Why do these blessings only speak of a plentiful harvest and safety from enemies? Are there no spiritual blessings that accompany obedience to the will of Elohim? Wouldn’t “following His decrees and observing His commandments and performing them” (Leviticus 26:3) merit a personal growth and blessing as well? The Torah, apparently, doesn’t see the need to expound on that. It seems to imply that there is a direct link between how the crops turn out and how we behave. Why?
To most people, the book of Vayikra/Leviticus is an onslaught of laws, rules, rituals, and outdated information. But for those willing to look deeper, there are all sorts of treasures to be found. Such is the case with this week’s Torah Portion.
This week we begin a new book of the Torah, Vayikra. Vayikra, or “Leviticus” in English actually means “And He called”. Here Adoni calls Moshe to Himself to teach him the statutes regarding the temple sacrifices and offerings. As briefly touched on in last weeks Shabbat teaching, sacrifice or korban, in Hebrew, (קָרְבָּן) comes from the root word karav (קָרַב) meaning “to approach or to come near”. It’s important to note, however, that the very first thing given to Moshe is in regards to one who decides to give an “olah kerebano,” the ascending offering.
This weeks Torah portion begins with Moshe calling the entire congregation of Israel together. This is where the title is derived from, “And he assembled”. We begin reading about Shabbat being set aside and then donations of the people for the building of the Mishkan (The Tabernacle). Note that it makes clear that the donations were from those who’s heart moved them, indicating a voluntary donation.
This week’s Torah Portion follows the giving of the Ten Commandments. Separating the Ten Commandments and this Parsha are a few commandments regarding the altar that will be built in the future at the end of Parsha Yitro. However, this week’s reading begins with: