Weekly Torah portion: Vayikra

Love Yourself as You Would Your Neighbor!

By Rabbi Yaakov Marks

Rabbi Yaakov Marks

SAN DIEGO — The momentous occasion had arrived. After months of dedicated and selfless work, the Mishkan (the portable tabernacle) was completed and assembled. Moshe and all the people stood in awe and trepidation as they watched G-d’s glory descend and rest upon the Mishkan. The nation rejoiced, viewing this as a sign that their repentance had been accepted.

Moshe initially spoke to G-d through the burning bush, then in open conversations, and finally intimately on Mount Sinai. No one was as close to and as knowledgeable about G-d as Moshe. G-d and Moshe communicated whenever and wherever either of them felt the need. Moshe had total faith in G-d’s word and accepted all His commandments with great love and reverence. Yet, even though Moshe had such a close relationship with G-d, he still felt fearful of entering the Mishkan while G-d’s presence rested upon it.

“And He called to Moshe and G-d spoke to him from the tent of meeting.” (Leviticus 1:1) As Moshe stood staring at the Mishkan G-d “called” to him, then “spoke” to him, and then Moshe entered. Why did G-d need to first call to Moshe and then speak to him? Speaking occurs with the use of the voice. Shouldn’t that get Moshe’s attention? Moshe felt very close to G-d, so why did G-d need to call and speak to Moshe to get Moshe to enter the tent of meeting?

The Talmud tells us that G-d is teaching us a very fundamental concept of “Derech Eretz” (Courteous interpersonal relationship). Don’t tell anyone something unless you call to him first. (Yoma 4b) But, aren’t you still telling him what to do? What does calling accomplish?

The commentaries say that calling is a form of showing affection or respect for the person being spoken to. A person is called by his name, and through the use of his name honor is shown, emphasizing that the person is recognized as an individual, that he is cared about. He is called first and then spoken to. This also shows that he is being given time to prepare himself and to get in the frame of mind to listen to what you have to say. You are not suddenly forcing your opinion on him, but showing him that you want him to determine whether he wishes to accept what you have to say.

By teaching this through Moshe, we are shown that even a relationship as close as G-d is to Moshe requires that the person being spoken to is given the proper respect. Even Moshe might have rejected what G-d was saying if not approached properly.

G-d is teaching us to understand that when we speak to someone, first call his name; learn who he really is and what he really wants before we tell him what we want. Listen to him in order to know what he wants and not to simply give your answer. Let the person decide if he wants to accept what you are telling him. This is how a person is spoken to with proper respect and dignity. If G-d acted this way towards Moshe, we should act this way towards all people.

I believe that G-d is also modeling for us how we should talk to ourselves. We would be appalled if we heard someone talking to a person the way we talk to ourselves. How many times have we derided ourselves for making a mistake or for doing something wrong? We are being shown that we need to give ourselves proper respect. Calmly use your name and not a put-down. Recognize who you are and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. What is your why and what personal challenges did G-d give you? Give yourself time to think about what transpired. Think about how you can use this incident to grow. Now you will be in a positive mood and ready to listen to yourself.

When a person gets upset that he ate something unhealthy that he shouldn’t have, that he skipped a workout, or he let someone talk him into eating something that he didn’t want to eat, he needs to act the way that G-d acted with Moshe. In that way, he will listen and learn how to be successful in the future.

May we have the strength to control our reaction to our mistakes. May we have the wisdom to carefully examine our thoughts and motives. May we be blessed with the merit to turn our mistakes into positive learning experiences that generate inner growth.

Rabbi Marks is a certified wellness coach.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 San Diego Jewish World
Please help us defray the costs of providing this free service with your non-tax-deductible contribution in any amount

Most recent 100 posts


Follow this blog

Email address