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Weekly Torah Portion 

Vayikra וַיִּקְרָא

[God] Called Out

Leviticus 1:1–5:26


Words of Torah from Rabbi Stacy Petersohn

Last week, we said goodbye to the book of Exodus (though not for long with Pesach coming up) and this week we are entering into the book of Leviticus. For many people, the book of Leviticus feels dry, as it is a list of rules and instructions for the worship of God. I want to offer a read of this book that I hope will change some minds. 

The book of Leviticus opens with the words, “God called to Moses from the Tent of Meeting, saying: Speak to the children of Israel...” This command of speaking to the children of Israel makes the existence of the book of Leviticus wholly unique in the ancient world. For most ancient cultures, the minutiae of ritual and instruction for the worship of deities was a well-kept secret from the public. Only those who had been inducted into the worship of a deity could know the ins and outs of ritual. 

Leviticus, on the other hand, is a completely public handbook. And the reason for this is radical: for the public and the priests to know their roles in worship of God. The Israelites are not to be separate from, but a part of, the worship of God. We continue this tradition today with our modern guides, including the siddur, the prayerbook. Next time you find yourself in T’filah, take a moment of appreciation for our role in connecting with the Divine. 

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Thu, March 23 2023 1 Nisan 5783