Parasha Insight by Rabbi Eli Mansour

The Manufacturer's Instructions

The majority of Sefer Vayikra deals with the difficult topics of sacrifices and Tum'a (ritual impurity), laws that have practical application only when the Temple stands.  Surprisingly, we have a tradition that the first section of the Torah that school children should be taught is the Book of Vayikra.  The Sages remark, "Let the pure ones come and study matters of purity."  Meaning, it is appropriate for the pure, innocent schoolchildren to begin their study of Torah with the subjects of Vayikra, which involve the purity of the Beit Hamikdash (Temple) and the sacrifices. 

Logically, we would have likely advised that Sefer Vayikra be the last of the five books of the Torah that schoolchildren should study.  How can a young child appreciate the ritual slaughtering of animals as sacrifices, the collection of the blood in receptacles and its sprinkling on the altar?  At first glance, it would seem that a school child's introduction to Torah should begin with the Book of Bereishit, which tells the inspiring stories of our patriarchs, rather than with the technical and esoteric laws of Sefer Vayikra. 

One Rabbi explained this tradition by way of an analogy to a man who was ignorant about automobiles and purchased his first car.  He drove the car happily for a number of weeks until one day it stopped moving.  Frustrated, he called the manufacturer and claimed that the car was defective.  The manufacturer told him to check the gasoline indicator in the car, and it turned out that the car had run out of fuel.  And so, the manufacturer explained to the man that he must go to a gas station, purchase some gasoline, and put it into his car to make it work again. 

The man went to the gas station and saw gasoline for the first time.  He angrily called back the manufacturer and said, "This putrid substance will make my car work?  I don't want to put this stuff in my brand-new car!" 

The manufacturer patiently explained, "Look, I'm the manufacturer; I made this car, and I know how it works far better than you do.  Loathsome as gasoline is, you can trust me – who made the car – that it will make the car run." 

The same is true regarding the human spirit.  The Almighty created us; He made the human soul, and He knows far better than anybody else what is most beneficial in nurturing the soul.  If our religious tradition teaches us that children benefit the most from first being exposed to Sefer Vayikra, then difficult as it may be for us to understand how this could be, we must accept and follow the instructions of the "manufacturer."  He created the soul, and therefore He knows best how to properly nurture it. 

This same message can be extended to all the Mitzvot.  We often do not understand the spiritual value of a given Halacha, and at times a law or obligation might strike us as odd.  It is important to remember to trust G-d, the "manufacturer," who created the human being and knows far better than we ever will how to best care for our souls.


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Mon, March 19 2018 3 Nisan 5778