Torah Portion: Vayikra (He Called) Leviticus/Vayikra 1:1-5:26
Haftorah Reading Isaiah 43:21-44:23
This week we begin a new book of the Torah by studying the first portion of Vayikra. In the English Bible we know it by its Greek name of Leviticus, meaning the work of the priests. I want us to look at the opening word of our section and see what we can learn from the way G-d spoke to Moshe.
However, first a word about the holiday of Purim that begins Wednesday night at sundown. I hope each of you had an opportunity to read the book of Esther this week. I waited and waited and no one called me to tell me there are 10 chapters, not 4 in the book of Esther! Never miss a chance to correct the teacher.
One fact before I get to the book itself, in both the English and Hebrew canon there was much debate on whether or not to include this book in the Bible. The reason being, G-d’s name was never mentioned other than being alluded to at times. However, finally it was accepted and we have the benefit of reading it today.
It is a short story about a young Jewish girl named Esther and her uncle Mordecai. Esther became the wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus. In the kingdom a plot was hatched by one of the king’s advisers, Haman, to have all the Jews killed on a certain day. This became known to Mordecai, who in turn asked his niece to intercede with the king for the Jewish people. The most moving and relevant part of the story occurs in chapter 4:14 when Mordecai talked to Esther about the urgent need for her to plead with the king for the lives of the Jews.
In this verse Mordecai told Esther she may have become queen just for this purpose, to save the Jews. For us this should speak to our spirit. G-d has a plan for each of us, a plan that only we can fulfill. Don’t miss G-d’s best. It may be that you were created for such a time as this.
Now on to the Torah portion for the week. To begin, a word about the opening word, Vayikra or He Called. This word in Hebrew is a word used between friends. G-d called out to Moshe. He calls out to us. He speaks to us as to a friend and we can also call on Him. He is there to listen, to direct and to comfort us at every turn. He is present in our world and concerned about us and our lives.
As you have seen, this portion is about sacrifice, how to do them, when to do them, and what preparation are to be made. I want us to look at one particular sacrifice that is mentioned in chapter 2. My question is concerning this sacrifice. Here we read about the grain offering. In verse 2:1 we read in English, “When anyone will offer a meal offering to the L-rd.” The word translated to English as anyone is nefesh in Hebrew. Nefesh is actually the word for soul. Remember, this is a voluntary offering, not required but offered freely by a willing soul. We see this idea also in Psalms 51:14. G-d is looking for souls who are willing to come close to Him, to fellowship with Him. The next word in this verse also is important for us to examine. This word is takriv in Hebrew. It means to come close to, to offer. The Father wants our fellowship. He wants us to come close to Him. In fact, the word for sacrifice is the next word in our Hebrew sentence. It is Korban. So, we come close to G-d when we offer a korban. Both of these words, takriv and Korban, have exactly the same root letters.
Our next word in this sentence is mencha. This word has the meaning of a gift. It describes the korban we are bringing . It is a gift from a willing soul. Our last Hebrew word in this verse is solet. This word means fine flour. As we have seen, the other offerings required an animal sacrifice, the shedding of blood. What happened if a person was poor and could not bring an animal sacrifice, not even a dove? What would he do? He would bring flour or solet. G-d loves us all, no matter our social or economic status. These sacrifices were all seen in the light of an act of dedication and consecration to G-d. Our life, our all is given to Him, even if it is represented by a handful of flour, and that is the holiest thing we can give.
Yeshua is the way for us, our way back to the Father. Shaul tells us in Romans 12:1 what our gift should be to the Father. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to G-d which is our reasonable service. We are to be living sacrifices set apart for G-d. Only giving our all will please Him. So, these sacrifices in our portion covered everyone. As believers we all are also expected to be that sacrifice to G-d no matter if we are rich or poor, famous or not. As G-d’s children we all are to please Him by our lives, by our service to Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 states it clearly.
May all of us dedicate every day to G-d and may our lives be spent for Him. There is no higher calling. We were created for such a time as this.