Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parashat Vayikra- Kiddush HaShem


Vayikra el Moshe vayidabeir Hashem eilav meiohel moed leimor. Dabeir el b’nei Yisrael v’amarta aleihem...
And God called to Moshe and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying, “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them...

It’s been a difficult week for Jews in France and around the world.  The brutality of the tragedy that occurred in Toulouse shocked the Jewish community and the world.  We are beginning the month of Nisan, a month in which public mourning is forbidden.  Divrei Torah are substituted for eulogies.  There are changes to funeral services. Yet, this is also the month is which we celebrate Pesach, the ultimate, “They tried to kill us; we survived; let’s eat” holiday. It’s a theme that spreads throughout our celebrations, and perhaps connects to this week’s parasha.

Vayikra is the Levitical book.  It is filled with material for the Levi’im, and yet it is included in the Torah to be read publically to the entire community.  Questions of why God included Vayikra abound.  I believe the answer is in the name- Vayikra, and He Called.  The text is clear, God calls Moshe to speak with him, but the meaning is so much greater.  In speaking to Moshe, God speaks to all of us. We are told often that we are to be an Am Kadosh, a holy people and a community of priests.  As such we are also to be an Or LaGoyim, a light to the nations, but this is also rendered as Or HaGoyim, a light among the nations.  We are called upon as a community to shine, sometimes in joy, and sometimes in tragedy.

Nisan is also the month in which we observe Yom HaShoah  u’G’vurah, called in English, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The date is chosen for its connection to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but the Hebrew name and it’s placement in Nisan speak volumes.  Yom HaShoah- the Day of the Holocaust, u’G’vurah- and the heroism.  We must focus on our ability to overcome tragedy in our lives and emerge victorious, marching out of the depths of the sea, a holy people.

May the memory of the seven who murdered in France this past week be for a blessing, and may God comfort their families and friends among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.