Parashat Vayikra וַיִּקְרָא

Now that Bnei-Yisrael have the Mishkan, the laws and are ready to bring Korbanot (“קורבנות”) the holy sacrifices, the Torah uses the first word to announce what HaShem feels about them. The first word is written in a way that it reads “VeYakar-a” (“ויקר-א”) to teach us that we are “dear” to HaShem, his chosen people and one nation under “א.ד.ו.נ.י.” (G-d). Now that HaShem forgave Bnei-Yisrael “וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, סָלַחְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶךָ” and they merited to have His presence dwells amongst them, they are his prize possession. HaShem prides himself (metaphorically) with Bnei-Yisrael, as it’s written “ישראל אשר בך אתפאר”, “Israel in whom I will be glorified” (Isaiah Chapter 49 יְשַׁעְיָהוּ). We notice that the letter “Alef” (“א”) is much smaller then the rest of the letters in the word “וַיִּקְרָא” “Va’Yikrah”. This came to teach us that first and foremost we must always be humble, as the “one”. The first letter in the Hebrew Alphabet, is the letter “א” “Alef”, which also stands for HaShem’s name, this is a profound teaching that even HaShem was humbled. HaShem chose the Torah to begin with the second letter, “ב” “Beit” in the word “Beresheet”, the first word came teach us not to be one (selfish), but to be two (marriage) and be partners in Torah (Chavrutaha) and live with HaShem, make “room” to have Him dwell amongst us.

It is interesting to see that the letter “Alef” (“א”) is constructed with two of the letters “Yud” and one letter “Vav”. This came to teach us that in numerical value all together is 26, just as HaShem’s name is in Hebrew י’ה’ו’ה Yud, Haie, Vav, Haie. Interestingly enough the word “God” in the english language also equals to 26 in gematria (G=7, O=15, D=4), also there are 26 letters in the English language. According to Rabbi Bar-Ami, King David arranged the Hebrew letters in the order they are known to us today. We learn that at the “Burning Bush” the first thing Moshe asks HaShem is to clarify how he should describe Him to the people of Israel. Moshe says “וְאָמְרוּ-לִי מַה-שְּׁמוֹ, מָה אֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם – when I come to Beni-Israel and tell them that the God of your forefathers sent me”, they will ask me what is His name? HaShem answers him with a unique phrase “I will be what I will be”“אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה”. From here we learn that the letter “Alef” was reserved for this statement by HaShem, as all three words begins with that letter. This comes to teach us that HaShem will be everything and everywhere at every time for Beni-Israel. It teaches also us that HaShem name in Hebrew י’ה’ו’ה Yud, Haie, Vav, Haie, means that HaShem has no time relevancy, he was here in the past, he is here now in the present (also means a present/gift while he is with us in the now), and he will be here in the future.

The Zohar teaches us that HaShem’s “cloud of glory” both on Mount Sinai and now on the Mishkan, appears to point out that Bnei-Yisrael will now perform many Mitzvot and good deeds. When we keep all the Mitzvot and Laws, HaShem’s name is complete. When we don’t, his name is incomplete and we are in exile but he is still with us. Now that Bnei-Yisrael keeping all the Mitzvot, HaShem is fully with them dwelling in the Mishkan. By calling upon Moshe, HaShem awakens the Neshamot of Bnei-Yisrael. We also learn from the Zohar that the letter “Alef” (“א”) that is much smaller in the word “Va’Yikrah” (“וַיִּקְרָא”), come to teach us that Moshe now “left” Tziporah once more in order to be pure so he can serve HaShem at any given moment.

The Ben Eish Chai ZT”L explains that when the Torah writes “Adam Ki Yakriv Mikem” “אָדָם כִּי-יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן“ a man of you brings an offering, alludes to a “measure for measure” outcome. The word “Mikem” “מִכֶּם” is and acronym to “מידה כנגד מידה”. The sacrifice ones brings are based on the type of sin or thanks ones fill obligated by. We must always remember that such sacrifice is a “replacement” for us and not to be taken lightly.

