Vayikra (Leviticus 1: 1-5:26) Answering The Call To Our Soul

Night-Shining Clouds are Getting Brighter
Night-Shining Clouds are Getting Brighter by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

       Vayikra welcomes us to the Book of Leviticus. This is, as many of you know, a book largely of law and instructions aimed at the priesthood. Indeed, this portion looks a the laws associated with bringing offerings to the sanctuary. There are details for the variety of offerings that may be brought, who brings them etc. On the surface, this portion may seem very forthright and matter of fact. Yet, if we step back and allow the text to speak to us, we may discover issues that speak to us at this stage of life.

       Take for example the “call” that begins the portion. There is much literature now on how we engage life as we age. There is this tension between existing and living. Judaism, as we have discussed, “calls” each of us to live life, the embrace it in its fullest and not fear to grow and learn and reach for the new. Yes, it may get harder as we age for a wide variety of reasons, each of us is being “called” every day to give thanks for life and to live it. Part of this may be dranw from the word used int he text for offering or, in some texts, sacrifice. The Hebrew is korbon, kuf, bet, nun is the root and it also have the meaning of drawing near. 

      For many of us, as we get older, we draw near to spiritual issues, concerns and desires. We often have enough material goods to satisfy our basic, and even beyond basic needs. But what of the issues of meaning and purpose? We come to a place in life that these spiritual questions become increasingly meaningful. The portion can give us an insight into this by looking at the menu of offerings/sacrifices that are discussed. We do not have this system in place, obviously. But, step back and see what these offerings can mean. They provide a type of spiritual practice, and while they usually spoke to the priestly class, we can, without too much difficulty, see in them a call to create our own spiritual  practice. What that practice is will be determined by each individual. It may involve, prayer, Mitzvot, mediation or any combination oif these and other practices that place us within a context that allows us to relate to that which is beyond our own self. 

        It is never too late to begin such a practice. Some people use prayer, some mantras, some nature and some create their own. It is an offering of our own soul, daily, that allows us to focus, be grounded and centered. It allows us to remember the aspect of gratitude for being alive, and to celebrate that reality, for as we age we become all too aware of life’s fragility and temporal nature. So this portion invites us to be open to responding to the “call” of the sacred, that which links us to the power and reality that we are part of a greater whole, a link in a chain of tradition that binds generation to generation.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Richard F Address

Be the first to comment

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.