This Week’s Torah Portion | March 13 – March 19, 2016 – 3 Adar II – 9 Adar II, 5776

VaYikra (The Lord Called) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

image

THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
Vayikra (ויקרא | And he called)
Torah: Leviticus 1:1-5:26
Haftarah: Isaiah 43:21-44:23
Gospel: Mark 7:1-30

  • Special readings for Shabbat Zachor are applicable this Shabbat.
    Shabbat Zachor (זכור | Remember)
  • Maftir: Deuteronomy 25:17-19
  • Haftarah: 1 Samuel 15:1-34

This Week’s Torah Portion | March 13 – March 19, 2016 – 3 Adar II – 9 Adar II, 5776

Torah Portion for March 13-19, 2016

THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The readings for this week March 13-19, 2016 are called VaYikra—“And He Called…”

TORAH: Exodus Leviticus 1:1—6:7

Shabbat Zakhor—Remember! (What Amalek did to You)

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

HAFTARAH: I Samuel 15:2-34

This week’s reading brings us into the Book of Leviticus. This name comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and means “relating to the Levites.” However, the Hebrew name VaYikra is drawn from the first word in the book and refers to the LORD “calling” to Moses from the Tent of Meeting to give him instructions. He not only desires to dwell among us—He longs to speak and commune with us. Some 50 times in this book it is written that God “spoke” to Moses. The book’s emphasis is holiness—and regards primarily the services of worship at the Tabernacle—the way that the priestly intercessors or ‘go-betweens’ could accomplish their work on behalf of the people.

This week’s portion pertains to five specific types of offerings (divided generally by chapters):

These sacrifices were for the common people as a whole. They deal with voluntary private sacrifices, for expression of gratitude, prayer, spiritual communion or desire for expiation, on the part of the individual. The mishkan (dwelling place of God’s presence), had been prepared by the sacrifice of all the people, men women, young and old—and these sacrifices are on their behald, not just on behalf of the priests.

  1. Burnt Offerings:

From cattle herd (3), sheep (10), birds, turtledoves or young pigeons (14). A “Burnt Offering” carried the idea of “submission of the worshipper to the will of God in its most perfect form, as the entire animal was placed upon the Altar to be burnt. The Hebrew word ohlah signifies “that which ascends”, symbolizing the ascent or rising of the soul in worship. “By making the offering ascend to heaven, the one who offers it expresses his desire and intention to ascend himself to Heaven; i.e. to devote himself entirely to God and place his life in God’s service.” (The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed: The Soncino Press, 1960. Here and in all subsequent quotations).

  1. Grain Offerings:

Offerings of Flour, Wheat or Barley prepared with oil and frankincense. “When anyone (‘a soul’) offers a grain offering…” The very poor who could not afford an animal, could offer a “meal offering.” The Hebrew is mincha—here referring to a sacrifice not involving slaughter of an animal. The Meal and oil “are not natural products, but are obtained as the result of toil. The meal-offering typified the consecration of man’s work to the service of God” (Ibid.). (2:13) “Every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking in your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Salt acts as a preservative, preventing deterioration and putrefaction (leaven and honey can produce it). Salt typifies “that which is abiding.” On Friday evenings in Jewish households, salt is sprinkled on the bread as thanks is offered up for God’s provision.

  1. Peace Offerings:

Zevach shelamim—sacrifices ‘made in fulfillment of a vow (zevach), or in gratitude for benefits received or expected. It would thus be an occasion when man seeks and obtains peace with his Creator. In the peace-offering there was inherent a feeling of joyousness, either in celebrating a happy occasion in the people’s life, or some important event in connection with a family or individual.” Taken from the cattle herd (1), the flock (6) (a lamb (7) or goat (12).

  1. Sin Offerings:

Sin (het): For humankind, made in God’s image “to miss the mark” of set by His righteousness. All are under sin, even when as here, he or she did it in ignorance: the Anointed Priests (3); the congregation as a whole (13), civil rulers of the people (22), individuals from among the common people (27). Blood was required to make atonement for sin and to provide forgiveness.

5-6:7 Guilt Offerings:

Special cases for sin offerings—coming into contact with impurity (5:2-3); omitting to fulfil a vow (5:4): “trespass”—unintentionally appropriating for one’s own use a ‘holy thing’ from the Sanctuary. Lastly, Chapter 6 deals with sins or trespass against God and against one’s neighbor and the offering required for restitution, atonement and forgiveness. In all of these it is the Priest (the cohen) who “shall make atonement…before the LORD (6:7).

