Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26, Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, March 20, 2021

This Shabbat we begin the Book of Leviticus, Sefer Vayikra, the third book of the Torah. This is the book with which, traditionally, a child begins their study of Torah. The central topic of Sefer Vayikra are sacrifices and just as the sacrifices were pure, so children are pure. Thus, our sages say, the pure begin studying the pure. 

Sacrifices were the primary way the ancient Israelites connected with God. It was how imperfect human beings could maintain a relationship with a perfect God. 

How can we maintain our connection with God? We who are not pure as children are. We who no longer have access to sacrifice. 

Perhaps it is found in the first words of our Torah portion, vayikra el Moshe (And God called out to Moses). The first word vayikra is written on a Torah scroll this way וַיִּקְרָ֖א, with the final letter aleph much smaller than the other letters. The Hassidic mystics of the 19th Century taught that this tiny aleph shows us that at Sinai God spoke only the letter aleph, the letter that has no sound. 

Thus, if we want to connect with God, we must learn to sit in silence, for it is in silence that God chose to be revealed at Sinai and it is in silence that God can be revealed to us. If we have the courage and the patience to be silent and to hear God’s call.

~Rabbi Dean Kertesz