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In the first sentence of this parasha there is a textual anomaly. The alef in vayikra is small. (וַיִּקְרָא) Abnormal letters are rare but they should draw our attention to the word or verse.

“The L-RD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying..” Leviticus 1:1

Vayikra means to call and daber means to speak. It seems redundant “to call” and then “to speak” to Moses but I believe this is teaching an important lesson. Vayikra is first used in the creation description in Genesis where G-d calls the light day and the darkness night. Once G-d calls it can never be undone. First we are called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9) and then He speaks and we obey. Every word He speaks is a treasure, which we cherish. One reason Leviticus, the book detailing about 247 commandments, begins with the word vayikra may be to emphasize that the commandments demonstrate that we are called out. How else would anyone know you are called out and set apart if not by your deeds? With this in mind the pictograph of an alef is an ox, which represents strength and its gematria is 1 representing the one and only G-d. Buried within the details and laws surrounding the sacrifices, temple, and priesthood is revelation about the one and only G-d. And it is G-d Who is our refuge and strength. (Ps. 46:1) I believe this is what the small alef represents. Before we read another word in Leviticus we have a reminder in the text that G-d is the center of everything we are about to read and from Him we have strength to keep His commandments. The small size of the letter suggests that these themes are subtle but they are certainly present.

Throughout this portion there are several animals that qualify for a sacrifice. Previously in Genesis 22 when G-d commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son a ram is what Abraham found caught in the thicket. Although Isaac asked about a lamb and Abraham responded, “G-d will seek out for Himself a lamb for the offering my son.” (Gen. 22:8) Why then was a ram provided instead of a lamb? This portion may provide one answer.

“And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the L-RD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering.” Leviticus 6:6

This portion describes a ram being used for a guilt offering. In other portions a ram is used for a burnt offering (Lev. 16:3) and a peace offering (Num. 6:14) but never a sin offering. It was as if G-d was assuring Abraham that he did not commit any sin. Even further, G-d provides a ram, which may be used for a guilt offering to alleviate any feelings of guilt Abraham may have had after performing such a traumatic act. What a gracious and loving G-d! His will is perfect!

Finally, in the end of the parasha the Art Scroll Stone Chumash contains the following commentary:

“This Masoretic note means: There are 111 verses in the Sidrah, numerically corresponding to the mnemonic, know G-d. This alludes to man’s striving to know his Creator and come closer to Him, a goal that is achieved by means of the offerings. Another mnemonic is, He commanded. This alludes to an essential facet of the Sidrah, which repeats several times that offerings are, a satisfying aroma, because, G-d says, ‘I have commanded and My will has been done’ (Rashi 1:9; R’ David Feinstein)”

This struck me particularly because G-d blessed my wife and I with our first child last week and Vayikra is her portion. My prayer for her and my responsibility as a father is to help her “know G-d” and obey what “He commanded” just like her amazing mother. My wife is an excellent example for her and I am excited about teaching my daughter about our G-d, our Savior, and His Word. She is such a wonderful gift and we are very excited about our new journey together as a family. Thank you for your prayers!

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