Watch: a short lesson by Reb Yoel Kahn on Parshas Vayikra and Purim with English subtitles and transcript.
Watch a short lesson by Reb Yoel Kahn on Parshas Vayikra and Purim with English subtitles and transcript.
Scroll down for the English transcript.
The Shaloh states that the parshah of the week is connected to the time of year when it is read. It follows that since Parshas Vayikra is often read in proximity to Purim, there must be an association between the two.
Where do we see an allusion to Purim in this parshah?
Parshas Vayikra begins with the verse, “[Hashem] called Moshe, and He spoke to him.” Rashi explains that this teaches us that each communication of Hashem to Moshe was preceded by a kriah, a calling of affection. This is contrast to the gentile prophets, where instead of the word ויקרא (which denotes affection), the word ויקר is used, which indicates impurity (as it is similar to the word קרי).
The fact that Rashi finds it necessary to exclude the gentile prophets from these affectionate expressions implies that otherwise, we might have assumed they would receive such calls. But why would we even entertain the idea that they would deserve this?
What’s the Goal—Calling or Speaking?
This question is even stronger once we appreciate the greatness of these calls.
There are two ways to explain why one would call someone before speaking to him:
- As a measure of courtesy, before speaking to someone, one calls him first. From this perspective, the goal is the actual communication; the calling is just an introduction, and is therefore on a lower level than the actual communication.
- The calling is an expression of affection (as Rashi states here). Here, the calling is actually on a higher level than the subsequent communication; the calling precedes it not only in time, but also in value. (The only reason it is conveyed before communicating and not at some other time is because there needs to be a reason to call; you can’t simply call someone, unless you’re planning to speak to him.)
[This can help us understand a further statement of Rashi. Rashi explains that the calls of affection only preceded the communications, but not the intervals between communications. Rashi than continues: “Why were the communications interrupted with intervals? To give Moshe time to reflect between one section and the next.”
Now, the possuk here is describing the communication of Hashem to Moshe, which was preceded by a call of affection; the possuk is not discussing the intervals. That being the case, why does Rashi deem it important to tell us now the purpose of the intervals? This doesn’t seem to be relevant to our verse!
Based on the above, we can understand the relevance of this explanation:
If we were to say that the intervals were also preceded by calls, then we might have explained the necessity of these intervals differently: since you can’t call someone without a reason, Hashem integrated these intervals to create additional opportunities to call Moshe. But now that we know that only the communication was preceded by calls, not the intervals, the question arises: what was the purpose of the intervals? Rashi therefore explains that it was to give Moshe time to reflect between each section.]
Higher than Torah
At any rate, from all this we see the greatness of these calls. The instructions Hashem conveyed to Moshe were words of Torah, while the calls were on a higher level—in other words, they were higher than Torah!
If so, why would we even think that a gentile would receive such calls? Non-Jews may not even study Torah; they are certainly very distant from these calls, which even precede Torah!
The name of a parshah expresses the content of each part of the parshah. This is especially so regarding the end of the parshah (as we know that an entity’s beginning and end are intertwined). It follows that the end of Parshas Vayikra must somehow be associated with the word vayikra.
Now, the end of the parshah discusses someone who is deceitful and swears falsely. What type of relation can such a person have to the calling of affection mentioned at the beginning of the parshah?!
The Tikunei Zohar states that Yom Kippur and Purim are interrelated (as hinted to in the name Yom Hakippurim—ki’Purim, like Purim). One of the themes both dates have in common is the concept of goral, lots. On Yom Kippur, a goral was made to determine which goat would be sacrificed for Hashem and which one would be sent to azazel, and the name Purim itself denotes casting lots—the goral Haman made to decide which day to carry out his evil plan.
When is it necessary to cast lots? When a person is faced with a choice between two items, one of which is better than the other, there is no need for a goral. Of course, he will select the item with greater value. It is only when both items are equal that there is a need for a goral. This is true if both items are intrinsically equal, or even if they differ, but their distinct qualities have no relevance to the person selecting, due to his present state of being.
The same applies with Hashem and Bnei Yisroel. On a lower level, where Hashem limits Himself to a position where our actions carry significance, it is obvious that He will grant blessings to Bnei Yisroel, because they have qualities that gentiles lack. (The Rebbe often said, “The worst of poshei Yisroel [sinners] possesses qualities that even righteous gentiles do not have.”) In such a state, there is no need for a goral.
However, there may be a situation where the value of a Jew over a gentile is not readily apparent (either because of the Jew’s improper conduct, or because he is being viewed from a higher level Above, where our actions are irrelevant). In such a case, a goral is necessary.
It’s not Just About Our Qualities
When a relationship is based on logic, the person’s feelings will depend on the other’s qualities. If his colleague possesses positive qualities, he will admire him; if he is corrupt, he will dislike him.
But then you have the relationship between a parent and a child. The parent’s love of the child is intrinsic, and exists regardless of the type of behavior the child displays. This applies in the other direction as well: the child loves the parent not because of his qualities, but because he is his parent.
Similarly, Hashem is our Father and we are His children, and our love does not depend on the qualities we see in each other. Therefore, even if “Eisav is Yaakov’s brother”—they both appear the same, “I love Yaakov and despise Eisav”—Hashem will never replace His nation with another.
This is why both Yom Kippur and Purim are related to goral. The idea of Yom Kippur is to effect atonement even for a Jew who has sinned and seems no different from a non-Jew. Similarly, although the Jews sinned by bowing to the image erected by Nevuchadnetzar and enjoying Achashverosh’s feast, the deep love of Hashem to Bnei Yisroel was unaffected.
Ad Delo Yada
This idea is alluded to in Parshas Vayikra.
Of course, the Torah is not associated with non-Jews; that is self-evident. However, the call of affection (vayikra) precedes and is higher than Torah. On such a level, the qualities of a Jew are insignificant, and he and a non-Jew appear equal. If so, perhaps this call would be granted to a non-Jewish prophet as well?
This is why Rashi finds it necessary to tell us that no—although we are dealing with a level that is beyond calculations and limitations, Hashem’s love for us shines through regardless.
This ties in to the end of the parshah, which discusses a Jew who has sworn falsely. Eventually, the inner essence of even such a Jew is revealed, and his unwavering love to Hashem comes to the fore. This, in turn, initiates a call of affection from Above—Hashem’s inherent love to him.
This last point—the inherent love of Hashem that exists even within someone who has sinned—is also associated with Purim.
Chazal instituted that we must thank Hashem for the Purim miracle by “becoming intoxicated ad delo yada, until one does not know the difference between ‘Cursed is Haman’ and ‘Blessed is Mordechai.’” This appears to be completely illogical. How is this supposed to be a way of thanking Hashem for Haman’s downfall and Mordechai’s triumph? If someone is so intoxicated that he can say the word ‘cursed’ with Mordechai and ‘blessed’ with Haman, it’s not a Purim celebration; it’s plain drunkenness!
Chazal don’t mean that one should curse and bless the wrong individuals, chas veshalom. Of course, one resolves that “Cursed is Haman”—to refrain from evil—and “Blessed is Mordechai”—to fulfill all of the mitzvos.
However, why is he resolving to do this? He may be on a level where he does not despise evil nor appreciate good; he does not understand (lo yada) the difference between them. Nevertheless, he resolves to curse Haman and bless Mordechai “ad delo yada,” in a way that is beyond logic. His inner love of Hashem is revealed, a level where even he devotes himself to Hashem and is deserving of a call of affection.
For further study, see Likkutei Sichos, vol. 7, pp. 20ff. Maamar d”h Al ken, Purim 5713.