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Take the Challenge

By: Mrs Malka Hubscher

The Parsha begins with a command to Moshe to address the Kohanim and teach them very specific laws that pertain only to Kohanim. They are told who they can and cannot marry, physical requirements for work in the Mikdash, the laws of Teruma and which animals are unfit to be Korbanot. These commandments fit into the general theme of Sefer Vayikrah, which is korbanot and avodah in the Mikdash.  Perek 23 then begins with 'parshat hamoadim' the section of the Torah that describes the celebrations of the holidays throughout the Jewish calendar year.  A similar section appears in Sefer Bamidbar, perakim 28 and 29. Interestingly, the section in Bamidbar focuses on the unique korbanot mussaf brought on each Moed, while the section in Vayikrah focuses on the special rituals and Mitzvot of each holiday. It would seem more logical for the musafim sacrifices to appear in Sefer Vayikrah where it fits into the general theme and development of the sefer. What is the reason for this pattern?

The Ramban answers this question by pointing out practical difference between the audiences of Vayikrah verses that of Bamidbar.   He explains that in Vayikrah, Moshe was speaking to the first generation of Jews who left Mitzrayim and traveled in the midbar. During their travels in the desert, the korbanot mussaf were not offered and therefore there was no need for Moshe to impart the laws of these korbanot to them. However, by chapter 28 in Bamidbar, Moshe is addressing the second generation, those who will enter the land of Israel and be required to offer the Korbanot Mussaf on each holiday.

Perhaps, there is another explanation as well for the text's emphasis on the rituals in Vayikrah as opposed to korbanot. Up until this point in Vayikrah, the primary focus has been the kohanim and the service in the Mishkan. The people completed the building of the Mishkan at the end of Sefer Shemot, and then Vayikrah outlines all the commandments relevant to the service in the Mishkan. However, in Perek 23, the focus of the sefer changes. Now the focus is on the entire nation and daily life outside of the Mishkan. The Mishkan represents Keduashat HaMakom, sanctification of G-d in the sphere of space. The parshat Moadim in Vayikrah focuses not on kedusha of the Mishkan, but rather the celebrations of the holidays that take place in the Jewish home. The Torah is teaching us that sanctity is not only found in a holy place but must emanate and permeate into the daily life of every Jew. The way in which we tap into this Kedusha is through the celebrations of Shabbatot and Moadim. The holidays represent Kedushat HaZman, sanctification of special times in the calendar, thus bringing sanctity into every moment of our life.  The use of the term 'mo'ed' to describe holidays (moadim) and the Mikdash (ohel Moed) further points to a deep connection between these two concepts. After all the commandments pertaining to the Mikdash, kohanim and Korbant; the parshat moadim in parshat Emor introduces a new theme to sefer Vayikrah. We are charged with the challenge to not only make the Mikdash holy, kedushat hamakom, but to bring that Kedushah into our personal lives through the sanctification of the moadim, kedushat HaZman.  

Shabbat Shalom




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