Vayikra: The Call
Volume XVII, No. 24
11 Adar II 5763
March 14, 2003
Alan and Paula Goldman
in memory of Sam W. Goldman a"h
Orach Chaim 1:1-3
Begin new cycle of Halachah Yomit today!
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Avodah Zarah 2
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Beitzah 6
This week's parashah opens, "He called to Moshe." It does not
say, "G-d called to Moshe," because, explains Rabbeinu Bachya z"l
(14th century; Spain), it is understood that our parashah
continues where last week's parashah left off. There we read
(Shmot 40:34-35), "The cloud covered the Ohel Moed / Tent of
Meeting, and the glory of Hashem filled the Tabernacle. Moshe
could not enter the Ohel Moed, for the cloud rested upon it, and
the Glory of Hashem filled the Tabernacle." Our parashah opens,
"He" - meaning that same "Glory of Hashem"- "called to Moshe."
The call to Moshe was an indication that the Glory of Hashem had
constricted itself into the Kodesh Ha'kodashim / Holy of Holies,
thus informing Moshe that he now could enter the Ohel Moed.
Rabbeinu Bachya adds: This call came from the small letter
"heh" in the word (Bereishit 2:4) "be'hibarram" / "when they were
created." This also is the reason for the small "aleph" in
"Vayikra" / "He called" (at the beginning of our parashah). What
does this mean? R' Zev Hoberman shlita explains: As just noted,
we find a verse in the Torah that contains a small letter "heh".
There also is a verse (Devarim 32:6) that contains a large letter
"heh". The Vilna Gaon z"l explains that these two letters, each
of which has a gematria of five, allude to the five similarities
between G-d and man's soul (see Berachot 10a). Of course, G-d is
greater than we can conceive, and any divine qualities that the
soul has are infinitesimal compared to G-d. Thus, the one "heh"
is large and the other is small. Says R' Hoberman: for G-d to
make room for Moshe in the Ohel Moed, so-to-speak, G-d had to
constrict His Glory to a mere shadow of Itself, just as the
divine qualities that the soul possesses are a mere shadow of G-d
Himself. This is what Rabbeinu Bachya meant when he wrote that
the small "heh" called to Moshe. For the same reason, the
"aleph" of "He called" is small, for were G-d to reveal Himself
in all His Glory, even Moshe could not enter the Ohel Moed.
(Heard from R' Hoberman, 4 Adar II 5763)
"Vayikra / He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him . .
Rashi comments: "One might think that for the hafsakot (the
breaks between paragraphs of the Torah) there was also such a
kri'ah / call! Therefore it states, `[He called to Moshe] and
spoke [to him],' thus intimating that there was a call preceding
a dibur / an occasion of speech, but not preceding a hafsakah."
What does this mean? R' Yaakov Lorberbaum z"l (author of
Netivot Hamishpat, Chavat Daat and numerous other significant
halachic works; died 1832) explains: Moshe achieved his exalted
position only in the merit of Bnei Yisrael. However, after Bnei
Yisrael donated wholeheartedly to the construction of the
Mishkan, they achieved such a lofty level that even Moshe could
not reach it. This is the meaning of the verse at the end of
last week's parashah (Shmot 40:35), "Moshe could not enter the
Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested upon it, and the glory of
Hashem filled the Tabernacle." The Divine revelation that Bnei
Yisrael brought about was too awesome for even Moshe to see.
In many places, the root "kra" means, "to make great." For
example, we read (Yishayah 42:6), "I am Hashem, I have called you
with righteousness," which the ancient Aramaic translation
renders, "I have made you great." Our verse, "Vayikra to Moshe,"
means that Hashem made Moshe even greater than he was so that he
could enter the Ohel Moed despite the presence of Hashem's Glory
Rambam notes in Moreh Nevochim (The Guide to the Perplexed,
Part I, Ch. 21) that a person who achieves a lofty level, for
example, great wisdom, may die if he is separated from that
level. The only way to avoid this is to receive G-d's aid.
Therefore, writs R' Lorberbaum, we might have thought that Moshe
needed a kri'ah before a hafsakah. (In Rashi's words: "One might
think that for the hafsakot / breaks there was also such a kri'ah
/ call!") In other words, we might have thought that whenever
Hashem paused from speaking to Moshe, Moshe fell from his lofty
level and needed to be raised up anew by G-d to avoid the fate of
which Rambam wrote. Therefore Rashi informs us that this was not
the case. Ruach Hakodesh / The Divine Spirit did not leave Moshe
during the hafsakot. Rather, Rashi explains, the purpose of the
breaks between the Torah's paragraphs was to allow Moshe to
review what he had learned.
The word "Vayikra" is written with a small letter "aleph." R'
Akiva Yosef Schlesinger z"l (rabbi in Hungary and Yerushalayim;
died 1926) writes that this alludes to the verse (Tehilim 8:6),
"You have made him but slightly less than the angels." Our Sages
speak of 50 Gates of Understanding, and Moshe merited to enter 49
of them. (The small "aleph" - whose gematria equals one -
alludes to the missing Gate.)
Why couldn't Moshe enter that fiftieth gate? Because, explains
R' Schlesinger, that gate can be attained only in Eretz Yisrael.
"And those who were close to him were Karshina, Sheitar,
Admata, Tarshish, Merres, Marsina, Memuchan . . ." (Esther
The Midrash writes that corresponding to King Achashveirosh's
seven advisors whose names are listed in the above verse were
seven angels who stood before G-d and defended Bnei Yisrael
against Achashveirosh's plots. Each angel pleaded with Hashem
using words related to the name of one of the seven advisors.
One said, "If Achashveirosh defeats Bnei Yisrael, who will
sacrifice one year-old calves before You?" ("One year-old calf"
= "Par ben shanah" => "Karshina")
The second said, "Who will sacrifice two doves before You?"
("Two doves" = "Shtei Torim" => "Sheitar")
The third said, "Who will build an earthen altar for You?"
("Earthen altar" = "Mizbach Adama" => "Admata")
The fourth said, "Who will wear the garments of the Kohen Gadol
(which contain a gem called "Tarshish")?
The fifth said, "Who will stir the blood of the sacrifices?"
("Stir" = "Memarres" => "Meres")
The sixth said, "Who will stir the flour offerings?" ("Stirs"
= "Memarres" => "Marsina")
The seventh said, "Who will prepare the altar before You?"
("Prepares" = "Maicheen" => "Memuchan")
When the angels concluded their pleas, Hashem answered, "Bnei
Yisrael are My sons. They are My friends. They are My beloved .
. ." Apparently, the angels' pleas were successful.
Why, of all of the mitzvot, did the angels single out these
seven? Why didn't they ask, for example, "Who will put on
tefilin? Who will lift the lulav?"
R' Eliyahu Hakohen Itamari z"l (died 1729) explains: Chazal
teach that the day on which the Mishkan was completed was as
happy in G-d's eyes (so-to-speak) as the day on which He created
the world. When Adam was created, G-d had great expectations for
his future. However, using his G-d given free will, Adam
"frustrated" G-d's plans. But mankind was given a second chance
when Bnei Yisrael received the Torah and built the Mishkan. The
day on which the Tabernacle was dedicated was therefore as
auspicious as the very day on which the world was created.
Achashveirosh recognized the importance of the Mishkan. As the
Gemara notes, the purpose of the party described at the beginning
of the Megillah was to celebrate the fact that, according to
Achashveirosh's calculations, the appointed time for the end of
the exile had come and gone without the Bet HaMikdash -- the
successor to the Mishkan -- being rebuilt. Achashveirosh
therefore donned the garments of the Kohen Gadol (which had been
captured in Nevuchadnezar's war on Yerushalayim) and defiantly
celebrated the apparent victory of evil over good. [The Talmud
explains how Achashveirosh miscalculated the date of Bnei
The angels said to G-d, "Achashveirosh is celebrating the
demise of the Mishkan and its service. Haman says You are
sleeping. Tell us: Whose plan for the Mishkan will stand --
Achashveirosh's or Yours?"
(Sefer Midrash Talpiot)
R' Chaim Biberfeld z"l
R' Chaim (Eduard) Biberfeld was born in Breslau, Germany in
1864. He studied under R' Dr. Esriel Hildesheimer, head of the
Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. Upon graduating, R' Biberfeld
held a number of rabbinic positions, first as rabbi of the Beth
Hamedrash of Karlsruhe, then as Dayan of the Adath Yisroel
Congregation in Berlin, and later as rabbi of the
Heidereutergasse Beth Hamedrash in Berlin, succeeding his father.
In the 1890's, when stores in Germany were required to be
closed on Sunday, R' Biberfeld was one of the foremost promoters
of the counter "Pro-Shabbat Movement." He published the monthly
Der Sabbath from 1910 to 1914, until publication was stopped by
World War I.
In 1901, together with R' Yonah Bondi of Mainz, R' Gershon
Lange, and R' Yitzchak Issac Halevi (author of the history Dorot
Harishonim), R' Biberfeld established the Frankfurt-based Society
for Jewish Literature. The aim of this society was to further
the study of Jewish history in a manner that respected the Torah,
as portrayed in Dorot Harishonim. The Society published a
yearbook containing articles and monographs dealing with a range
of historical material.
At the age of 37, R' Biberfeld began to study medicine. In a
short time he passed his examinations and became a physician in
Berlin, where he practiced for more than 30 years. At the same
time, he continued to hold his rabbinic positions.
On Kristalnacht, R' Biberfeld remained in his Beth Hamedrash.
The strong gate of the building withstood the battering of the
Nazis and the shul with thousands of books was temporarily
spared. Shortly afterward, R' Biberfeld emigrated to
Yerushalayim, where he died in 1939.
In 1905, R' Biberfeld published Sabbath Vorschriften. This
work was translated into Hebrew and was published in Yerushalayim