Hashem is Calling. Is Anybody Home?



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    Hashem is Calling. Is Anybody Home?

    From the desk of Rabbi Nissim Lagziel, mashpia in Oholei Torah: The parsha this week, Vayikra, begins a new book of the Torah with a window to a new light hidden inside the world of sacrifices. The beginning of the parsha and book is very interesting, “And He called to Moshe and G-d spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying.” At first glance, this verse and opening have nothing to do with the topic of the parsha. It’s not like this is a special “calling” that took place only one time in history • Click to Read

    BEGIN WITH A GRIN

    A miserly woman went looking for a gift for her husband. After much searching she decided on an excellent present, a bedside reading lamp.

    When her even more miserly husband received the gift he said in frustration, “What a waste. Now we’ll have to buy a book too.”

    CALL FROM HOME

    The parsha this week, Vayikra, begins a new book of the Torah with a window to a new light hidden inside the world of sacrifices. The beginning of the parsha and book is very interesting, “And He called to Moshe and G-d spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying.” At first glance, this verse and opening have nothing to do with the topic of the parsha. It’s not like this is a special “calling” that took place only one time in history.

    In fact, when you look into the commentaries you find (as Rashi says), “Every [time G-d communicated with Moshe, whether it was represented by the expression] וַיְדַבֵּר, “And He spoke,” or וַיֹּאמֶר; “and He said,” or וַיְצַו, “and He commanded,” it was always preceded by [G-d] calling [to Moshe by name] (Toras Kohanim 1:2-3). [קְרִיאָה] is an expression of affection, the [same] expression employed by the ministering angels [when addressing each other].” This could have happened twice a day sometimes. So the question is, why here and now? Why, at the beginning of Sefer Vayikra does the Torah teach this to us? Why here?

    The commentators teach us that the simple answer is “the end is wedged in the beginning and the beginning in the end.” The beginning of Chumash Vayikra is a direct continuation from the end of Chumash Shemos. Parshas Pikudei, which we read last week, ended with a description of the construction of the Mishkan by Moshe on the eighth day of Milu’im. The Torah adds a description and detailed explanation about everything that occurred on that lofty day.

    In continuation from the festivities of the dedication of the Mishkan, Chumash Vayikra begins with this verse to say that the calling to Moshe was from the Tent of Meeting, G-d’s voice descended to between the Keruvim that were above the Aron, and to Moshe’s ears, and then Moshe would enter the Tent of Meeting and G-d would speak to him and command him what to transmit to the Jewish people.

    Now we understand why Vayikra begins with this “calling.” It is only now, after the conclusion of Shemos and the erection of the Mishkan, that there can be a proper “calling” worthy of the name. Only now, after all the Jewish people went through in the tumultuous first year in the desert, is there a specific place from which G-d can “call.” Only now, can G-d reveal to Moshe, in public view, the “affection,” the true love He has for him and this is by “calling” him from the Tent of Meeting, along with the command to enter the Tent of Meeting.

    Sounds simple, right? It’s a technical thing. Until now there wasn’t a place from which to call, and now there is! But if you read the final verses of Pikudei, this answer would surprise you. At the end of Pikudei, the Torah tells how the Cloud of Glory covered the Mishkan and the Shechina filled it so that Moshe could not enter. If so, there is a place from which the “calling” can come but where is Moshe supposed to go? G-d displays His endless love for Moshe but does not allow him to reciprocate. He does not provide him with a place to enter, so what’s going on here?

    A CALL IN THE DARKNESS

    In an electrifying and uplifting sicha, the Rebbe explains this and the eternal message we learn from it, particularly for the era we are in. There is revelation and there is concealment. There is love and there is the opposite of love. It is possible that often, what seems to us like distance, as concealment, as an absence of love, is actually a groundbreaking revelation of endless love. The cloud covering the Mishkan is indeed a form of concealment; it does indeed prevent Moshe from entering the Tent of Meeting to receive G-d’s message and love. However, at the same time, and for this very reason, the cloud is also what brings about the “calling of love and affection,” of “And G-d called,” because the absence is what brings the revelation, and the concealment intensifies the love.

