuary, the Cloud of G-d's Glory (His Shechinah) covered the Tent of Meeting.
Exodus 40:34 – “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the Glory of HaShem filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it and the Glory of HaShem filled the Tabernacle.”
We have contemplated how one of the main purposes for the Tabernacle was, that “in this way the omnipresent Spirit Being, the G-d of Israel, could dwell amongst His People, guiding them by day in a Pillar of Cloud, and by night in a Pillar of Fire.” We have also considered the possibility that HaShem, similarly, wishes to “indwell the physical bodies” (tabernacles) of His People individually. In the same manner, ultimately, He would “completely fill” such a person.
Now that the Sanctuary was complete, the next step is for us to learn what is to be done in it - what our responsibilities are. The book of Va'yikrah (Leviticus) begins with the detailed Commandments relating to the sacrifices, since these were to be the main activity in the Sanctuary and in the Temple throughout the generations.
Our Haftarah, in Isaiah 43:21 proclaims: “The people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My Praise.” But, in the succeeding verses He complains:
Isaiah 43:23 – “You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings (‘Horban Olah’ elevation offerings) nor honored me with your sacrifices. You have not bought any fragrant calamus for Me or lavished on Me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened Me with your sins and wearied Me with your offenses."
Clearly, He requires our thanksgivings and praises. Sins, He forgives ... but where are the Praises and exultations?
Almost the complete book of Va'yikrah is about sacrifices, offerings and libations. When we search it in the spirit of finding our responsibilities in regard to our “living Tabernacles dedicated to HaShem”, we are bound to turn what otherwise presents the “driest” section of the entire Bible, the book of Va'yikrah (Leviticus) into “a Fountain of Living Waters.”
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum from Azamra Institute writes in his commentary on Va'yikrah:
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum – “G-d’s challenge to ALL of the Children of Israel was to be ‘a kingdom of PRIESTS and a holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:6). While only the Cohen-priest may officiate at the offering of sacrifices, they could be brought by all. Many of the other Commandments in Leviticus relating to ‘holiness’ apply not only to the Cohen-Priests but to all of us.
At the very heart of Leviticus is Parshas KEDOSHIM, ‘Be holy.’ (Exodus ch's 19-20) which contains the fundamental laws governing man's behavior to his fellows. This is explicitly addressed to all of the Children of Israel (Leviticus 19:2). The book of VAYIKRA also contains Commandments that apply to Gentiles. These include the laws of sacrifices with which our present Parshah of VAYIKRA, opens: the first commandment is that of KORBAN OLAH, the ‘elevation’ or whole-burned offering, which both Israelites and Gentiles are eligible to bring.”
At the Woodlands Community Temple at White Plains, New York, Rabbi Billy Dreskin states the following concerning the temple sacrifices given to the G-d of Israel:
Rabbi Billy Dreskin – “Leviticus, the third book of the Torah, is not the most compelling by a long shot ... Leviticus’ limitations aside, it’s my favorite book of the Torah, not because it’s a page-turner, but because it’s about human responsibility. Its words have God challenging us, saying, “You want to have a relationship with Me? Then there’s stuff you need to do. You want blessings in your life? You’re going to have to work for them.”
The Torah has a way of working things out through purgation offerings. But with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple, we had to find an alternative path to taking care of our shortcomings. So now, the sacrificial offerings have become a symbol of our efforts in life to make things right.
We need a pathway to return. We may find it in prayer, in relationship, or in brave yet difficult action. However we proceed, that path is likely to be far more constructive (and healing) than running from the problem. Leviticus is about sticking things out. While yes, we make mistakes—and plenty of them—we don’t run away but, to the contrary, we try to make things right. For our ancestors, a goat or a ram offering did the trick. For us, there are offerings of the heart that accomplish the needed repair.”
Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) at the Jewish Museum, New York.
Rabbi David Kaufman, also at Woodlands Community Temple gives us this summation:
Rabbi David Kaufman – “What do we do to make things right? With what have we replaced these offerings? Certainly, we replace them with prayers and songs, but words alone hardly do justice to the actions and intentions symbolized by the ancient sacrifices.
Actions must accompany our words. I am reminded of the passage from Isaiah, Chapter 58:6–9: ‘This is the fast I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, ... ; it is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin. Then shall your light burst through like the dawn ... Then when you call out, the Eternal will answer; when you cry, G-d will say: Hineini, Here I am.’”
Mark Kirschbaum, Tikkun Daily, concludes the following in regard to the Sacrificial system of the Torah:
Mark Kirschbaum – “Once we are ‘trained’ in recognizing sacred otherness in our spiritual lives, we have the capacity to recognize that every person has their own unique set of needs and drives, their needs are not our needs, and we find ourselves living properly in community (perhaps this is what is meant when Avraham is congratulated for not holding back his son from God at the Akedah – that Avraham reached the point where he truly allowed another living being to individuate, that is the sacrifice, the sacrifice of the illusion that one has control over another).
Thus the true moment of atonement comes when one realizes that the world is not narcissistically absorbed in one’s own sins, etc., but rather, when one realizes that all living beings, in their own unique and free way, are part of a whole community of life, each with their own specific needs and desires, where the truest atonement (and sacrifice) is the recognition of the Other’s existence and autonomy.”
Consider this concise delineation of the main purpose of the Tabernacle or Temple in the light of our previous discussion (Parashat Va'yakhel) regarding the related root meanings of Shechinah, viz. dwell, neighborhood, neighbor). Thus: the indwelling Spirit of HaShem in our human tabernacles requires the corrective attitudes and actions towards our neighbors (community) in life. This underlies our whole duty and purpose in life - towards our fellow earthlings and towards our Maker. This is what Torah is all about.
The interpretation of Torah has been Divinely mandated to Judah until Mashiach ben David comes who will rule over the nations (Genesis 49:10; refer to our Enlightening Study on this Topic, “Judah -The Lawgiver of God–Part One”
The ancient northern Ten Tribes of Israel rebelled against this authority of Judah for which they were exiled into oblivion by HaShem, cut off from His Covenant. Their reconciliation, however, and Return to the Land was foretold by Divine Oath, filling the major part of Biblical Prophecy - a process which now is in fulfillment as millions of souls across the world are turning to Torah in search of their original Hebraic Roots.
There can be no greater commitment in these Times, by BOTH the Houses of Judah and 10-Israel, then to dedicate our human ‘temples’ to the original Divine Intent, i.e. as a Dwelling Place for HaShem; a sincere study of Va'yikrah (Leviticus) will assist the sincere seeking soul to find its responsibilities to ensure the ultimate full habitation of the Shechinah of HaShem (as in the Tabernacle of old).
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