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Toledot Yaakov Yosef: Vayikra: Hearing the Call

“And He called to Moses, and God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When a man among you brings an offering to God: from animals, from the cattle, or from the flock

shall you bring your offering (Vayikra 1:1-2).”

My master, the Baal Shem Tov, asked about the Mishnah in Avot (6:2): Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Every single day a heavenly voice emanates from Mount Horeb, proclaiming and saying, Woe to them, to the people, because of their insult to the Torah!” At first glance this doesn’t seem to make sense; if it is impossible for a human being to hear this Heavenly Voice than what is the purpose of the proclamation and the call, and if it is possible to hear this Voice then why would we not be able to hear it? We know that if a person would even claim to hear this Heavenly announcement we would consider him a false prophet.

He explained that Above there are no actual words, or speech. All exists in the world of Thought. This Heavenly Proclamation creates thoughts of repentance that pierce the hearts of those who are attuned to listening to God’s messages.

So we see that in some way it is possible for a person to hear this Call and Proclamation, at the least in his thought, in the inner recesses of his soul. He must have the awareness to understand that a thought of repentance, or a hint of a desire to draw closer to God and to attach, is actually an echo of this Heavenly Proclamation in the world of Thought as it spreads through all the words into the thought of this man. A person must learn how to bend his ear to hear these proclamations; to catch these Heavenly callings so that he can hear and respond. If he does God will begin to speak to him with even more clarity, he will learn how to walk in the ways of God. This then, is the meaning of the verse (Psalms 25:8), “Good and upright is God, therefore He guides sinners on the way.”

This is what is taught in the Holy Zohar (Volume I 99a): How many people are there in this world who are so confused in their minds and twisted in their thoughts that they do not see the way of the truth of Torah!

For the Torah calls to them every day with thoughts, but they do not want to incline their heads to hear her words. And although I have taught that this is the way of Torah, that each word comes out of its enclosure and reveals its light but then immediately goes back into hiding, this is certainly true. Therefore at the moment when the light shines one must be able to catch the light to grasp and to internalize. This is what it means to truly be one who studies the holy Torah.

Such is the way of the words of Torah, that they do not reveal themselves except to those who love her and desire her.  For the Torah knows that the one who is wise in his heart, the one who loves the Torah as the source of his very being, the Torah surrounds him every day around the gates of his house. She reveals her face to him from her deepest courtyards and she sends hints and then immediately runs back into hiding, she reveals these glimpses of light for she knows that one who loves her is constantly paying attention, looking for the insights, listening for the messages.

The Holy One, Blessed is He, is described by the Zohar (Volume I 24a) as Torah. Therefore when we learned that the Torah calls out, we are actually being told that it is God who calls out. He calls out to those who know Him, who love Him. He calls out to those who will respond to these thoughts and insights, not to those who will have a glimpse or a thought and immediately shut it off and run to the local bar.

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