Vayikra ~ Aish Kodesh 03/10/2011
March 10, 2011, Aish Kodesh Parsha Vayikra
Weâre trying to connect the parsha with Purim. If you look at the end of Shemote at parsha Pikudei there are several things that set the scene for Vayikra. This is where six year olds start. I would start with the stories. The world is full of people getting shot down for trying to be free and we are horrified by rulers who kill their own people. Pharaoh was willing to sacrifice his son to uphold his idealized version of himself. The whole world is saying Khadafy youâve lost, but he canât let go. We hold on to our world, expectations, habits, goals and sometimes they become very destructive, and then we call them a hard heart, which is Torah for addiction. Purim means lots. So we throw lots. Where else do we throw lots? Jonah, which is read on Yom Kippurim, which means a day like Purim. We also throw lots on Yom Kippur for the goats. We take a goat at the Judean hills, which are totally barren, and we push it backwards over a cliff with a rock tied to its head. We are not allowed to torture an animal. Rabbi Nassi, the redactor of the Mishna, pushed a sheep forward and said itâs your job to be a Korbon, and he got 26 years of stomach pain. He was a very wealthy person and his maid was about to squish a spider and he saved the spider, and then his stomach pains stopped.
Weâre a people constantly seeking G-d's Oneness. Make up something that connects them.
Student: A tension between G*d being intimately involved in my life and bad things happen.
Student: Not to tempt G*d by doing something dangerous.
Rabbi: Haman is everybody who ever scapegoated a Jew.
Student: Looking to others to find answers.
Rabbi: They call Hitler the Amalakite. In all the demonstrations going on across the world, all you have to say is âthatâs a Jewâ and theyâll get killed. Jonah said Iâm the one whoâs causing the storm, throw the goat over the cliff, Hamanâs going to kill all the Jews, and itâs all scapegoating. One person is being sacrificed for the benefit of the others.
The word GARREL is the name for PUR in the stories of Yom Kippur, which means fate. In two of the stories itâs a way for HaShem to be involved in picking something. Vayikra means âhe called,â literally âhe will call,â but the vov turns the future into the past. The VOV that turns everything upside down. He will call turns into he called. It has within it KAR, which means cold or to happen. Life is full of cold random happenings and itâs a matter of fate or luck what happens to you.
Tonight I saw a wonderful story of a man named Carlos from Boulder. He showed a beautiful picture this key from 1492 when his family left Toledo, Spain. The 500 year anniversary. The connections that Sephardi Jews feel towards Spain even today. So his family decided to celebrate 500 years from the inquisition. Nobody from the family has been back to Spain in 500 years. They go back to Toledo. They kept the tradition of what street they lived on. They go back to the street, the first house they go up to they explain to the person who owns the house, we have a key, they used a key and it worked. They had kept the ancient door as a memento. It didnât even surprise him. The goings and leavings of the Jewish people.
Student: where I grew up nobody said the country they came from. It was âthe old country.â
Rabbi: for this family, life was not a random happening. They had great rabbis for 500 years. They moved from turkey to Syria and finally to New Mexico. Every one of us has a purpose and itâs called the calling. Moshe got the Torah, he went on HaShemâs mission, but he never felt called by G*d until this parsha. Itâs so powerful because it has the word random happening and cold. But thereâs a magic letter thatâs added to it, the small aleph at the end of Vayikra. Thereâs also one in the Megillah, which is part of several small letters that spell out the year 1946 when they hanged ten Nazis like Hamanâs ten sons and the last one was Julius Rosenberg. His last words were today is Purim 1946. If you think thereâs random happenings or thereâs a calling, beshert- thereâs another reappearance of the verb. By Bilaam, G*d happened upon Bilaam. For a Jew, callings are important. Of all the things that happened to Moshe, he never heard Him calling. Before it wasnât called a calling. The power is calling with a small aleph.
Letâs read the end of the last parsha.
âHe placed the Laver between the Tent of Meetingâ¦.â
Rabbi: Wash or die. The laver was made out of the mirrors. Itâs the largest vessel in the mishkan and itâs the one Moshe didnât want to make. Moshe is teaching us you can have an addiction to sexuality and vanity or opposite, being a monk. You donât want to be with your wife, you donât want to have money, you donât want to have any of the corruptions of this world. Moshe is the lawgiver, DIN. G*d tried to create the world with law only and nothing happened. Moshe comes down from Mt. Sinai and sees nothing has happened. Why not?
Student: He was not giving them an opportunity to do for themselves. He was feeding it all to them and they became dependent.
