Friday, March 23, 2012

Project Genesis Lifeline News from Project Genesis and Volume XIX, Number 23 - Vayikra - Leviticus 1:1-5:26

From HomepageProject Genesis Lifeline 
News from Project Genesis and
Volume XIX, Number 23 - Vayikra - Leviticus 1:1-5:26
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In This Issue:

Note from the Director
Sell Your Chametz on!
Sacrifice -
To Emulate G-d -
New Installments of our Ongoing Classes
This Week's Torah Reading: Vayikra Featured Article: Parshas Vayikra: Absolute Control

Just the first word of this week's Torah reading contains a beautiful lesson. That word is VaYikra, "and he called," referring to G-d calling to Moses. Vayikra indicates a connection between the two parties, whereas without the final Aleph, "Vayikar" is the way that G-d spoke to Bilaam, the evil prophet who tried to curse the Jews (see the Torah Reading "Balak" in the Book of Numbers). The commentator Rashi tells us that "Vayikar" is an off-hand, dismissive call.

When G-d called to Moses, He did so with closeness and endearment, but Moses tried to avoid glorifying himself. He wrote a miniature Aleph, to minimize the distinction between himself and Bilaam. It's obvious that the relationship between G-d and Moses was as different from that between G-d and Bilaam "as the difference between East and West," but even so, Moses didn't want to claim credit. He was truly the most humble person on earth (Numbers 12:3).

How did G-d respond to this extraordinary level of self-effacement? Our Sages teach that Moses' radiance, the light which literally beamed from his face as he descended from Sinai with the second Tablets on Yom Kippur (end of Ki Sisa), was given to Moses in exchange for the ink that he saved by not writing a full-sized Aleph.

So much of the world around us is dedicated to the opposite: to self-glorification and the pursuit of fame and honor. With only a moment's reflection, we realize that that path doesn't lead to happiness, it does not satisfy our souls. "Star" entertainers, whether in sports or performance, seem to as often make headlines for poor lifestyle choices as for their talents. It occurred to me recently that the only President that I can remember who was not tremendously aged by his time in office was Ronald Reagan -- who, as was often pointed out, was quite aged to begin with. For that matter, his famous sense of humor included a knack for self-effacement: "I've already lived about twenty years longer than my life expectancy at the time I was born. That's a source of annoyance to a great many people."

Many operate under the mistaken belief that Judaism is about giving up happiness in this world, in order to get a better next world. This is a classic false dichotomy. Our Torah teaches how to find happiness in the world we live in -- and one of its greatest teachings is the value of being small.

Please share your own thoughts and comments about this topic.

Passover is fast approaching: learn about the upcoming holiday with our articles, and audio lessons at

Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis -
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sell-chometz-onlineSell your Chometz online and benefit Project Genesis! Visit our Online Chometz System and read more about the sale of Chometz on Happy Passover!
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Download for free a 2 minute lecture, Sacrifice, by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky from Yeshivat Darche Noam/Shapells. In this week's Torah portion, Vayikra, Rabbi Karlinsky discusses sacrificing personal materials that are important to us for the sake of serving G-d.

Listen Now, or Free Download

Listen for free to The Ethics of Going Broke, by Rabbi Mordechai Fleisher.

For premium TorahMedia members, listen to The Psychology of Kiruv, by Dr. David Lieberman.
See it at

Question: In Judaism, we are encouraged to emulate G-d in many ways. We rest on Shabbat because G-d rested, seek justice as G-d is just, etc. Can you help me find verses in the Torah that urges us to manifest G-d’s qualities?


Thanks for asking such a great question. I think that your question can be summed up in one verse from the Torah. It says in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:18, “Ve’ahavta l’re’acha kamocha, ani Hashem.” This means, “Love your neighbor as yourself, I am G-d.” This is teaching us, as Rabbi Akiva said, “A great concept in Torah.” Also, this message is that you must love everybody, which is really G-dliness, because every action that G-d does in to us is with great love. Even the things that we think are “bad” or “troublesome” are ultimately for our good. We just don’t understand it because we are human. The point is that when you speak of how we should emulate G-d, the way to think about is that there is a piece of G-d in everyone. Therefore, love everyone (meaning give as much of yourself as you want to be given to) and in that way you will be G-dly. I hope that this example helps. To me this is the message that is the backbone of all Torah.

All the Best,
Rabbi Litt

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