Pesach is calling – Vayikra/Hachodesh


In preparation for Pesach we read the Parsha where we are commanded to go and buy a lamb for the Korban Pesach and the rest of its Halachos. This Parsha begins Hachodesh Haze Lochem Rosh Chadashim. We might wonder what is the connection between the opening line and the rest of the story here. Yes this is the date this was said, but how is the preface declaring this the beginning of the months relevant to the entire Korban Pesach.

Vayikara El Moshe, (as Rashi elaborates), more than a technical call for Moshe to come to hear the voice of God in the Ohel Moed, this represents the deeper connection Moshe had with God. Had the point of the commands been just to let us know the technical details, how many ounces of blood to sprinkle, how many Kzaysim of meat to eat, etc. there would be no need for a call. God would just chance upon Moshe and let him know whatever there is to know. The call sows us is a two sided relationship which leads to these laws. First I am calling you, you pick up the call, this puts us two on the same line.

Furthermore, the call says God needs Moshe to answer, and had he not answered, there would be no law. This makes Moshe an equal partner in the law. This isn’t God chancing upon humans, dropping one sided commands unto them from above. There is dialogue, and it is only within this dialogue that the law has a meaning. If not for Vayikra, the korbanos would signify nothing.

When we go to the shop and buy a lamb for the Korban Pesach, make sure it conforms to all the laws and regulations spelled out in this parsha. Or in our way today, going through all the required preparations for Pesach, we need to first establish the relationship in which this occurs. Who is doing what for whom. Only by knowing this can Pesach have any meaning.

The call that establishes this contact is Hachodesh Haze Lochem. As a community, as a people, we need a yearly renewal to create meaning into the yearly cycle. Establishing this month as the beginning creates the context into which the celebration of Pesach can be placed. This isn’t an individual project, the first thing Moshe says about the Korban Pesach is if you don’t have enough in your household for a lamb, pair up with your neighbor, with those close to us. It is this bond between the people, and between them and God, that gets renewed every spring.

Nowadays, when no sacrifices exist, neither Pesach nor all year, and the myriad details of Hilchos Korbanos are foreign to us, the call still echoes with us. The voice, which only we can hear, still calls us to the sanctuary for a private audience with God. It still calls us to our friends and neighbors to establish the yearly renewal, to rekindle friendships, to establish a new and better world.