Monday, March 17, 2014

The Enlightenment of Man

                                                           Parashas Vayikra
                                                Receiving the Call From God
                                                           Rabbi David Katz

In our Parasha, we are immediately made aware of an odd little "alef" that finalizes the word [and the Parasha's namesake] "Vayikra" [meaning "and He called (to Moses)"] and we are told of endless interpretations upon even a little bit of solid investigation. Examples range anywhere from an expression of Moses' humility and onwards into the esoteric; yet what may be the most interesting is the simple meaning itself! God is heard here calling out to Moses, and as tradition states, only Moses was to hear this special calling, one that would summon him to the Tent of Meeting. Thus the "alef" hints to a special calling to Moses; the biggest revelation however might not be this little alef that captures our imaginations, rather, we should begin to pay attention to all of the other "callings" that exist not only in our Parasha, but are scattered throughout the entire Torah! Once one becomes sensitive to hear the call, the Torah [and its simple meaning] is transformed into the Book of the Man-Angel [Kruv; examples are the Avot, Moses, Noah, Shem, etc.], expressing an ability to hear the voice of God in Torah, laced within an ultra-dynamic context, even in places that may have been practically sealed from consciousness.

If one were to be devoid of "the calling" – a keen awareness and sensitivity to True Torah Vernacular, the Torah becomes a meandering and redundant – even meaningless text. For this reason the Torah was given with the means to extrapolate its innate depth, with such works and traditions such as Midrash, Zohar, Kabbalah, etc.; essentially "Pardes" [the four levels of Torah exegesis] goes hand and glove with the Written and Oral Torah. However proper context is needed when delving into the mystical realm, and this discussion is not exempt from any such attempt; if not to only lay out one clear purpose – to master the Torah's text as a form of enlightenment. In a sense, this angle is the approach to take a mute text, and learn to how to watch it come to life, and shine an eternal light, such that this would define enlightenment. It goes without saying, that this is at least one clear purpose of the esoteric realm, in that it identifies proper [con]text, and in that sense, this is the essence of a Tree of Life. The Torah text that is open, allows us to relate life with Torah; in simple terms the Torah becomes Universal – Jews and Gerim, in simplified terms.

Verse 1:2 of Vayikra is perhaps one of the Torah's most profound examples of where "hearing" the Torah speaking changes one's understanding completely, and for that reason this verse is used as a case example of where in-depth vernacular can reveal the Torah's dynamic core. The verse says, "speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: when a man among you brings an offering to Hashem: from animals - from the cattle or from the flock shall you bring your offspring." The first and relatively most obvious revelation in the verse is one that draws admiration from most if not all of the major commentators, as we are told "when a man…" If the Torah were speaking to only Jews, the verse would not use the universal term "man" but rather a distinctive term applicable only to Jews. Thus with the term "adam" [man] the commentators all point out the subtleties in the law as it applies to both Jews and non-Jews. To support the learning, notice how the verse says, "speak to the Children of Israel" and is followed up with "and say to them" – keeping in the perspective of the article, one can easily hear a calling out to two people as opposed to a somewhat draconian feeling from withholding depth in the text.
* note, when making conclusions in text, a dynamic view is to be held; this is to always allow for the inclusive when applicable, rather than an exclusive view; the Torah is meant to have 70 faces and 50 gates of understanding]

Throughout our Parasha [and the whole Torah for the most part] we find Universal terms laced within a usually thought of text as exclusively Jewish. [later on the mention of "nefesh" – soul, refers to humanity, another example of inclusive with the normative Jewish angle] It should not then come to a surprise that as these callings from Hashem are more frequent than we would have thought, the Torah truly is a Book for humanity; this going back to the original ink! Once we bring into light these concepts, the often viewed enigmatic nature to such works like Midrash and Zohar all of a sudden begin to resonate to a much more profound tune, as they are the hubs for this enlightenment.

And it doesn't stop here or there, for the Midrash points out that the Book of Chronicles [a book mostly composed of names and lineage] is only meant to be understood from this angle! Meaning that if one were to take it on a literal simple meaning level, knowledge would be gained, however it would be of very little authentic content or wisdom. The Midrash stamps yet another round of approval in this subject, as it says, "cherished [to God] are names of Gerim." To this light the Zohar points out [something obvious, yet not often thought of] that the Torah is essentially a book about Gerim! – for its entire content is written outside the Land of Israel, and is seen in Kabbalistic terms as names, which on a deeper level exists as names of God. This leaves one to wonder if there is or ever was a simple meaning to Torah – once it becomes universal.

The Midrash ties all of these points together over its content to our parasha, as we learn about Moses the Man-Angel who hears the calling from God, and is seen to be angelic on many levels, through his prophecy and many names in particular [he has 10 names]. In fact if one pieces all of the dots together from the Midrash, especially with its opening associations to King David's Psalm 103 that also allude to "hearing Hashem's calling" – and has revealed allusions to angelic men [as well as hints of Kruv; same letters as "Baruch"], we end of up sensing just what attributes are to this Kruv – man. However, more important than his makeup is his ability to hear Hashem. The Kruv hears and learns a dynamic Torah from the Mouth of God [that we hear two]. Words like adam, nefesh, names, etc. all express their higher calling, a Torah for humanity.

The Jewish Torah is quite simple; we know the names [even when we really don't], we know what adam means [even though we really don't], we don't mind the meandering reiterations [even though we do], and we know the Torah is only Jewish [even though it bothers us, yet words fail to express aloud what is missing]. The goal is simple: Kruv – to be a man-angel who hears God in His Torah, calls this enlightenment – one that can be identified and achieved, and walks in light revealing universal light and truth, while learning that God speaks to [all of] humanity.

The Torah is given to man and not angels, yet it is incumbent upon man to overcome his angelic self as represented through his evil inclination and progress until he literally overcomes a divine encounter. This is the substance of a Kruv, and as the Zohar points out, there are angelic men as prophets and there are angelic men as priests, i.e. men of Torah. The Torah is the eternal substance that flavors the prophetic word…and this word was given to the Kingdom of Priests, and to those that learn her sacred script to be likened to the High Priest. Of course this is a direct reference to Jews and Gerim, who both are blessed without measure, to be able to rise to hear the call of Hashem through Torah, and experience the true gift of authentic enlightenment.

Should one find it odd that reality emanates from a book – Adam received a book too; coincidence in word usage this is not, for any man may bring an offering to the House of God, as the book mandates, and has been kept since the beginning of time, and will continue to be kept, through the promise of an enlightened Messiah. 

God Willing class covering the Parasha [video/audio] will take place tomorrow Tuesday  at 11 P.M. Tzfat time [we did not change our clocks yet]

Click Here For New Link!

Notice that we are now broadcasting from the campus of the original Yeshiva of Shem and Ever in Tzfat!


Anonymous said...

Baruch HaShem....
So incredible!!!
Thank you Rabbi for doing this for all of us....

dodi55 said...

AMEN!!! to what "Anonymous" said.

Denise Raterta said...


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