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Parashat Vayikra - 5777

Dear friends,

This Shabbat we begin the reading of the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, also known as Leviticus.

Now that the Tabernacle has been constructed and all its vessels placed in their assigned spaces, G-d's communications to Moses take place in the sanctuary. This Parasha begins with these words:

"Vayikra el Moshe, vaydaber Adonay elav, meohel moed lemor" - "And the L-rd called unto Moses, and spoke to him out of the tent of meeting saying" (Leviticus 1:1)

The obvious question is - why does this book begin with the words "the L-rd called unto Moses"? Normally, the chapters begin with the words, "G-d spoke to Moses saying". What is the meaning of 'Vayikra', 'and he called'?

The great commentator Rashi explains that every time G-d communicated with Moses, whether it was represented by the expression וַיְדַבֵּר (and He spoke), or וַיֹּאמֶר (and He said), or וַיְצַו (and He commanded), it was always preceded by G-d calling to Moses by name. Calling by name is an expression of affection. This is an important aspect in the idea of being called upon affectionately by G-d. Moses is called upon by name, because what he is doing is a calling that comes from within. Once he had accepted G-d's mission to lead the Israelites and be their teacher, he fulfills his mission out of love and not for the benefits, honor and power that it may bring him.

Are we happy with what we do? Do we find satisfaction and fulfillment in our endeavors? You may have seen the recent World Happiness Report for 2017, where Norway came in first place followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. America came in 14th place and Israel took 11th place. The main factors found to support happiness were caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.

America, the land of freedom and opportunity, should come out first in the World Happiness Report. But we are not there. It would seem that there is still much work to be done by many of us, to be able to find satisfaction and happiness in what we do.

Caring and sharing seem to be most important values in giving us happiness and satisfaction in our respective calling in this world.

The first word of this Parasha emphasizes the importance of caring. Just like G-d shows affection to Moses, Moses will succeed by showing affection and caring to his people.

'Vayikra' - 'He called' - an expression of affection.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram