Monday, April 22, 2013

369 - Vayikra

Sefer Vayikra begins, "He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Ohel Moed saying" (Vayikra 1, 1). Rashi explains that the numerous times that Hashem spoke to Moshe or commanded him, were all prefaced by a "calling" i.e. a manner of speech that expresses affection. Rashi continues with a most interesting statement of Chazal: "One might think that even the breaks (between the parshios) were prefaced by a special calling; therefore, the Torah writes, 'and Hashem spoke to him' which implies that only Hashem's speech was prefaced by a calling and not the breaks. And what purpose did these breaks serve? They were there to enable [Moshe] to contemplate between the parshios and between the topics. How much more so must a simple person learning from a simple person [take time to contemplate between parshios and topics]."

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) comments that from the fact that Chazal even entertained the possibility that a special calling prefaced each break in the Torah, proves that the breaks themselves are an integral facet of Torah. They too are Torah because they were put there to enable one who studies the Torah to take some time to contemplate, understand, and incorporate that which he has just learned. However, since it differs from the rest of the Torah, it didn't necessitate a calling.

Chazal stressed the importance of these breaks by concluding, "How much more so must a simple person learning from a simple person [take time to contemplate between parshios and topics]." If we would appreciate the significance of these breaks, then everything we learn would take on an entirely new appearance. Understandably, our limud haTorah would be more meaningful and on a much greater level.

Moreover, this idea is the rationale behind bein ha'zmanim (the vacation break given in Yeshivos and schools during Nissan, Av and Tishrei). These intermediate days were specifically designated as days that are free from the regular learning schedule to allow a person to contemplate what he has gained during the past months and prepare himself accordingly for the future months. Cognizance of the purpose behind bein ha'zmanim, has the ability to prevent many of the problems that people encounter during this period.

There is no better time than the month of Nissan in general and the Yom Tov of Pesach in particular, to spend a few minutes taking stock of our spiritual state of affairs. How did we grow in the past few months? What have we done that we should continue doing, and what calls for a change? What am I going to do to ensure that the next few months look better than the past few months? Torah study is imperative, but the breaks are also important!

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