The Book of Vayikra focuses on the korbanos, the sacrificial offerings brought in the Sanctuary and later in the Beis HaMikdash. As explained in Chassidus,1 the Hebrew word for sacrifice קרבן is related to the root קרב meaning "draw close." The sacrifices were not merely ritual acts. On the contrary, they reflected a dynamic process in which man draws close to G‑d, and G‑d draws close to man.

Similar concepts apply with regard to the laws of ritual purity, priestly worship, and the other subjects discussed in this Chumash. Although on the surface, its content appears primarily concerned with laws and regulations, each of those laws has a counterpart in our Divine service.

This perspective also highlights the contemporary relevance of the subjects concerned. For our focus is not only on how the worship was performed in the Sanctuary, but on how these concepts apply in the inner Sanctuary that exists within our hearts. We are concerned not only with the practices observed in the past, but with spiritual dynamics that are eternally present.

In this context, Likkutei Sichos2 serves as an invaluable guide. A collection of the edited talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it probes beneath the surface of the Torah's body of laws and provides for a multidimensional process of understanding.

A Team Effort

The translation of a book of this type requires the involvement of many people. The full list of all those who contributed is too long to mention, but notice should be made of the following: Eliyahu Touger who was responsible for the translation, Gershom Gale who did the editing, Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin who reviewed the sources and checked the authenticity of the translation, Yosef Yitzchok Turner who provided the layout and topography, Uri Kaploun who was always available for counsel and direction, and Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English, who supervised every phase of the project's development.

Making the Future Present

Not only does this text relate to the past and the present, it provides us with beacons pointing to the future. We are not merely looking back to the sacrificial worship that took place in the Sanctuary and the Beis HaMikdash , but we are waiting for and praying for the resumption of that worship with the coming of the Redemption and the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash.

From the beginning of his nesius, the Rebbe saw the mission of our generation as completing all the Divine service required in the era of the exile and preparing for the advent of the Era of the Redemption. And thus in this generation, his explanations of the Book of Vayikra have unique pertinence, for they provide us with a foretaste of the teachings of Mashiach , and enable us to anticipate and precipitate the coming of that future era.

May the study of the Rebbe's teachings encourage us all to take our part in shouldering the mission of spiritual purpose which the Rebbe teaches. And may this in turn lead to overtly apparent good and blessing, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption, and the fulfillment of the prophecy,3 "And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing," with the Rebbe at our head.

Sichos In English

Pesach Sheni, 5756