The Torah writes the word “light” “אוֹר” five times in the book of Beresheet while referring to creation. These five times represents the five books of “תורת משה” Torat Moshe (our Torah). These five sentences coincide with the following:

  1. “HaShem said let it be light” – creating the light here represents the book of Beresheet.
  2. “And there was light” – bringing the Jewish people out of darkness here representing the book of Shemot.
  3. “HaShem saw that the light was good” – giving Bnei-Yisrael laws and Mitzvot – representing the book of Vayikra.
  4. “HaShem separated the light from darkness” – separating between those who came out of Egypt and those who came into the land of Israel – representing the book of Bamidbar.
  5. “HaShem called out the light and called it day” – providing the spiritual human needs with physical food and animal sacrifice on the Altar for the Jews – representing the book of Devarim.

Another reason that the “Alef” (“א”) is small letter “ויקרא אל משה וידבר יהוה אליו”, also means that HaShem called Moshe very affectionately. To teach us how humble Moshe was, when HaShem called him to come into the Mishkan. Moshe was so humbled that he couldn’t enter at first, as the cloud of glory rested upon the Mishkan. Only after HaShem asked him to enter, he felt worthy to enter such holy place. Only Moshe and the Angels could hear HaShem speak to them directly as it is written “Panim El Panim”, face to face, while in the Tabernacle. We see that Moshe knew that HaShem called him just as he called the Angels. While praying we read in Kedushah “ויקרא זה אל זה ואמר ” “Vayikra Ze El Ze Veamar”. Just as Moshe was speaking to HaShem’s Angels, we emulate that moment everyday. Moshe didn’t want to be considered as an Angel and while writing the Torah, he wrote the letter “Alef” (“א)” smaller, so the word is read as “ויקר” “Vayakar”, as if HaShem called him by accident and not as an Angel. The word “Vayakar” (“ויקר“), and “ויקרא” “Vayikra” can also read as “מיקרה” “Mikereh”, meaning coincidentally. Yet, we must truly understand that nothing ever happened “accidentally” (by random accident) as the word “Mikereh” (“מיקרה”) stands for “מ – י’ – קרה” “MeHaShem Karah”, it all happens by HaShem (there are no coincidence).

The letter “Alef” is the first of the twenty-two letters and it is also spells the word “Aluf” meaning a champion and a leader, yet the Torah writes it in a small size. To teach us that even when we feel as if we are champion and a leader, we must humble ourselves and be like Moshe. Even the Torah start with the second letter “Bet”, to teach us that we come second to HaShem and the humility is first. Amazingly we find that the ineffable four-letter name of HaShem (Y.H.V.H – “י.ה.ו.ה”) who gave the Torah spelled out by seven-letter interval in the entire book of Vayikra וַיִּקְרָא. Starting from the second letter of the very first word “ויקרא” in our Torah as its written: “וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל”. Another proof that our Torah is divine and could have never been written by human.

Only Moshe could hear HaShem’s voice. Most prophets heard HaShem’s voice in their dreams. It’s worth mentioning here that the wicked Bilam was the only non-Jew prophet who HaShem spoke to directly just as He did with Moshe. This act by HaShem was considered as a balance between the purity and impurity forces. We learn that when HaShem called Shemuel Hanavi (Samuel the prophet) in his sleep, first Shemuel thought that Eli, the Kohen Gadol called him as they slept in the same house. Shemuel walked to Eli and asked why did he call him? Eli said that he didn’t and after HaShem called Shmuel three times, Eli understood that HaShem is calling upon Shemuel and didn’t interfere. We also know that the same happened with the prophet Daniel who HaShem spoke to, and people next to him didn’t hear HaShem or saw the Angels next to him, just as HaShem spoke to Moshe.

