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Vayikra 5770 — God Calling

" J0422199 And God called to Moses "

Rashi, the medieval rabbinic commentator par excellence, brings two interesting teachings about this phrase, which opens this week's Torah reading:

1) When the Torah says God "called" to someone, it is language of affection, as we see exemplified by Isaiah who quotes the angels "and they called to one another, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts."

2) Rashi also says that "the voice traveled and reached Moses' ear, but all Israel did not hear."  In other words, when God was calling Moses, only Moses heard the calling.

God calls to each of us, in a unique way.  God called to Abraham, from a mountain.  God visited Jacob in a dream.  God called Moses from a burning bush, and in this week's parsha at the Tent of Meeting.  Ezekiel's calling came in a wild vision, Elijah's in still small voice. 

God calls to each of us: there is a reason we were put here, and God calls to us, asking us to fulfill our mission, to accomplish our work, to do our task, to help with the project of making this world a better place.

But doesn't everyone who acts in the name of religion think that God is calling them to do so?  Doesn't the suicide bomber think he is answering a call from God?

The first Rashi comment says calling is language of affection.  God calls to us in love.  God doesn't call to us in hate, and doesn't call on us to kill.  It is interesting to note, that in Exodus chapter 17, when Amalek comes to attack, God doesn't call Moses to go to war.  The war — both the start and the initial response — are human initiatives.  The Torah does show God taking sides — but God didn't call on us to start a war.

God didn't give us the world to destroy it, and he didn't create people for us to destroy each other.  Seems pretty simple.  We're all God's children, and I'm quite certain that what God calls on us to do is to find a way to get along and love one another.  We are partners with God in creation, responsible for helping God with the perfection of the world.

And as God called to Moses and the prophets, God also calls to each of us, asking us to fulfill our role.  Sometimes we don't hear it, sometimes we don't recognize God calling us:

In Samuel I, chapter 3, God calls to the prophet Samuel, and Samuel fails to recognize the call:

That the Lord called Samuel; and he answered, Here am I.  And he ran to Eli, and said, Here am I; for you called me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for you did call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. And Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.

God is calling to you to.  Are you like Moses, responding to the call?  Or like the young Samuel, not even recognizing it when God does call?

Shabbat shalom,

Reb Barry

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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