Look Who’s Calling? By Isaac Shulman


Parashat VaYikra begins with the words “VaYikra El Moshe” “And He [Hashem] called to Moshe”(VaYikra 1:1).  Why does the Torah use the peculiar wording, VaYikra, he called, instead of VaYeira, He appeared?  Rashi expounds that VaYikra denotes that Hashem called to Moshe and Moshe “heard” the beckoning of Hashem; however, the Jews around him did not. Similarly, Rav Yaakov Neuberger says, “Apparently, we are to understand through this… that moments of spiritual clarity, epiphanies of spiritual growth, come and go. However, inspired individuals will seize the moments and craft a life around them.” Moshe had the remarkable ability to hear the calling of Hashem. There are many examples of Moshe rising to the occasion, upon “hearing” Hashem beckoning him. When Moshe saw an Egyptian taskmaster ruthlessly beating a Jew, while no one else stood up to protest, Moshe took action and punished the Egyptian for his wrongdoing. Similarly, when Moshe observed a Jew raising his hand to strike his fellow, Moshe took a stand, rebuking the two Jews for fighting. Moshe Rabbeinu had the innate ability to hear when Hashem was calling upon him to take action and to respond to this calling.  As we approach Parashat Zachor and Purim, we have a chance to reflect on the Purim story. Times seemed dismal for Bnei Yisrael.  It would have been difficult to understand the true, divine purpose of Vashti’s death sentence, Ester being crowned the new queen, and Mordechai overhearing and reporting the planned assassination of the king if you were living in those times. However, Mordechai, seeing Hashem’s hand in these events, understood that these were all part of Hashem’s divine will, and therefore he told Ester “If you don’t save the Jews, someone else will,” recognizing that everything was part of a larger plan woven by Hashem.  By contrast, Amalek’s standard explanation of even miraculous events was coincidence or happenstance.  Our obligation is to recognize Hashem’s hand in everything and seize the moment for our own spiritual growth.

Last week a terrible tragedy befell Klal Yisrael in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in Yershalyim. We cannot hope to understand the divine meaning and purpose behind this tragedy, but let us hope for the inner strength to seize this moment for our own spiritual growth, as opposed to becoming enraged and spiteful towards Hashem. Let us hope that we can hear Hashem’s “call,” and use it for our individual and collective spiritual growth as Moshe did, and let us always remember that Hashem has a long term plan in sight, even if it is hidden from us, as it was in the story of Purim. 

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