When HaShem spoke to Moshe in the Mishkan he was the only one who could hear Him. A miracle happened and the voice didn’t escape the tent of meeting. No one could hear the voice of HaShem even if they leaned against the Mishkan walls, a truly “above nature” occurrence. We know that Moshe had a specific elevated spiritual level (“receptacles”) that allowed him with divine frequency of hearing HaShem, as others could. There are many of Hashem creatures as animals who too can hear noises and voices that we human can’t, as we are not “capable” of such frequency. For example, we see sometimes that cats are “suddenly” jumps out and run away, while we couldn’t see or hear anything. Same as with many other animals and creatures who has such ability and access higher frequency. Today we recognize (not see) such “frequency” as Radio-Waves, a proof that we cant really see or hear things, yet they do exists all around us and travels at the speed of light and voice. We utilize this “unseen” divine powers for transmitting images, video and data… iCloud originally known as “Clouds of Glory”.

The word Korban “קָרְבָּן” (sacrifice) comes from the word “Keruv” “קרוב” meaning to get closer. We learn from the Midrash that by offering sacrifices (Korbanot), HaShem teaches us how lucky we are not to suffer as they (the animals) do. Some Midrashim say that the actual act of sacrificing of Korbanot, is to “show” us how things can be in hell for our souls (Neshamot) if we don’t keep the Mitzvot. Our Sages also said that the sacrifices (Korbanot) came from an animal (Behemah) in order to atone for our animalistic behavior and sins. As when we sin we use our non-spiritual side also known as our animalistic side. I in my humbled opinion I believe that the word “HaBehemah” (the animal) in verse 1:2 has a divine message. It has two words in it with several meanings and codes. The word “הבהמה” “HaBehemah” (the animal) speaks only of Kosher animals as the word is actually two words: “Hav Hemah” “ הב-המה ”, the letters “הב” “Hav” are seven in numerical value alluding to holiness (as Shabbat), and “המה” “Hamah” meant they, speaking of holy and kosher animals.

This Parasha speaks of five sacrifices that are designed for specific atonements. The burnt offerings of korban Olah which was completely consumed by fire and none of its parts was allowed to be eaten. The korban Mincha, unlike other sacrifices who are from animals, this one was from flour offered by a poor person who couldn’t afford the expensive animal. Through the korban Shleamim, which is the Peace offering, we thank HaShem for joyful accessions. The sin offering, korban Chatat, is to atone for specific sins such as the 39 restrictions of Shabbat (but for only 38 of them) and unintentional sins by the high court and the Sanhedrin. The guilt offering, the Asham was to repent for using property set aside to HaShem.

There are seven Tzadikim who offered sacrifices (Korbanot) to HaShem in the past prior to the Mishkan and they are:

  1. Adam – after being driven out of heaven, seeing darkness for the first time he awoke the next day (and the day after) and saw the sunlight and believed that HaShem forgave him for his sin of eating from the tree of knowledge. He offered a sacrifice (Korban) thanking HaShem. Adam sacrificed an Ox with one horn to allude to his wining over the evil inclination and the one horn resembled the one good inclination left in him.
  2. Hevel – he felt that he must thank HaShem for all that he had, and he brought his best to be sacrificed on the Altar that his father built.
  3. Noach – after the Mabul he offered a sacrifice to Hashem in order to thank him for letting him and his family survive the flood. He also thanked HaShem for the opportunity to build a new world, and HaShem liked his sacrifices and promised to never again destroy the world.
  4. Avraham – built four Altars thanking HaShem for everything, including his son.
  5. Yitzchak – built one Altar and offered sacrifice to thank HaShem.
  6. Yaakov – built two Altars and offered sacrifices to thank HaShem for Yosef.
  7. Moshe – built Altars after the war with Amalek, before the receiving of the Torah.

It is also known that Aaron built an Altar after “creating” the Golden-Calf in order to offer sacrifice to HaShem (only) and ask for forgiveness, but since this Altar is connected as part of the sin, it wasn’t considered as the holy offerings. It is worth mentioning here that whenever the Torah mentions “Adam” it comes to teach us about its negative connotation as he sinned. In other cases the Torah write “Eish” while speaking of positive connotation, which man should adopt. Only Kosher animals were allowed to be sacrificed on the Altar. We know that there are many animals in the world since creation. The question was asked why the Torah mentioned only the names of the Kosher animals and not all the rest, non-kosher, animals. This to teach us that there are much less Kosher animals and it will be easy for us to remember them, verses trying to remember all the non-kosher ones. It is also good to know that the Giraffe, buffalo and water-Ox are also Kosher. Even though they are not mentioned in the written Torah, since HaShem gave us enough others Kosher (and easy to handle) to eat.

