Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Vayikra) Blessings!

The title of this week’s portion is Vayikra. Vayikra means, “and He called” – referring to G-d calling Moshe to speak with him.

Our Sages inform us that the word Vayikra is a term infused with love. G-d spoke to His faithful servant Moshe with warmth and admiration.

Our leader Moshe attained a level of prophecy higher than any other human being, and G-d would communicate with Moshe at any given time, yet Moshe never took this level for granted, as we see that G-d called to Moshe. Moshe with his unassuming nature stood on the sidelines and only came forward when he was specifically called by G-d.

Basic human nature is that we get used to our conditions and easily overlook and miss the greatest gifts and miracles that are before us all the time.

The more spiritually sensitive one is, the more one becomes aware and appreciates the constant gifts and miracles he receives from G-d.

Our daily prayers, and the blessings we recite over food, give us the opportunity to take pause and recognize the Source of our life, our functions and our sustenance. When we grab a banana, a cracker, a drink, a candy or a fruit in the middle of the day, instead of immediately and inattentively gobbling it down, we give pause to focus on the appropriate blessing to recite and then we recite the blessing thanking G-d for availing it to us.

I once read an article written by a top surgeon who confessed that he had always mocked, berated and joked at the blessing we recite after relieving ourselves in the bathroom, until his son was hospitalized with a bowel obstruction. He watched as his son went through agonizing and excruciating pain until finally after long hours he was able to relieve himself. He immediately grabbed a prayer book and together with his son emotionally and appreciatively recited the Ashair Yatzar prayer, and since then he has been diligent in doing so. There is a need to reflect and appreciate each time we exercise this basic and miraculous function.

We have five basic senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. Rabainu Bachaya, a great Kabalist, points out something very interesting. Without us even noticing, each one of our fingers on our hand relates to a particular sense. Taste: We clean our mouth with the thumb. Smell: The index finger is used to clean the nose. Touch: We utilize the middle longest finger to feel. Sight: We rub our eyes with the ring finger. Hearing: We clean our ears with the pinky.

We all become mesmerized with the latest technology and gadgets. But there is nothing more miraculous and complex than our eyes, the cameras and surveillance systems of our bodies; the sound systems of our ears; the sensation and dexterity of the human touch; the delicious tastes that we enjoy, and the magnificent aromas that we smell.

For each of these functions there are blessings that we recite. For example when we witness, hear or partake of a particular experience, such as lightning, thunder, trees in blossom, aromatic spices, food, and the performance of Mitzvos.

One may ask: There are no blessings recited about personal relationships such as respecting and revering our parents, or preserving Shalom Bayis – a peaceful home with our spouse and family. What reminds us to appreciate and not overlook all of these blessings and gifts?

Perhaps through actively appreciating all the other gifts of life, we spontaneously develop within us the capacity to be grateful, respectful and thankful towards our parents, who partnered with G-d in bringing us into the world, and towards our spouses with whom we establish our home in which our Sages tell us that when there is Shalom – peace and harmony – G-d’s Shechina and Presence is evident and welcome, and great blessings are felt and experienced.

The way to accomplish this ideal of Shalom, is by emulating the way G-d called to Moshe – with love, care and affection, and by following Moshe’s humble, devoted and respectful manner and conduct.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks