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Parashat VaYikra- Hard Work is Good

The Midrash observes that in the Torah’s account of the creation of light in Parashat Bereshit, the word "Or" ("light") appears five times. These five instances of the word "Or," the Midrash comments, correspond to the five books of the Torah. The Torah is our source of "light," giving us the knowledge and perspective we need in order to live our lives properly, the way G-d wants us to live. Appropriately, then, the word "Or" in the story of creation alludes to the Torah, the "light" which guides us each and every moment of our lives.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 1902-1994) noted that if, indeed, the five instances of "Or" in the creation story correspond to the five books of the Humash, then we should assume that each instance has a specific connection to the corresponding book. This would mean that the third instance of the word "Or" is particularly relevant to the third book of the Humash, which we begin reading this week – the Book of Vayikra.

The third time the word "Or" is mentioned is in the verse, "Va’yar Elokim Et Ha’or Ki Tob" – "G-d saw that the light was good" (Bereshit 1:4). The description of light as "good," the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained, is especially appropriate for the Book of Vayikra. This book is, without question, the most technical and most difficult of all the books of the Humash. Unlike the other books, there is hardly any narrative in Vayikra, as it contains mainly laws. And not only does it consist mainly of laws – but the laws it presents are the most complex and intricate, involving the procedure for offering the sacrifices and the laws of Tum’a and Tahara (impurity and purity). Precisely for this reason, the Book of Vayikra is "good." The Zohar teaches that hard work and effort in the study of Torah is especially beneficial and brings great blessing. The Book of Vayikra can be studied only with hard work and exertion. The material is technical, complicated and involved, and it can be understood only through patient, diligent study. And so the "light" of the Book of Vayikra is "good" – because while the study of any part of Torah is valuable and precious, the study of this book, which requires a great deal of work and effort, is especially precious.

We live at a time when comfort and convenience are placed on a pedestal, when we are led to believe that the easier something is, the better. From a Torah perspective, however, this is not the case. The Torah teaches us that the most valuable things in life are acquired through hard work and diligence. In order to reach meaningful and important achievements, we need to put in the work. Hard work is "good," and is what brings us the "light" we need to live properly and make the very most out of the short time we are given here in this world.

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