Week of 17-23 March 2024

Torah portion : Lev. 1 :1 – 5 : 26, Haftarah: 1 Sam. 15:2-15:34

Theme: The everlasting covenant of salt

The words issued from the mouth of the Lord are unfathomable blessings from the creator for it is a sign that he did not leave us alone floating in the air after He created us.  Lev. 1:1 ” The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting” is a testament to it. Not only did he communicate with us with his voice, but also, he appointed a place where to go. This is a very personal gesture that we should not even expect as a lowly being created, because he already created everything that we need before creating us (according to the first Creation story), but because He loves us so much he chose to manifest Himself unto us, showering us with unfathomable affection as attested by Rashi: ” it was a way of expressing affection, the mode used by angels when addressing each other…” knowing this endearment was used by angels, one can only be acclaimed to oneself “who am I that the Lord calls my (personal) name?” On the other hand, the delimitation of the place or space denotes the intimate desire of the Lord to communicate with us, even when we don’t want to. this is clarified by the words of Rashi when he commented: “Go and speak to them words that will bring them to a subdued frame of mind”. Even when we wrong our neighbor, our self, and our nature which is naturally inclined to the creator, does the good the Lord choose to punish us gently. Apart from that, we may find puzzling Lev. 2:11 “Every grain offering that you present to the Lord shall be unleavened, for you shall not burn any leaven or honey as an oblation to the Lord.” to this Ramban deduced that: “It is possible that the reason why we are forbidden to bring leaven and honey… that the customs of the idolaters was to offer all their meal-offerings only in leavened form, and to season all their sacrifices with honey; therefore He forbade bringing them on His altar.” Therefore, it is for us to differentiate what is holy and what is not. And in a universal sense for us to distinguish ourselves from the unholiness of this world or to distinguish the goodness of our Lord and our neighbor.

One may find an echo of the Gospel, of the command to be the salt of the earth in Lev. 2: 13 “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not let the salt of the covenant with your God be lacking from your grain offering. On every offering, you shall offer salt”. Ramban explains that it signifies: “for a covenant was established with salt as far back as the six days of creation…” and to this we mix salt with our offering.  And “just like salt which seasons all food and helps to preserve them but destroys them when they are over saturated with it.” Therefore, one need not be selfish while living on the face of the earth and while receiving the good news, for doing so will only destroy oneself, and to avoid it, one must share the goodness of the LORD (the good news) so that it brings more fruit rather than self-destruction. 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1) Am I selfish with what I received from the LORD? 2) Am I able to distinguish what belongs to LORD? 3) Am I able to hear the voice and the invitation when the LORD calls me?

Bibliography: The Catholic Study Bible 3rd ed. New American Bible Rev. Ed. (2016) Oxford University Press and   Pentateuch with Rashi’s Commentary, Hebrew Pub. Comp. New York 1974 and Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos, Haphtaroth, and Rashi’s commentary translated into English, Silbermann et al, Jerusalem 1932

This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Jefferson Philip Jacob Reyes, France, Bat Kol Alumna/Alumnus: 2019


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