The Pure – Parashat Vayikra

March 13, 2018 at 1:37 AM , ,

“…Why do schoolchildren begin their learning with Toras Kohanim (the Book of Vayikra) and not with Beraishis? Since the children are pure and the sacrifices are pure, let the pure come and deal with the pure…” – Vayikra Rabbah 7:3

מפני מה מתחילין לתינוקות בתורת כהנים, ואין מתחילין בבראשית? אלא שהתינוקות טהורין והקרבנות טהורין, יבואו טהורין ויתעסקו בטהורין – ויקרא רבה ז, ג

The only time that the Torah classifies sacrifices as “the pure” is in reference to the sacrifices offered by Noach when he was saved from the flood: “And Noach built an altar to G-d, and he took of all the pure animals and of all the pure fowl and brought up burnt offerings on the altar” (Beraishis 8:20). Rashi (on Beraishis 7:2) observes that the pure animals referred to there are the kosher animals, “that are destined to be pure for Israel.”

The Pure

Noach’s sacrifices predated not only G-d’s command to the Jewish people to distinguish “between the impure and the pure” (Vayikra 11:27) and observe a Kosher diet, but also the era of the Patriarchs, of whom our Sages say (Kiddushin 82a), “they observed the entire Torah even before it was given.” Hence, the Midrash’s reference to the sacrifices as “the pure,” (“let the pure come and deal with the pure”,) calls attention to an aspect of the sacrifices that utterly “precedes” the observance of the Torah. Namely, their ability to reveal G-d’s essential love for the Jewish people, a connection that precedes and transcends even the bond with G-d achieved through the observance of His Torah.

This explains why Jewish schoolchildren begin their studies with Vayikra. At this young age, children are not obligated in the observance of the Torah, nor are they even old enough for training in mitzvah observance. Their early reading of the Torah’s words is therefore emblematic of the Jew’s inherent connection to G-d and His Torah, which transcends even the observance and actual study of the Torah’s laws. As the sacrifices, too, reflect the Jewish people’s pure and inviolable relationship with G-d, it is most appropriate that “the pure come and deal with the pure.”

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 22, pp. 1-6


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