SHABBAT ZAKHOR

On the Sabbath before Purim, there is an additional Torah portion Deuteronomy 25:17-19 relating to the eternal enmity of YHVH and His people against Amalek. The usual Haftarah (In this case Isaiah 43:21—44:23) is replaced with the passage from I Samuel in which Saul is commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites, but disobeys and spares Agag. In the Purim story, as recounted in the Book of Esther, Haman was a descendant of Agag.

  • Deuteronomy 25:17-19. “REMEMBER WHAT AMALEK DID TO YOU…on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. Therefore when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.”

  • I Samuel 15:2–34

*(2) “Thus says YHVH of Armies, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt.”

*(22-23) “Has YHVH as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of YHVH? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as witchcraft-sin, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry!”

*(29) “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret” (ESV).

*(32-33) “Then said Samuel, ‘Bring you hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.’ And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, ‘Surely the bitterness of death is past.’ And Samuel said, ‘As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal” (KJV).

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week March 20-26, 2016 are called : Tsav–“Command!”:

TORAH: Leviticus 6:8—8:36

HAFTARAH: Jeremiah 7:21—8:3; 9:23-24

PURIM ( March 24; in Jerusalem, March 25):

Exodus 17:8-16; Scroll (Book) of Esther

In A Nutshell

The portion, VaYikra (The Lord Called), deals with rules of sacrificing and the priests serving in the tabernacle. Some offerings are optional; some are mandatory. Some of the offerings are burnt to ashes on the altar, and some remain for the priests and the giver of the offering.

The rules of offerings speak of a “burnt offering” that a person brings voluntarily from the cattle, flock, and poultry. There is also a “gift offering,” which a person brings voluntarily from the flora. Also, there is the “peace offering,” which is an offering that a person brings from the cattle, sheep, and goats. The “sin offering” is an offering brought by one who sinned by mistake. That person makes an offering to atone for the sin.

Commentary

The portion, VaYikra (The Lord Called), teaches us about the work of the offerings, which are also the main topic in the Talmud. We learn all the works from the works of the Temple.

People are nearing the purpose of creation and Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator, to the human level, a life in a totally blissful world, and experiencing all the worlds and the sensation of nature as complete and eternal, as it was prepared for us. That nearing is called Korban (offering/sacrifice) from the word Karov (near).

We are approaching it step by step by correcting our nature. There are 613 desires in us, which we must correct one at a time, each desire with all of its parts. Our desires divide into four levels: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. The work of the offerings teaches us how to sacrifice and correct them so they are in bestowal and love. The rule in our work is to correct our nature and achieve the state, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.”[1] By that, we become similar to the Creator and achieve Dvekut with Him.

The correction of the egoistic desire from receiving for myself into bestowal upon others is called an “offering” that a person offers. The offering may come from several sources. It may be from the still, as it is written, “On all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Leviticus, 2:13), or water or oil. It can also be from the vegetative or processed plants, such as the showbread. From the animate, only a certain kind is offered. The priests’ and the Levites’ daily work in the Temple is to sacrifice the flock and the cattle.

There are offerings that one must make on a daily basis, similar to our progress from day to day according to the plan of creation, on a predetermined pace. When we do not follow suit, we suffer a thrust from behind, from the negative forces.

The offerings we cannot make—namely the desires we cannot correct into aiming to bestow upon others—become negative forces that manifest as problems that push us from behind through suffering. These desires accumulate until they break out as crises, similar to the comprehensive crisis we are currently experiencing.

The crisis is not a negative state, but a result of neglect. It is happening because we are so engrossed in materialism instead of rising above it, because we are so obstinate and refuse to listen to the guidance of Kabbalists.

In fact, the crisis is a point of new birth. It points to our inability to live according to the old paradigm. Our perspective on life and the attitude toward values in our lives break and fall apart, as it manifests in education, family relations, and so forth.

The order of the work of the offerings is very important because it explains how we advance in life. If we follow this order, our lives will flow in order too.

The general nature is built so that if each moment we correct more and more pieces of the egoism into altruism and love of others, into connection with humanity, with nature, we draw nearer to the Creator—the only force that exists in reality. In this way we are in balance with it, and there is no better state for us than that. After all, in that state we do not need anything and reside in a world of utter bliss.

VaYikra details the order of correction of all 613 broken, egoistic desires into connection with others, and through it, connection with the Creator. It is written about it, “From the Love of man to the love of God.”[2] However, before we connect with others, we must be properly built within. We must prepare ourselves for it internally, as well as externally.