We learned from parashat Noach that the Kosher animals were the only ones who Noach had to go and get by himself as all other non-kosher came to the Ark on their own. He brought seven sets of Kosher animals, unlike a single pair of the non-kosher to the ark.

In the second verse we see that the Torah writes “When Adam (a man) offers a sacrifice” the word Adam here alludes to the first Adam in the book of Beresheet. Usefully the Torah writes “Eish” (man) while speaking about individuals. This came to teach us that even though Adam was alone and never took anything from anyone he understood the divine purpose of the sacrifice. So too we must only bring what we personally own to be sacrificed, as HaShem will never accept a stolen property to be sacrificed as our own. We also learn that when we are alone (as mostly when we sin) we must always offer sacrifice to HaShem to ask for a personal forgiveness and to get closer to HaShem. The actual purpose of any sacrifice is to have one individual get such closeness to HaShem with his/her sacrifice. As HaShem ordered us to perform such Mitzvah of Keruv (closeness) as sacrifice. According to the Ramba”n, we must bring both our intellect and our emotions as one in order to thank HaShem while offering a sacrifice.

We also notice that the sacrifices come from a specific group of animals who do not kill other animals (as lions, tigers and other predators do). The Kosher animals are peaceful by nature, and do not prey on human and other animals in the wild. They are made for a divine purpose of Korbanot and Kosher eating and they all respect each-other, hence “Petting Zoo”. HaShem loves the ones who live in peace and “chase” humility as all these kosher animals do. We also see that the only type of bird that was allowed to be sacrificed were the peaceful doves and pigeons. It’s worth mentioning here that doves and pigeons are the most faithful and loyal mates in the animal kingdom. They are the only birds (and animal) that will never mate with others after their spouse (mate) passes away, and they will remain alone till death. The use of pigeons as “mail-carriers” is a direct results of such divine loyalty to their mate. By bringing first both pigeons to each location, and then separating them… insures that the will find each other and deliver the mail. Sheep and cattle are the quietest animals as they too were the only ones allowed to be sacrificed to HaShem. The word sacrifice also teaches us that we give back something that belong to us (as was given By HaShem), in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of offering for its specific purpose. The sacrifice was never offered as a gift, but as a sacrifice to HaShem to atone and to thank Him for our benefit. Its good to point out that all predators animals have eyes in the front, and all hunted animals have eyes in their side for ability to see better and be alert.

The kind of sacrifices that mentioned in the Torah are “from the animals” (“מן הבהמה”). These animals are to be sacrificed on the “Altar” (“מזבח”). It is interesting to see that both animals and Altar (“הבהמה” and “מזבח”) have the same numerical value of 57. They are both providing an equal part in order to complete a Mitzvah as measure for measure. This came to teach us that they are equal (to each other) as they atone for the attribute of “Midah Keneged Midah”.

It will be good to know that only by HaShem’s divine creation all Kosher animals have only two main blood arteries (jugulars) in the front of their throat, in order to allow for fast and less painful slaughtering for sacrifices. Unlike the non-kosher animals that all have four main blood arteries (jugulars) two in the front of their throat and two in the back of their neck. So when we make a sacrifice with a Kosher animal, they do not suffer as much. The non-kosher animals bleed for a much longer time, due to the blood flow and “pay” for their (reincarnation) sins. The Midrash tells us that the reason for such a “system” is to provide for a “Tikun Neshamot“ “תיקון נשמות”( fixing/purification of their soul. Only after such “Korban” this Neshamah (soul) will be closer (“Krovah”) to HaShem. Our Sages say that when HaShem and the Angels debating whether to allow a person to continue living, one must perform a confession (“Viduy”-“ וידוי”) and places his hands on the head of the Korban, and with his sincere prayer HaShem will forgive him.