Rabbi: We learn about co-dependence in relationships and families. G*d says I want a good partnership and to prove it Iâm willing to take my name out of the Megillah of Esther. Megillah means to reveal the I Will Hide. G*d says I will surely hide myself in the world. G*d takes His name out of the book for good partnership. This is a team affair. If you want to do your own thing be my guest, but this is about teamwork. Whatâs the symbol of teamwork in the Torah? The half shekel and the cherubim. If thereâs good teamwork theyâre hugging each other and if thereâs bad teamwork theyâre back to back. Otherwise I can use angels, who have no choice. I gave you choice so you could choose to be closer to Me or not. The face of evil is not collaborative. You shoot your own people, you kill your wife, Shaul tried to kill David, who was the only person who could soothe him from his depression. Self-destructive. When you sign up to be a Jew you sign up to be a partner of HaShem. To bring Meshiach we have to bring peace, SHALAME. Moshe asked for what will I be remembered and known, and Aish Kodesh points out he will be known for collecting the coins because for a leader to accomplish things where heâs strong is nice, but Moshe was not strong in money. He earned the title Moshe the lawmaker. You earn a name through teshuva, you keep at it.
Instead of blaming other people, he worked on himself. Weâre proud of that and heâs proud of us when we do the same thing. Everybody can always see whatâs going on in someone else. Yitro told him, âItâs bad for you, itâs bad for them.â Anything can be an addiction. Weâre looking for balance.
They ALL had to wash. All is a big word. The whole team was there: Moshe, Aaron, Aaronâs sons. Moshe does a spreadsheet to account for all the contributions. The mirrors are a key moment because they women didnât use them for cosmetics. (Fugitive Pieces by Ann Michaels. Most of its poetry, about a Jewish boy who was hiding in a crawl space and saw his whole family killed and he spends the rest of his life recovering.) The Nazis and the Egyptians didnât want Jews to have babies. The men are exhausted, hopeless, they feel that G*d is sleeping. Eli Weisel says âWhere are You?â This is the most amazing thing about being a Jew. All the ups come after moments of extreme abandonment. Esther says My G*d My G*d why have You abandoned me? Itâs the loneliest place in the world. G*d is paying attention when weâre paying attention because G*d is mirroring us. The women would go out in the field and say something very simpleâit never made sense until this yearâwhoâs better looking, me or you? To their husband. The idea was to start playing, have some fun. Besides men donât care how they look anyway. Psychodrama is the same drama as the women understood.
When the whole team is sitting there, every morning in the temple the kohanim would wash together, we can play, we can bring simcha to a moment thatâs hopeless. Letâs look in the mirror. Iâm in your mouth, youâre in my mouth. The world is a mirror. What do you see when you look in the mirror. Thatâs the deepest deepest Torah.
Moshe when he looks in the mirrors he is reminded that his perception is distorted. He is biased by his own prejudices. We live in a country where when youâre not productive they throw you in the trash, and they call it a nursing home. Itâs a big thing when you see Ellis lugging that big cello around and then playing Bach by memory. We lose our youth! This is why we go to the nursing homes. Most Jews miss this Gemora. You look at the glass and you look at the wine (the slogan of Purim is the wine goes in and the secrets go out. Both wine and secret have the same value, seventy. Achashveros put 70 up on the wall to remind the Jews that they were supposed to return after 70 years. The Pope also dresses like the high priest. The first pope, Pope Urban, really laid into the Jews. Peter built the church in Rome and then went back and became an orthodox Jew. He wrote: the soul of every living then praises You- He and James wanted to keep the mitzvote, so when Paul abrogated all the mitzvote, Peter went back to become an orthodox Jew.
Achashveros says this party is to celebrate that G*d is dead and heâll never rescue you. The irony is that his son by Esther rebuilt the Temple. (Herod remodeled the second Temple.) Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemya) were instrumental in rebuilding the Temple and moving people back from Babylonia.
We have this low, low moment when weâre going to a Death-of-G*d party. The people feel bereft. Before Har Sinai was 210 years of brutal slavery. Before the second giving of the Torah which was the tablets Moshe wrote and carved himself was Yom Kippur. The third holiday when we finally rose up and received the Torah was Purim, the last holiday of the year. Before Yom Kippur was a low moment of total abandonment called the Golden Calf.
Student: the Holocaust and the birth of Israel.
