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Vayikra 5782

March 7, 2022

Rabbi Geier


BS"D || Rabbi Geier

Vayikra 5782

This week we begin the third book of the Torah.

Vayikra means "and he called". According to the text of the Torah, it is another moment of a call from God, in this case addressed to Moshe. But we must consider that according to the midrash, God's voice is not a faint voice. Today we read and sang psalm 29: "Kol Adonai bakoach", "Kol Adonai Shover Arazim" and "Kol Adonai yachil midbar", which wants to express that "the voice of God generates strength, breaks the cedars and makes the desert tremble.

It is clear that, being Bnei Israel, in the middle of the silence of the desert, if the voice of the Kadosh Baruch Hu is as the psalm teaches us, someone else must have heard it. We can say that Moshe could have been the one who best perceived the divine message, his inner voice. We can even consider that he was the main recipient of the messages.

But would it be just him that recipient? How can each one of us perceive it? The answer is simple. Really simple. Just LISTENING.

There may be a tremendous noise out there, that if we are not prepared to hear it, or not have the intention, the KAVANAH, to hear, few or no one will react. God may be crying out for us to react around us, to reach out to those who suffer, to support causes that help, to open our hearts to the needs of our community or the nations of the world. Surely, if our hearts are going to be closed to our environment, our eyes looking only towards ourselves and our ears impervious to the needs of the other, that clamor remains mute.

It is as if our radio receivers were disconnected or turned off: the stations can transmit 24 hours day after day, but nobody would listen to them.

Throughout our history there were several listeners who reacted: Avraham listened. Yaakov knew how to listen. Moshe, of course. Yosef knew how to open his ears and even David, Melech Israel, was able to do it. And so we can reach our times. One of the listeners in our time is, precisely, Hadassah.

When we started preparing for this 110th anniversary, there wasn't even a war in Europe. A much more complicated fight was taking place against a virus that taught us a lot of things about how to take care of each other and how to rebuild our lives in virtual communities that kept us bound to the love of those around us from afar, and connect traditions and culture too.

Already then we had a lot to say and thank Hadassah for all the actions it took and that we already shared today.

Now that the pandemic is behind us, we could rejoice strongly with the celebration of Purim. But on the streets of Europe, at the border crossings of Ukraine, the number of refugees has already exceeded one and a half million, and the dead and murdered by the cruel and unscrupulous invader grow every day. We see the pain of those who must, once again, leave everything to stay alive. Columns of women and children displaced from a familiar reality and a warm home and now attacked, on the road or in temporary shelters. With the outbreak of this war that changed the parameters of the dialogue of the nations of the 21st century, Hadassah assumes its responsibility also in Ukraine, with the Jewish Community, to reach those who need care and assistance.

On this Shabbat Zachor in which we begin reading the Book of Vayikra, from the root KRA, which means called, we are called to remember not to allow it to be repeated, to condemn and erase the names of those responsible for committing so many atrocities, so that may be glorified by so many insane minds that inhabit our world. We are called to not let only Moshe or Hadassah or some other enlightened person, be the ones who hear KOL ADONAI, the cry of Adonai.

The call, Vayikra, means today that no effort is enough if we really want to build a world in which virulent hatred no longer exists. Only then can we truly honor the memory of those whom Amalek has taken from us throughout the ages.

As a result of the pandemic, we have all lost very dear people whom we mourn. But those who mourn the losses caused by the Amaleks of all time experience an entirely different kind of pain.

We are more deaf than before. But the call is there. Perhaps not for such enormous deeds, but the sum of small actions is where we make great projects.

Ears open to the cry of the other and willing and sensitive hearts to understand what the request is. It is the basis for living together, leaving egos and bad ways aside. Be aware that only by listening to each other can we continue to build.

Shabbat Zachor, remember. Vayikra, the cry.

Once again we are going to read Vayikra. This time… will you listen?

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