VaYikra – Lev. 1:1-5:26 (March 28/29)​

As the Torah Turns

Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah

 VaYikra – Lev. 1:1-5:26 (March 28/29)

D’var Torah — A Word of Torah This week we begin the book of Leviticus – VaYikra – Lev. 1:1-5:26.  Rabbi Shai Held writes: “Around this time each year, the eyes of many Jews begin to glaze over. The book of Leviticus seems so utterly foreign, the rituals and practices it describes so alien, the religious vision underlying them so obscure, that connecting to it seems impossible. And yet if we dig a little deeper, we find a great deal about Leviticus that can speak powerfully to modern sensibilities and yearnings…” To encourage us to dig deeper, Rabbi Held focuses on the Creation story of Genesis 1: “How does God bring about a habitable world? By dividing, separating, and ordering—and then bringing forth life. God “separates” (vayavdeil) light from darkness (Genesis 1:3); God separates the waters above the firmament from the waters below it (1:7); God distinguishes sea from dry land (1:9-10); God places lights in the firmament to separate day from night and light from darkness (1:14, 18); God distinguishes Shabbat from other days and declares it holy (vayekadeish) (2:3)… ” Genesis 1 and Leviticus are closely intertwined, since the project of dividing and separating is crucial to each… As God ordered the world in God’s work of Creation, so too, through the ritual life detailed in Leviticus, we participate in ordering the world and thus in sustaining it.  Rabbi Held goes on to teach: “The tabernacle (mishkan) is nothing if not a tightly structured, highly ordered space. Who may enter where, at what time, and in what garb—all is tightly regulated. The profane must never spill over into and thus violate the sacred. The sacrifices are carefully choreographed and presented “just right.” In a chaotic,terrifying world, one place, at least, is governed by order and structure…” Friends, as we turn our Torah scroll to the book of Leviticus in this challenging time of fear and chaos, may we be able to bring something of the order and holiness of the sacred space of the tabernacle – mishkan (God’s dwelling place) – into our own dwelling places, and there find comfort and support.

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