Parshat Vayikra – G-d is Calling!
G-d is Calling!
The five books of Moses each have a specific name. The English names are not a direct translation of the Hebrew names. The English names are one word that summarizes the main thrust of the book. For example, the book of Genesis is the story about the beginning of the world and the beginning of the Jewish people. Exodus tells of the Jewish people’s exile and redemption from Egypt. The Hebrew names are usually the first or second word of the book. For example the first book is Bereishit (which means in the beginning) and happens to be the first word of the book. The second book is Shemot (lit. names) which is the first word as well.
Why this difference? I’m not sure.
This week we begin reading the book of Leviticus (the third book of the five). It is called Leviticus because it discusses the details of the Levites’ work in the Temple. It goes through the different rituals and procedures that the Levites were expected to perform. In Hebrew the book is called by its first word, which is Vayikra or and He called. G-d was calling Moses to explain all the laws that relate to the service of the Levites.
The very fact that Jewish tradition calls the books of Moses by these names is a lesson to each of us in our lives. It isn’t just by chance that that G-d is calling; it’s directed to us as well. We must heed the call and realize that there can be a very personal relationship if we allow it to happen. Too many times we see a name on the caller ID and choose to ignore it – this week our cell phone screens are lit up with G-d’s office number. Don’t send it directly to voice mail but stop for a moment and take the time to respond to His call. It is important.
See you in Shul,
Rabbi Mendy Hecht