Torah Tidbits

Closing the Gap
Shabbat Parashat VaYikra
March 8, 2014 – 6 Adar II 5774    featured-rabbi

Closing the Gap

The end of the Book of Exodus is puzzling.  After devoting entire chapters to the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert, the Torah teaches us:

“…When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:33-35)

After all of Moses’ hard work, and after all the Israelites had come together to give their all for the construction of the Sanctuary, the Torah tells us that Moses found himself unable to enter the Tabernacle because God’s presence filled the Tabernacle!

But, then, in our Parsha, VaYikra [And God called out to Moses…], God reaches out to Moses, and invites him in.

How many times do we, like Moses, do everything in our power to create an atmosphere of holiness, to do the right thing, to improve the world, only to find ourselves distanced –  unable to realize our highest aspirations and goals!

The Book of Leviticus, which we begin reading this week, is an attempt to help us understand how we may come closer to God in a world in which clouds may at times overwhelm our vision.  These clouds may be described as clouds of holiness, or as clouds of doubt, or of uncertainty.

No matter how we may describe our feelings of alienation and of distance, God invites us in, setting before us rituals and teachings designed to help us navigate the complex paths of our world; helping us to close gaps between our perception of an, as yet, unredeemed reality and our prophetic vision of a much improved future.

Today, we live in an increasingly virtual world that often keeps us isolated even as we communicate with greater frequency with one another.  Closing the gap between ourselves and others, and between ourselves and God, is no less challenging today than it was in ancient times.  If anything, it might be even more challenging!

No, we do not perform the ritual sacrifices that are described in Parashat VaYikra, but reading about the system of sacrifices can inspire us to search for concrete ways in which we may bridge and close gaps in our lives today, bringing us closer not only to God,  but to one another as well.   Never underestimate the power of tradition and of rituals to give us a greater sense of connection and of holiness!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror