Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26) The Torah’s Call To Grow

            In our life, we are called by many names, and we are called in many ways by many things. This week’s portion begins the book of Leviticus and has God calling to Moses. He is being called to the service of the Sanctuary. No doubt, those of you who will attend a Torah study this Shabbat will discuss what it means to be “called” by God or some cause. As I was looking at this passage, however, I began to see in it another glimpse into what many may be feeling, and I began to look at a different way of what a “call” could mean.

            Often, a call impels us to go out and do something. It is often outer directed. Much of the portions is a set of instruction on how to do the sacrifices. In a commentary on this portion, Rabbi Shoshonah Gelfand notes that the word for sacrifice in Hebrew has a three-letter root that means “to draw near”. (“The Woman’s Torah Commentary”. Jewish Lights. P. 187). As we get older and have the courage to reflect on where we have come from, we also are called to reflect on where we wish to go. Many people get stuck in a sort of status quo, using age as a rationale to stop growing. But just consider that a possible “call” from the portion is to draw near to our own soul and not be afraid to dream, plan and create a new self.

            We live in such a world of anxiety and fear. We are emerging from Covid and the state of the world around us is, at best, challenging. There is a real desire for some to “circle the wagons”, so to speak, and try and shut out the noise of the outside world. To a point, we may all do that at times. However, the world and life continue to move forward. Maybe Leviticus 1 is about listening to and responding to this “call” to shed what was and to not fear to consider what changes in our own self we need to make to best live in this new world. Rabbi Abraham Twerski in his “Living Each Week”, compares this chapter and this “call” to how some animals shed their outer skin as they grow. “This phenomenon has its counterpart in the nature of the human being. Sometimes the discomfort and distress one experiences is an indication that ne has reached a stage where additional growth is required and that one must eliminate those factors that impede one’s spiritual growth.” Twerski goes on to add that many who feel psychological or even physical discomfort may not be dealing with illness but “it may also be true that the discomfort is a sign of health rather than disease and that it indicates a need for growth rather than for treatment.” (p.200)

            So, this Shabbat, ask yourself how you may be being called, and if you are feeling uneasy with how you are living is really a call to shed what is and move to what can be.

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.