Torah Fax

Friday, March 26, 2004 - 4 Nissan, 5764

Torah Reading: Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26)
Candle Lighting Time: 5:56 PM
Shabbat Ends: 6:57 PM 

Mastering The Mystery

Vayikra-"and He called" is the name of the third book of the Torah that we commence reading this week. Offhand, it does not sound like a very logical name with which to identify a Biblical book. The entire book is about the special and chosen role of the
Temple; its sacrifices, and its dedication. In addition, the book deals with the special and chosen role and responsibilities of the Kohain, the priest, whose job it was to serve in the Temple. What does "And He called" then have in common with the theme of holiness and "chosen-ness?"

It was perhaps this difficulty that prompted the Midrash to discuss the name that was used to call Moses or Moshe. Despite the fact that Moses had ten names-the Midrash writes-the name that G‑d used to call him was the name Moses, the name given to him by the daughter of Pharaoh, as the Torah recounts in Exodus.
This Midrashic comment is rather enigmatic. What does the fact that G‑d accepted the name Moses have to do with anything? And why has the Midrash not made this observation the first time G‑d speaks to Moses? Thirdly, why did G‑d prefer this name over Moses' other names, presumably that were given to him by his parents?
To answer these questions we should reflect on the reason the daughter of Pharaoh gave Moses this name in particular. The Torah writes that she named him Moses because "from the water she drew him." The word for drawing is close to the word Moshe. In other words, the name Moses carries a rather mundane meaning - drawing out of.
In truth, this name implies something truly remarkable. The water is what covers up whatever is contained in it. We don't see what is in the water unless we dive into it. So, as far as land-based creatures are concerned, water symbolizes that which is hidden from
our view, elusive and the beyond.
The Jews were suffering in Egypt and no help was in sight. Things were getting worse and worse, especially with the advent of the new decree to have all the male children thrown into the Nile. Why? It was a Divine mystery that baffled everyone. No one understood why there was so much suffering and when the promised salvation would come. It was the daughter of Pharaoh, who-as our Sages tell us-was going to the Nile river to cleanse herself from her father's pagan ways and convert to Judaism, that noticed the basket of Moses floating in the waters of the Nile. Filled with the inspiration of prophecy, she realized that this little baby in the basket floating in the Nile was the
key to unraveling the mystery of the Egyptian bondage. So when she named him Moses because she pulled him out of the water, it was much more than just a name based
on secondary physical action. This was her way of predicting that this boy will some day reveal the mystery of the bondage - and other Divine mysteries as well.
Where does one find the theme of Divine mystery pronounced in connection with Moses? It is at the beginning of the third Book of the Torah, where it sates: "And He called to Moses." It does not say who called, although it is obvious that it is referring to G‑d.  The fact that the Torah doesn't use G‑d's name implies that the Torah is referring to an aspect of G‑d that is "beyond," unknowable and unfathomable. It is this indescribable aspect of G‑d who called Moses by his name  - a name which tells us something of Moses' own character and level.
Moses personified revealing the mysteries of the creation and its Creator.  And thus the Midrash stresses that although Moses had multiple names, the one name that expresses his ability to reveal the otherness of G‑d, was the name that stuck and is highlighted at the beginning of this book.
This serves as introduction to all that will follow. This book is about the holiest aspects of Judaism, the Hebrew word for which really means apart or beyond. And while the name Leviticus or the Hebrew equivalent Torat Kohanim (the laws governing priests) might be more descriptive of the content of this boo, the name Vayikra-And He called" is more expressive of the soul of this book-the revealing of the hidden aspects of Judaism and G‑d.
The delay of the Messianic Age, for which we've been waiting for thousand of years, is also a mystery. In a week that highlights the mastering of the mystery, the first week of the month of liberation, is certainly an opportune time to have this enigma resolved and the mystery mastered. 
Moshiach Matters

Though Moshiach will come first and foremost to Israel, all the nations will recognize his wisdom and sublimity and submit to his rule. He will guide and instruct them as well. (Midrash Tehilim and Beraishis Rabba)

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