Rabbi: After 2000 years we get our land back? Unbelievable. When I went back to the Ukraine, where my family was for 500 years, youâre in awe of the goings and the comings. It was one of the most powerful moments of my whole life. When the romans burned the Temple Titus made love to a whore and the cherubs were hugging. Barbinel said this is the only Tisha bâAv when you have to play music otherwise itâs too sad (leaving Spain). A land you can worship a temple you can worship. G*d wants us to worship Him, beyond our conception. You drink until you lose your conceptual abilities. Itâs the origin of Mardi Gras. Lent comes from counting the omer.
Cherubs: thereâs an amazing birth. The Jews are scattering to the four winds but theyâre carrying Torah. The empty space is that we canât worship our own conceptions. The G*d who is the source of both evil and good. How do you see the face of G*d when you look into the face of G*d. G*d created evil so we could make a choice. It inspires you to see how high the stakes are in your choices.
The kohanim have to wash in the mirrors of the women every day. When they go in the mishkan the kohanim are doing atonement for their own vicious murders caused by lies. Moshe says Iâm a murderer without the Torah. Theyâre doing teshuva for Shechem. The kohanim were so intense and competitive they all wanted the best jobs. Theyâd run a race up the ramp of the mishbayach. One time the guy who lost killed the winner. After that they threw lots for the jobs. He didnât get the death penalty but they had prison at that time.
The kohanim are intense, so they take the edge off when they play. They have to kill the animals and take confession with simcha. Without simcha the mishkan canât function. The simcha comes from the mirrors and the sense of play. It was like a big psychodrama.
Chumash: Line 33. He erected the courtyardâ¦
This is a huge, heavy building. Why does it say he and not they. Then comes this magic moment.
âAnd Moshe finished the work.â But itâs the same word for when G*d finished the heavens and earth. Then he went playing in the fields of Shabbos. Kids who donât play are trapped in abuse or parental expectations. We play every week. VAHAL, to finish means no matter how much effort you put into somethingâand Moshe paid attention to every inch of that mishkanâhe left it to Aaron. Not only that, everything was done according to G*dâs instructions, but it didnât work. It was missing the fire of G*d. It had to come down and activate the mishkan. Aaronâs sons brought the fire down and died doing it. They got drunk. It was Purim. They got the fire of Purim. They got drunk and they dressed up in the costume of the Kohane Godol. G*d tried to create the world with all the rules and nothing happened. G*d says I will be sanctified by those closest to Me. By Purim they got closer than Moshe did by Yom Kippur.
Nadab and Abihu are the ones who put everything into sequence. An amazing thing happens now:
-Moshe completed the work-
They key words are that Moshe couldnât go in. After he finished the whole thing, he had to leave. He had to leave it to Nadab and Abihu. His strength was laws, rules, not to start the mishkan.
When Vayikra Moshe is sitting outside, longing to be in, like Miriam. REMIND ME TO PLAY A SONG NEXT WEEK. NEXT THURSDAY IS THE FAST OF Esther.
Thatâs the feeling of abandonment and loneliness, and at that moment G*d calls to him. Thatâs going down to go up. Out of the inquisition comes the shulchan aruch, the state of Israel. Where did we get the energy? The Jew mirrors the unity of G*d to the world. We have to teach the world about scapegoating and throwing the lots and get the world to stop doing it. Why did they kill all those people in Shechem? Rashi says Yakov caused it by making Leah beg him for sex. Yakov was the main culprit, not Shechem. The kohanim are doing teshuva when they kill the animals with simcha.
Student: Itâs difficult when G*d says wipe these people out.
Rabbi: The Talmud says this is a unique war and not to be used as a precedent.
Student: Now Shabbos takes the place of the offerings.
Rabbi: But itâs in time not in space. Itâs more portable.
Student: the sacrifices were the teshuva and yet Shabbos is the one moment when weâre stepping away and not doing teshuva.
Rabbi8: You can worship teshuva too. You can have change and not-change. Everything is in balance. Jews have a unique ability to mirror the Oneness of G*d to the world. We are the partners to teach about Oneness.
Mubarak was one of the worst haters of Israel in spite of his cooperation. He put 100 sessions on TV of the elders of Zion and the blood libel. Thereâs plenty of room to gain a more reasonable voice but not much to lose. We can counter Arabs by scapegoating them. Itâs very easy to scapegoat them.
People donât know the difference between simcha and silliness. We live in a very depressed time. People donât know what simcha is. Last week he distinguished between hollow simcha and hallowed simcha. Holy simcha is longitudinal, it lasts beyond the event, and latitudinal. Thereâs a story about a man who dressed up and did a parody of the Nazis in Auschwitz on Purim and mocked the Nazis. Viktor Frankel said people survived because of luck.
