When we reach the end of Bereishit we have a clear sense of a complete story: We began with Creation, the Beginning, and concluded with the Children of Israel in Egypt. The second book of the Torah takes us through the process of a nation developing a strong sense of identity, or Shem, as in Shemot – Names – as they go from being slaves to appreciating their ability to build a House For God and bring His Presence into this world. However, it is more challenging to complete the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, and have a clear sense of what has changed from the beginning of the book to the end. We learned the laws of sacrifices, Cohanim, purity, working the land and relationships. What changed from the beginning of the book of “Calling” to the end?
We all experienced God calling to us at the Revelation at Sinai. Vayikra begins with God calling only to Moshe, and that, from the Mishkan. The book began at a defined place with one person. Vayikra ends with God calling to us from everywhere and within every relationship. That which began in the Mishkan expands to how we deal with other people, even when far away from God’s House. We can hear God’s voice calling to us when we we work the land, and how to connect that land to the Mishkan, no matter how distant.
Just as God’s voice expanded, continually grew stronger, at Sinai, so too, does it grow stronger from the beginning of Vayikra to its conclusion.
This is the book that instructs how to hear God’s call wherever we are. It is the beginning of the Shema. It is our opportunity to fulfill our commitment to “Nishma” beyond the Na’aseh.
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