    A fundamental principle in Chassidus teaches us that revelation after concealment is far loftier than a constant revelation. As the wisest of men said (Koheles 2:13), “The advantage of light over (or it can be read as “that comes from”) darkness,” the darkness highlights and reveals the preciousness of the light. Chassidus explains this in connection with the advantage that baalei teshuva have over tzaddikim as “distant that became close” is far “closer” than one who was always close. Light is nice, light is uplifting, but when darkness turns into light it is far more impressive and meaningful. It shows a deeper, more serious and more inner bond between the two elements. When the baal teshuva displays his true essence, that he is a Jew and cannot and will not be separated from G-dliness, this reveals the power of the essence of the G-dly soul far more than a tzaddik who never sinned.

    It is already 30 years since Chof-Zayin Adar, the great concealment that covers every scintilla of good, light and holiness. We, like Moshe, cannot go inside to hear and see the Rebbe. Many of us are in constant confusion, “Ad mosai?” When will we finally be able to enter, to hear and see, to unite with the Rebbe? When will we hear the “calling” of “Vayikra” – a calling of affection?

    That is precisely the message of this parsha. Vayikra comes to teach us not to despair and not to think, “If they were unsuccessful, will we be successful?!” “If the great Chassidim of the previous generation did not bring the Geula, will it be me and you who change the world?!”

    The answer is: yes, definitely!

    As in the famous answer of the Rebbe Rayatz in one of his sichos that it is known that before the light of day, the desire to sleep gets stronger, the desire to forget what is happening and just live life. But we, a wise and discerning generation, need to wake up, open our eyes and understand that this is the darkness before the light, the curtain before the revelation, the cloud before the hisgalus!

    G-d calls upon every one of us, within and despite the darkness of exile. He asks and demands of us that we remove the concealment and reveal the love here too, thirty years after Chof-Zayin Adar. G-d and the Rebbe continues to “call” personally, to each one of us, with an awesome demand (as the Rebbe Rayatz put it, as seen in the introduction to the HaYom Yom), “What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the birth-pangs of Moshiach, and to merit the complete redemption which will come through our righteous Moshiach?”

    TO CONCLUDE WITH A STORY

    We will end with an interesting Chassidic story that I recently heard. They say about the Skolye Rebbe, Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Rabinowitz, who was known to be very dear to the Rebbe, (I heard that Rabbi Chodakov told one of the Chassidim that the minute the Skolye Rebbe arrived, he should be brought directly to the Rebbe, with no waiting, even though the Skolye Rebbe was only 20 at the time!) that at his tisch at the third meal on Shabbos, he would choose someone and ask him to say a verse from the parsha. It made no difference which verse. Then, he would start with divrei Chassidus, mixed with Nigleh and Nistar, on that random verse.

    Word of this phenomenon spread around Boro Park and there were some who were bothered by this practice, as though the Admor was trying to attract Chassidim from other Chassidic courts by showing off his prodigious Torah abilities. One time, a Chassid showed up, wanting to test the Admor and hear what divrei Chassidus he would say on the verse this Chassid would choose. Fortunately for him, the Skolye Rebbe, as though with ruach ha’kodesh, pointed at him to say a verse.

    It wasn’t in parshas Vayikra but the Chassid chose the verse, “and G-d spoke to Moshe saying,” the simplest, most often repeated verse in the Torah, a verse on which there is no comment, in Nigleh or Nistar, on which the Admor could expand and explain. The Chassid thought he “got” him.

    The Admor thought a bit, closed his eyes, and then began a passionate discourse on how the Torah is eternal and G-d speaks with every person at every place and every time, and G-d’s addressing Himself to Moshe is actually Him addressing us and the time has already come for us to start listening, etc. This was one the of the talks that was engraved in the memories of all his Chassidim for years to come!

    Sometimes, it seems to us that they’re trying to make a laughing stock out of us. A long and bitter exile, inexplicable concealment. But what is actually happening is that we are being called to and spoken to … The time has come for us to listen!

    Good Shabbos!

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