The Aish Kodesh is talking about the blessing of Yitzchak to Yaakov. This is a unique reading of this. He says letâs read about simcha and the blessing of Yitzchak to Yaakov. Who hunted this food (after Yakov brought him) he will also be blessed. The Midrash tells us that Yitzchak was so mad when he realized Yakov had deceived him that he wanted to curse him and G*dâs voice gave him the blessing from the Akeida: whoever blesses you will be blessed; whoever curses you will be cursed. So the BAS KAL (the voice of G*d) says if you curse him, you will be cursed. Yitzhak was so mad at his son and wanted to curse him, why did he bless him instead of just being quiet? He knew whoever blesses him will be blessed. He jumps over here: what did Yitzhak want to do? He didnât come to bless him with just physical things, the plenty of the field. He wanted to give him over his Kedusha. What is this extra Kedusha he had inside him from his whole body? The life-force of simcha, what weâre trying to get back from the wine. And that Yakov would have the ability to spread his simcha all over the world because there will be no shalom without play, without simcha. Play softens the edges, when we can play with ourselves, when we can play creatively. Thatâs the essence of psychodrama and spontaneity. People canât change any other way. Thatâs the starting of Marino. We create ourselves through creative play.
Thereâs a latitudinal ability of simcha to infect others. If we create a certain environment in our party we wonât feel left out, especially after 2 shots of vodka. Drinking and dressing up brings down G*dâs fire. Itâs not a kidsâ holiday. Simcha makes things last and last. Oneg Shabbos builds from Friday night to shalosh seudos. Thereâs a crescendo. After that you can go back to your goals and expectations. Parents say to their children you canât play because you are going to be a Harvard brain surgeon and you have to get started early. People take wine and turn it into a curse and addiction; we take this wine and turn it into holiness. Yitzhak says to Yakov: bring me the wine before I can bless you. Chapter 27 in Beresheit. Serve me and let me eat my sonâs game. Kiddish wine is very important. I want you to give and give again and have the simcha of Kedusha in you and spread it to the world forever. Thatâs the job of a Jew. I never saw the blessing in this light. Thatâs brilliant; thatâs the Aish Kodesh. Thatâs a mouthful. We brought a lot of dots together for that.
Paradise is a dangerous place. Moshe didnât want to go back, the four who went into the Pardes. Flying too close to the sun. Itâs out of order chronologically. Moshe and Aaron, for all their greatness and talents, they couldnât do it.
Sacred Fire page 52
They key word is the same as our parsha, KARA. This is the cold word without the aleph, one hand in heaven and one on earth. Itâs the essence of the paradox. Our job in the world is to reflect G*dâs Oneness in a unique way.
-Rashi explains whenever G*d commanded-
Itâs called a chain in Kedusha: kedosh kedosh kedosh. Thereâs a beautiful song from Reb Shlomo: Yachad together together. Everybody is chanting at it. We have this picture of them having this unity and being chained together.
-Why does Rashi make this comment?
Why is G*d so affectionate to Moshe at this point? Moshe just had to leave. Itâs a hard moment in Mosheâs life. Why is G*d so tender and affectionate? G*d says to you, âI left my world to you after I made it and it was still a work in progress but I walked away from it into Shabbos. If I can do it, you can do it. So the same verb is used. Isnât that great? Every Shabbos you have to leave behind your fondest projects.
My children said if someone offered me $1 million on Shabbos Iâd walk away. Josh was ten and he found $100 in the parking lot on Shabbos. He was so cute. He says I kicked it under a box and after Shabbos Iâll go back and see if itâs still there. It wasnât. I was so proud of him and Iâm still proud of him. Itâs a big thing; you canât be bribed. Thatâs Moshe walking about from the mishkan.
Student: this is like all the people who walked away during the Holocaust.
Rabbi: and from Spain. My grandmother had to walk away from Rotna. There was a 4-year window to move 2 million people.
-Why does Rashi make this comment-
The same word is used to describe the tearing of the shirt during shiva. The affection and the loss. Moshe is sad. If you donât want the thing, giving it up is no big deal. Maybe not shopping in the mall is a much bigger deal. It was also not so easy for Miriam to be outside the camp.
-For instance at the burning bush-
Heâs asking why werenât those the calling with affection? Whereâs the affection expressed? In the small aleph.
-when G*d tested Abraham at the Akeida-
A very important point. We donât believe the chicken is taking our sins on Yom Kippur. Itâs in place of you. Itâs an exchange.
