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Dvar Torah-Eric Zaff (March, 2010)

It's all Greek to me. That is the basic premise of the names of the books of the Torah as they are called by most people in this country. 
Genesis, Exodus, etc. come from Greek. Often, people point out that these names capture the essence of each book more than the Hebrew names. However, to me, the Greek names have always seemed less connected to the true subject of each book than the Hebrew names. Granted, many people see the Hebrew names as just the first word of the book; yet these names seem to get at the essence of the books that they begin. For four of the books, I think the connection is fairly straightforward. Bereshit deals with the beginning of both
 humankind and the Jewish people. Shmot is about identity: God's, B'nei Yisrael's, and the two together. B'midbar is about B'nei Yisrael's
 journey through the wilderness.  Devarim is primarily the words of Moshe to B'nei Yisrael.
The question is, what is the connection between the name, "Vayikra",and the content of the book, since Sefer Vayikra deals primarily with the korbanot that people offer to God?  What is the connection between 'calling out' and korbanot?
The answer begins with the fact that the first phrase of the book seems extraneous. "He called to Moshe. God spoke to him from the Ohel Moed, saying."  Why not just say, "God called to Moshe from the Ohel Moed, saying"? Hirsch asks a similar question and points out that "the Vayikra is attached to, part of, Vayidaber and tells us exactly the manner of the speaking". God is not just speaking to Moshe and B'nei Yisrael. God is 'calling out' to Moshe and B'nei Yisrael.
But what is the nature of this 'calling out'? The book of Vayikra is primarily about the korbanot that B'nei Yisrael offer to God.  While 'korbanot'
is often translated as 'sacrifices', the root of the word is about coming closer.  In the book of Vayikra, God commands that B'nei Yisrael bring korbanot; in other words, God commands B'nei Yisrael to get closer to God. God needs B'nei Yisrael to come closer; God needs us.
According to Heschel, "The incidents recorded in the Bible to the discerning eye are episodes of one great drama: the quest of God for man; His search for man, and man's flight from Him."  God desires people. God needs people. However, we try to keep ourselves away from God.
During Pesach, we will recount how God took us out of Egypt. We will learn about all of the things that God did for us to free us from the slavery of Egypt. We will think about the things that God does for us. Sefer Vayikra reminds us that God needs us too.  We have a responsibility to reciprocate for what God does for us and to try to get closer to God.