And He called to Moses…. [Vayika 1:1]

On only three occasions does the Torah speak of a ‘call’ to Moses and each involves a summons to perform a momentous act. The first call came at the burning bush. Moses is shepherding the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, and he and he alights at Mount Horeb (Sinai.) There he sees a bush on fire, but the fire doesn’t seem to consume the bush. Puzzled by this paradoxical phenomenon, Moses approaches the bush to investigate. It is then he receives his first ‘call.’ 

 G-d called out to Moses from within the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses’ and he answered, ‘here I am.’ And He said, ‘Don’t come any closer…’

Then G-d goes on to tell Moses about his historic mission to take the Israelites out of Egypt.

The second call took place at Mt Sinai just before the Torah was revealed to him. The Children of Israel have encamped around the mountain. Moses begins his ascent. Then:

“The L-d called to him from the mountain saying, ‘So shall you say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel.’” The ‘call’ to transmit the Torah to the Jewish people is to begin.

The third call occurs here, at the beginning of our portion, as Moses is about to be introduced to the commands dealing with the laws of sacrifices in the Tabernacle.

In his commentary, Rabbi Elie Munk (father of Lady Jakobovits) explains that because of his humility Moses never automatically assumed that he would be eligible to assume these roles. G-d had to summon or ‘call’ him to undertake these tasks. Indeed, according to some commentators, Moses wrote the word Vayikra with a small aleph at the end to signify, even at this stage in his life, his sense of unworthiness and modesty.

In the bewildering and unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves during this coronavirus, we too, are being called. Like Moses at the burning bush we are being called ‘not to come closer.’ Like Moses at Mount Sinai, we are being given regulations that are transforming our lives. And like Moses at the Tabernacle, we are being called upon to make sacrifices. In the many conversations I have been having across the community, I have been struck by the courage that our community is displaying is rising to these ‘calls’ and their willingness they have to offer any help they can to others. May G-d protect us all and grant healing to those who are sick, whoever, and wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom.