The Parsha in Chesed: Vayikra - The Pulse on the Finger

The finger has a very important place in Judaism in general, and in this parsha, in particular.

Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal ,

Pointing finger
Pointing finger
iStock

The finger has a very important place in Judaism in general, and in this parsha, in particular.

A key step in the process of bringing korbonot (sacrifices) was the sprinkling of blood on the mizbeach (altar). That sprinkling of blood, done by finger, was to bring home to the petitioner that, in fact, it is his blood that should be offered and he was receiving atonement through the sacrifice.

There are others aspects of the service in the Beit HaMikdash that involve various fingers.

The plagues of Egypt were referred to as being carried out by “the finger of G-d”. When we recite the list of the plagues during the Pesach seder, we spill wine from our cup with our finger to express that it is not proper to rejoice in the suffering of anyone, even our enemies.

As children, many of us fell asleep finding safety and comfort by sucking our thumb. We are born with our very own calculator with five digits on each hand.

The fingers can stir the soul by plucking on the strings of a guitar or by tickling the keys on the piano. A conductor’s finger melds diverse instruments into a symphony orchestra.

“Thumbs up” conveys approval to another and in some places extending the thumb or finger can even stop a moving vehicle. With their finger, a traffic officer can facilitate smooth travel and prevent accidents.

Through skilled fingers, the seamstress weaves, the artist paints, and the surgeon saves lives. Marriage begins by placing a ring on a finger.

The finger holds amazing potential for so much good.

And yet, the finger can have darker sides as well.

Blaming others is called “pointing a finger”. In that case one best heed the words of attorney Louis Nizer: “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”

The upward extension of a particular finger is the ultimate insult and “tell off”.

A bullet can kill through a finger’s pull of the trigger.

During the nightmare of the Holocaust, millions were sent to their death through the pointing of a finger.

As is the case with most things, it is up to us to dictate what we can accomplish with the gifts that God bestows upon us..

The fingers are the extension of a hand used to help another. Your finger dials the phone number of a friend who could use a quick hello or call emergency services when needed.

Our fingers conveniently fit into our ear to block out those things that we shouldn’t hear.

For parents and educators, the index finger is a powerful tool of recognition and acknowledgment.

How many times does our child or student interrupt us as we are speaking or teaching. The natural inclination is to ignore the interrupter until he or she (or their interruption) “goes away”.

By signaling with your index finger extended up, you send the message to your child or student that you acknowledge them and what they want/need, but to please wait a second/minute until you have finished speaking. One can’t underestimate how empowering that simple gesture is.

People are very much like fingers. No two are the same, yet all are important.

And just like fingers, there is so much more strength when we work together to accomplish great things.

Shabbat Shalom

“Every man's life is a story written by God's “Fingers” (Hans Christian Andersen)

Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal is the executive director at Lema'an Achai



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