Assume that a person must be “married,” meaning have a deficiency. A woman is a deficiency next to the man, a deficiency adapted to the ability to correct it. The feminine part of a person is as a deficiency, the left side, while the masculine part is the right side, which complements. In a state of collaborative work, a person is considered “married.” The man—which is higher than the woman and wants to advance and correct the deficiency—makes an offering. The offering is also for the feminine part in the person. The same applies to the rest of the people.

The work of the offerings is the work in the Temple, the common Kli of the world where a person expresses one’s attitude toward the Creator. There are many details to this work: how to slaughter, burn, and how to discern all the parts in the offerings.

There is a part in us that enjoys, and a part that is as “smoke.” The word “smoke” is an acronym for Olam, Shana, Nefesh (ASHAN [smoke]) by which a person transcends the limitations of our world, thus advancing toward the purpose of creation.

When one begins to connect and approach the Creator through the offerings, one becomes more suitable for the Creator. Each time, one of the 613 desires becomes more suitable for the Creator. This way a person begins to feel that the system within is becoming more similar to that of the Creator. Then the person begins to understand Him since one contains a partial sample of Him, which gradually expands. The more one’s desires close in on a similar structure to Godliness, the more the Creator “clothes” in the person. Thus one becomes more similar to the Creator.

Through one’s internal system, where there is already a part of the Creator, a person begins to understand and know Him. Such a person can picture and imagine that system, thoughts, desires, and approach of the Creator toward him or her. Thus one can increasingly understand one’s attitude toward the Creator. The model that one builds within allows one to be in mutual connection with the Creator, and this is how a person becomes man (Adam).

From the beginning of creation through its end we undergo a process by which we must correct ourselves and rise from our world to the world of Ein Sof (infinity). We must do it internally, in our inner structure, so that each time we become increasingly similar to the upper force. This is the work that this portion deals with.

The Creator is inviting us to this work hoping that humanity will respond. The whole work is of the part of us called “Israel,” and of which it was written, “And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6). The priests are the ones who manage the work at the Temple, bringing the rest of the nation to this work so the whole nation may able to correct itself.

All of Israel are regarded as priests in relation to the rest of the world. VaYikra (The Lord Called) is first and foremost a call to Israel because Israel are obliged to teach the rest of humanity how to approach the Creator. It was written about it, “they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah, 31:33), and “for My house shall be called ‘a house of prayer’ to all the nations” (Isaiah, 56:7), once it is built.

This is why VaYikra is a call to the entire nation of Israel to correct itself as quickly as possible, thus also correcting the global crisis, the world’s problems, and abolishing anti-Semitism. Then everyone will truly be as one group, a single nation.

Questions and Answers

We sacrifice to the Creator, but the sacrifice is actually nearing between people. What is the connection between bringing people closer and drawing closer to the Creator?

There is an act here, and there is the intention. To perform correction we must draw closer to others. We cannot draw closer to others unless we have the intention to draw closer, and unless the common force of bestowal that exists in the world, namely the Creator, appears between us. Through mutual nearing, we build an opportunity, a place, a space of mutual desire where the mutual force of bestowal appears, meaning the force of love, which does not exist in our world. That force does not exist in our qualities unless we exert to make it, to make room for it. The place where the force of bestowal appears is called “dweller” or “the revelation of Divinity.” It requires three conditions in order to exist: you, me, and the Creator.

What is the order between them? It seems reasonable to say, “Give me this type of Temple and I will sacrifice my cow there.

It is all within us, the cow too.

It follows that we must approach the Creator so He may give us the strength to love others. So one does not reach the Creator through others, but from the Creator to others because the problems are between us and not with the Creator?

True, there is no other way. We begin from hating each other; we have no desire whatsoever to draw near. Only through troubles and problems, when we ask how and why, what is the meaning of life, what is happening in the world, do we understand that we must correct our nature and start looking for a solution. Our correction is from reception to bestowal, from hate to love, from understanding that the hatred is destroying the world and our lives.

Today the whole world is dealing with correcting human nature because it ruins everything, including this planet. Many scientists are warning about these problems, which are already causing our collapse.

The problem is that we cannot restrain human nature. We are marching as sheep to the slaughter, unable to stop ourselves. Baal HaSulam wrote that the angel of death comes with a drop of poison on the tip of his sword, and you open your mouth to it because there is a last bit of pleasure on it, and you die. You cannot see past yourself, and even if you do, you simply must have this drop.[3]Go to the craftsman who made me, Just so, we are advancing blindly, following our nature into wars and troubles, ruining everything along the way because it is all done without higher guidance.