Only when one sincerely asks for forgiveness by offering a sacrifice, HaShem agrees to take the soul of the Korban as atonement and “replacement” for his/her own soul. Today unfortunately we do not have a Beit-HaMikdash to offer such sacrifices (“korbanot”) and our daily prayers are in lieu of such Korbanot “נשלמה פרים שפתנו”. We do have a specific number of prayers on each day, and on each holiday that coincide with the Korbanot that were offered in the Beit-HaMikdash. These prayers are testaments to the Korbanot and designed to thank HaShem and ask for forgiveness, as all sacrifices were designated for. We know that HaShem dwells among us regardless of where we are or weather we have the Beit-HaMikdash or not, so our prayers are always welcomed by HaShem just as Korbanot.

In chapter two verse one the Torah writes “Nefesh who will offer a sacrifice” (“וְנֶפֶשׁ, כִּי-תַקְרִיב קָרְבַּן”) meaning a soul, speaking of a poor person. Why would the Torah says soul and not a person (Adam or Eish) as it has been written before? This came to teach us that when a poor man brings a sacrifice (as it is if loosing his soul), HaShem loves it as much (and even more) as the sheep and cattle offerings. This is just as a Tzedaka given by a poor man who barely have anything to give, yet he/she performs such Mitzvah with full belief in HaShem. Regardless of their misfortune, their givings is considered higher then one of a rich person. We know that it is easier (in most cases) for a rich person to give Tzedakah or bring Korban to HaShem, but when a poor person does it, it is as if his Neshama does it. This act is considered as if he sacrifices his soul (“Hakriv Nefesh”), regardless of his hardship. The Gemara teaches us that when a poor person prays that his poor friend will have money first, and receive help from HaShem before them, HaShem will most certainly will provide for both. There is no greater Tzedaka as the one received from a poor person, as the amount of faith is surpasses all his/her needs and pain. We must always understand that HaShem gives us the merit of giving Tzedakah, to teach us that we too can be on the receiving-end and it is a blessing to be on the giving-end.

The only animals that are allowed to be sacrificed from the kosher cattle are three kinds:

  1. Ox – male and female
  2. Sheep – male and female
  3. Goat – male and female

The only two kinds of birds that are allowed to be sacrificed are:

  1. Pigeons
  2. Turtledove

One of the reasons HaShem chose such peaceful animals is to teach us that just as they never attack, we too should be as them, peaceful and avoiding attacking anyone. It is always better to be humble and peace-loving person so that our lives will follow such a path, as well. The reason HaShem picked the Pigeons and the Doves, is to teach us we should emulate them. They are the most peaceful, faithful, and loyal animals, and they always stay true to each other even after ones mate dies. They will never look for another mate and stay close to their family and to HaShem. Our divine Sages points out a divine secrets about the use of pigeons as method of delivering “mail” and messages across vast distances. The question is “how does the pigeon knows where to fly to and deliver the note?”. Our Sages taught us an amazing fact about such dilemma. The pigeons grower use to separate the male from the female and place them one in each location as home-base and delivery destination. The male will then fly to find his female mate (deliver the note) and vice versa.

We learn from HaShem’s divine creation many good attributes of animals, such as those of the Ant, the dog and a cat in the Gemara. When one Ant looses its grain while collecting food for the colony, no Ant will ever pick it up and take it as they cross the same path, they do not steal. So too we should learn from such behavior and always return a lost item that we find to its rightful owner. This is HaShem’s way of testing us, and seeing whether we learn from His divine creations. We also learn from the Cat about cleanness and modesty, as they always clean after themselves and cover their “stuff”. The Gemara teaches us that we can learn all from cat and rooster. The Talmud – Eruvin 100b – cites the following verse concerning the One Creator of all life: “He teaches us from the animals of the land, and from the birds of the heavens, He makes us wise”. We learn that “If the Torah had not been given to us, we would have learned modesty from the cat, the avoidance of theft from the ant, marital fidelity from the dove, and good manners in marital relations from the rooster, who appeases his mate before having relations with her.”


Yoram Dahan
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