In the course of time, the Jewish People might sin, and thereby forfeit the privilege of living in the Promised Land – but the People, and the Land, once consecrated, are holy forever. They cannot be replaced.
As the book of Vayikra moves towards its finale, several outstanding issues are clarified. A retrospective overview shows us that although it began as a book focused on Temple and ritual, it gradually turned to a discussion of other, more general types of holiness, emphasizing kosher food, “kosher” sexual relationships and, finally, other types of interpersonal relationships. The message seems clear: Ritual and Temple service are not replacements for decency. In order to create a holy society, we must concern ourselves both with the ritual and the interpersonal spheres. These two spheres must work in tandem, in harmony, if we are to create and sustain the society that it is our mandate to create.
In a sense, we may say that the lunar cycle is a metaphor or an expression of our relationship with God: The moon’s light is a reflection of the sun; it has no luminescence of its own. Thus, the power of the Jewish court to determine when the holidays will be celebrated is a reflection, as it were, of God’s mastery of time, space and matter.
During a particularly difficult battle in southern Lebanon, Major Klein detected a grenade that had beenhurled at his Golani troops. He lunged for it, smothering it with his body, and screamed for his soldiers to take cover. And then, like Rabbi Akiva, and like so many martyrs throughout our history,he calmly but with intense conviction said the Shma