We need the upper force. This need arises from the sensation of troubles and problems that are already appearing in the world, but it should come with an explanation. There must be a system that provides information that we, the children of Israel, must pass on to the rest of the world. This is the meaning of being a kingdom of priests. The priests are those who teach the people, as it is written, “And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19:6).

We must make the reason for the crisis known, as well as the means for correcting human nature, in order to bring the whole of humanity to balance with nature, or we will not survive.

Although the conditions for it have all been prepared, we have to do our share in this work. This is why we are witnessing an increase in global anti-Semitism, which will only increase unless we make the method of correction and its use known in due time, and promote its implementation the world over.

It is therefore clear that we ourselves must be connected to the Creator, study, and demand the revelation of the Creator in order to allow ourselves to advance. All we need is the sense of lack and our drive toward it, since the moment we need His strength, we will ask and receive it.

What does it mean that we sacrifice a cow, a sheep, or a goat?

The Book of Zohar explains that these are not cows, sheep, or any other kosher animal. Rather, it is a person who needs to correct, to discern the animal part within, the speaking part, which is the priest, Levite, and Israel. A person offers and sacrifices part of the animate, which is all the animate within us. Actually, it concerns the desires within us, which divide into still, vegetative, animate, and human.

Why is it so difficult to offer the sacrifice?

A person cannot perform correction without first knowing what to do, without internally distinguishing good from bad. Currently, we do not know what to correct. You might say, “Yes, sometimes I lie,” but how can you tell that this is what you must correct? Anyone can say that, at least to oneself. However, even then it is not a sincere confession. So how will you know what is stopping you from approaching the goal? For this, we need the revelation of the Creator, the light that reforms to illuminate for us the desires we can sacrifice.

From The Zohar: One Who Did Not Marry a Woman Is Flawed

“When any man of you brings an offering” means excluding one who did not marry a wife, since his offering is not an offering and there are no blessings in him, neither above nor below. This means that when it writes, “When any man of you brings an offering,” and he is different, not a human and not included in man. Divinity is not over him because he is flawed and called “maimed,” and one who is maimed is removed from everything, all the more so from the altar, from offering sacrifices.

Zohar for All, VaYikrah (The Lord Called), item 63

If one knows and feels that one is flawed, namely still has an egoistic intention, how can one sacrifice it? How can one move closer to the Creator?

Such a person must first be whole.

Ask most people and they will tell you, “I’m fine with the Creator; I get along with Him. How do they know? Do they feel this way? Is this how the Creator is depicted for them?

They feel so because the Creator is hidden from them, so they are sure they are OK with Him.

If the person is OK with the Creator, why is He hidden?

We do not ask ourselves this question. We say, “I pay my taxes, I’m friendly to my neighbors, I even put the garbage in the right bins. I’m just fine.”

How do you explain to people that there is a connection, that we must discover the quality of bestowal within us, that this is the Creator? How do you explain that VaYikra means that the Creator is calling us to approach something very different?

We determine our own situation, the scale, according to the upper force, which is benevolent, whole, in which there is no hate but only love. We measure in comparison with it how similar or different we are from it, from the Unique one from whom everything was created and to whom everything returns. First we must see and feel how different or similar we are to Him. We must also engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah, or we will have no chance of nearing Him.

This is how everyone thinks, which is why it is impossible to turn to anyone in this manner. We need to measure people compared to the Creator, and then it will be possible to see how obligated we are, and how the Creator has made us so. We could say, “Go to the craftsman who made me,”[4] since He has made me this way, and only through bringing the upper light will anything be resolved.

Our qualities have been designed since childhood by our parents, education, the environment, the Creator, genes, grandparents, and previous generations. Then there are our own additions. Over that part which we add to ourselves, which we could avoid adding, too, or add negative traits to ourselves, over that part we have choice and can say, “This I need to correct.” This is the initial scrutiny. It is a very special work, which is why we do not immediately arrive at the offerings.

During all the previous portions we advance toward this work, discovering the Creator—the upper force—at the level we are in through the quality of Moses in us. We measure ourselves compared to them, and only then can we correct our qualities and know how many of them we should fix, and how. After all, we have many qualities that need no correction because they are corrected by themselves, as they are not ours.

[1]Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.
[2] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Love of God and the Love of Man,” p 482.
[3] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot (Shining and Welcoming Face),” p 149.
[4] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Taanit, p. 20b.