Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Then God Way Up In Heaven, For Her One Day Did Call (Charlie Monroe - "Rosa Lee McFall")

My children love to play games with me. No I am not talking about “Monopoly”, or cards, or any of those kinds of games. My children like to play the game called “The Annoy Daddy Game”, or “Ignore Abba” game. I think most kids play some version of this game with most parents. I know that when I was a kid I would play this game all the time.  The game can be played at any time of day. However it is usually played at home and frequently it will be based on a child being reminded to put something away, pick something up. The game starts of as quiet. In a normal “inside” voice I will ask one of my children to pick something up, put something away, do a chore, or remind them to do their homework. Sometimes they are in a different room than I am and since the aforementioned child failed to respond when I said the corresponding name; I go back to wherever they are and call the name again. This time I get a faint response: “huh? Ok... In a minute.”  Having played this game with my parents, I know that the response is really code for: “I am ignoring you and I am busy doing anything but listening to you.” Having called their name nicely not once but twice; I call their name a third time. This time I don’t just call the child’s name, I yell the name. I yell it in a way that they can’t ignore. I yell the child’s name usually followed by the word “Now!”  Finally the child responds and I think for a moment that they will finally listen and do what I asked of them. However that moment is fleeting because as the child approaches me, they will incredulously look at me and say “What are you yelling about?” They know and I know that they will do what I asked; but they also know that they “got” me. They won the “Annoy Daddy” game.

This Shabbat we begin the third book of the Torah, Sefer Vayikra by reading from the Parsha with the same name VaYikrah. For all of Breishit (Genesis) and the first half of Shmot (Exodus), we read narratives. The Second half of Shmot, we read the blue prints of and then the actual construction of the Mishkan – the portable worship station that would accompany Bnai Yisroel on their Trek towards Eretz Yisroel. Now the Torah takes a break from narrative and construction. Now we begin reading the various types of offerings that Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, will make on our behalf. These offerings are the various means by which the individual or the community is able to approach Hashem. We approach Hashem for a variety of reasons, including special occasions for personal reasons: repentance, thanksgiving, and special occasions for communal reasons: seasonal festivals, or daily service.

We are familiar with the language that usually appears when Hashem speaks to Moshe. VaYomer Adoshem el Moshe Leimor Hashem said to Moshe saying; or VaYiDaBeR Adoshem El Moshe LeimorAnd Hashem spoke to Moshe sayin. Now for the first  and perhaps only time, Hashem neither ‘says’ nor “speaks” to Moshe. Instead we read   Vayikrah el Moshe -God called to Moshe (Lev 1:1). ” Imagine, God calling out to a person before speaking. The word “VaYiKRa” ends with a letter that is in smaller font size than the rest of the letters that are found in the Torah. So clearly, this type of VaYiKRa is different than the typical kind of VaYiKRA with all  the letters being the same size. Rashi, the 11th century French vintner and commentator, explain that God speaks in a loud booming voice; a voice that can shatter trees and be heard throughout the world. However this VaYiKRa, was only heard by Moshe. The calling was done so in a loving manner. The diminutive final letter – Aleph; suggests two possibilities.  First, Hashem whispered Moshe’s name in a manner that only Moshe could hear. Second, Moshe was humble enough, as symbolized by the diminutive letter, that his soul was receptive to God’s calling. The result of which Moshe quickly and eagerly responded with Hinneni“Here I am”.

I can’t imagine Moshe ignoring God’s calling out to him. On those rare occasions when my children don’t feel like playing their games, and they respond to my calling the first couple of times, they always seem surprised that I am nicer, easier going, and my request never seems so neither overbearing nor unreasonable. They even think that I am a good mood. Usually their acknowledgment elicits a smile from me. I explain to them that  no one likes to be ignored and that we get a long so much better when we actually pay attention to one another, especially when we hear our names being called.

Rav Yitz

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