Enthusiasm and Effort Lead to Holiness

In the verse that states, “Vayikra [And He called] to Moses” (Leviticus 1:1), the word vayikra is written with a small aleph. For what reason is it written like this?

The Zohar teaches that when a man damages the holiness of the brit, he distances himself from G-d (Zohar III:72b). Incapable at that point from getting closer to the abode of His residence (Eruvin 19a), he stays outside the camp in which the Shechinah resides. To correct this sin and return to the camp, he must thoroughly purify his thoughts and arm himself with the authentic devotion of a person who offers himself as a sacrifice (Leviticus 1:2), ready without reserve to give his life in order to be entirely consecrated to G-d.

The reason for this is that by wasting his seed, he has, so to speak, offered a sacrifice to the kelipah [literally, the “husk” that comes to envelop holiness]. To regain his integrity, he must now extract from this kelipah what it took from him, a process suggested by the verse: “He devoured wealth, but will disgorge it” (Job 20:15). This enables a person to recreate himself.

We find this idea alluded to in the word vayikra. Without the aleph, it becomes vayikar, a word that evokes the impurity we are speaking of (see Numbers 23:4). Nevertheless, the presence of the aleph rectifies the situation. How does this occur? When we divide the word vayikra in two, we obtain vayi kra, and the numerical value of the word kra (by adding one for the word itself) is the same as that of kirav (combat). This means that by waging war against the kelipah, we force it to return what it swallowed, and thus we rectify the situation. The initials of the aforementioned verse in Job are heth, beit, and vav, which together have the same numerical value as the word vayi. This indicates that if we adopt the behavior evoked by the verse in Job, we place ourselves under the sign of combat (kirav), and therefore we come closer (karov) to G-d, holiness, and purity.

“A Man that Dies in a Tent” – The Tent of Torah Study

It is written, “And He called to Moses, and the L-RD spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting” (Leviticus 1:1). The “Tent” here alludes to the Torah, for concerning Jacob it is stated that he dwelled “in tents” (Genesis 25:27), meaning the tents of Shem and Ever (Bereshith Rabba 63:10). A tent represents the Torah, and the Gemara teaches that a man should “kill” himself in study (Berachot 63b), according to the verse: “a man that dies in a tent” (Numbers 19:14). Indeed, he should invest all his energies into Torah study (Torah Kohanim 26:3), and we know that this implies, among other things, studying while standing (as many people in fact do). The word moed (“[Tent of] Meeting”) is composed of the same letters as omed (“standing”), which can also be considered as alluding to a shtender (the stand on which books are placed during study), also called amud (composed of the same letters).

Concerning this subject, it is written that the Torah’s honor has disappeared since the death of Rabban Gamliel (Sotah 49a). Up to that time, people studied while standing, which was an honor for the Torah because people would thus be bowing towards it. This honor disappeared when that custom was abandoned. In Hebrew the phrase batel kvod haTorah (“the honor of the Torah has disappeared”) has the same numerical value, according to certain a method of calculation (minyan katan im hakolel) as the phrase shelo lamdu me’umad (“they did not learn standing”).

“Our Lips will Substitute for Bulls”

It is written, “When a man mikem [of you] brings an offering” (Leviticus 1:2). The word mikem has a numerical value of 100, alluding to the 100 blessings that a person should say each day (Menachot 43b). In fact since the Temple has been destroyed, this is what remains for us in our bitter exile, and it is in this manner that we offer our sacrifices to G-d (refer to the writings of Rav Lev Simcha of Ger on this topic).

This actually constitutes a way for a person to get closer to G-d, for even if our eyes no longer witness the miracles that once occurred in the Temple (Perkei Avoth 5:5), and although there are no longer Priests and Levites to carry out the Temple service, the fact remains that we perform Hashem’s will by reciting these blessings, which is a way of getting closer to Him. The era that we live in also has a positive aspect to it, insofar as we are obligated in invest great effort into performing mitzvot and studying Torah, which is extremely important in G-d’s eyes.


Humility As Sacrifice
Book of Vayikra Index
Humility Leads to Growth in the Service of G d


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