-On fast days we pray may the fat and blood we lose on this day be accepted as a sacrifice-
And there are a lot of very skinny people listening to this. Like Nadab and Abihu the Jews are the Korbon for the world. If you want to curse us, the curse will rebound onto you. This isnât a statement of arrogance; itâs a statement of humility.
-That is why Rashi chooses this text-
If you have to make a sacrifice to start Shabbos. Weâre not playing games. Weâre playing, but Shabbos is serious. You have to get off the treadmill. Whatever anxieties, attachments, projects, taking care of somebody else, whatever is weighing you down you have to let go and walk away into Shabbos.
Student: by Thursday all I can think about is Shabbos.
Rabbi: Thatâs rebuilding the mishkan.
Final remarks by one student: more layers of Shabbos and ways to relate what comes on Shabbos. What comes because of what we are pulling away from, what we are stopping. Thinking about simcha.
Reading of the Megillah Sunday morning at 10:00. Weâre as strong as our weakest link, so when we go to nursing homes we help everyone.
-Thatâs why Rashi chooses this text-
So on Purim we give to one another. He reverses the usual concept and says when we collaborate down here, the angels collaborate up there. Our joy creates unification in the heavenly realms. Our competition and violence creates chaos in the upper worlds.
A friend of mine, Morrie, weighed about 80 pounds. His broth is a big guy, from San Francisco. Shtark. This big guy comes in and says you know how I made it through Auschwitz? Morrie. I had given up. I didnât have any more will power. You had to have will power every second. I gave up. That day I was going to throw myself against the electric fence. Morrie went to an SS man; he picked the one I thought might have an ounce of humanity. He said do you like cookies. He said I love sugar cookies. Morrie was a cookie baker before the war. You bring me the ingredients and Iâll make you the best sugar cookies you ever had and youâll give me real food for my brother, because unless he gets real food heâs gone. He took scraps of wood under the barracks at midnight and the SS guard gave him salami and bread. He chewed every bite and put it in his brotherâs mouth. What did they have to give each other? Hope? It happened every single day. When you have nothing it doesnât take much. Maybe just a smile.
-Angels receive from one another-
Thatâs why we make such efforts to bless each other at the Friday night table. Having adults bless each other is very important.
-He heard the ministering angels praising G*d-
Thatâs all from the call to prophesy by Isaiah
-The first verse-
Moshe Moshe is the Mystarim. He shares Mosheâs pain. G*d calls to us and we hear this and we rise up and make Israel. We rise up from the ashes of the temple and make the Talmud. We rise from the death of god party and receive the Torah. This idea of calling is an amazing energy that comes and changes the whole picture.
Student: I finally got the mirror and the lens. Also the angels giving each other permission and saying holy is because of us giving and receiving and being in partnership.
The hallowed simcha creates the kadosh kadosh kadosh
Student: I was taken with drawing lots.
The kohanim ran a raceâthey brought peace to the mishkan by doing a lottery. We have devices to bring peace and stop killing, stop Amalak, competition, people feeling a lack of value in their lives. All these old people in nursing homes.
Student: I was reminded of a teaching of Shlomo Carlebach, the slaves, the man and his wife looking in the mirror, who is more beautiful, the imagery went that they would start a conversation about children, how beautiful their children would be and see them running and playing. That was the mechanism by which the mirrors worked. The second thing was the strange fire that somehow made the whole process reach a critical mass. Putting things in their proper place wasnât quite enough. The parallel in physics is chaos theory, the butterfly in china flaps its wing and we have a thunderstorm in Iowa. A consequence of an unknowable unforeseen event. Random doesnât really cover it. Itâs external to the system which youâre familiar.
Wine is called import from the world of chaos. It softens the edges and it can be used to holy or addictive purposes. On Purim itâs commanded to drink.
Student: heâs so good at using this imagery of harmony and harmony in the heavens-
Rabbi: and you can make an effect. He really brought those 20,000 people to dance.
Student: Iâve been practicing Shabbos on Saturdays. I decided I was going to stay home on Saturday. How glad I was I didnât have to go anywhere. I might write a check or TV, but Iâm not going anywhere. Unclean lips: I was thinking of my mother. When I get angry I cuss. I donât throw things, I donât get drunk. My mother gets mad at me. Another thing is balance for this next year. Iâve grown in areas because Iâve done a lot of reading. Some things I tried didnât work at all. I need some fun in my life. Itâs different from what it used to be. I took training for foster grandparents and I was accepted. Thatâs my balance. Iâm looking forward to being around some kids.
Rabbi Henoch Dov teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, www.RabbiHenochDov.com or via email email@example.com.
- 2011-03-11 06:38:17
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