Jewish etiquette – and law – teach that one should not enter one’s own home, how much more so the home of someone else, without knocking first (Pesachim 112a). One does not just barge in, even to one’s own home. “Knocking” first is one of the many ways we learn from and even imitate G-d.

“And He called unto Moshe and spoke to him” (Vayikra 1:1). While the Torah generally introduces G-d’s communication to Moshe with a simple Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe leimor, and G-d spoke to Moshe to say over, Rashi notes that G-d would first call Moshe letting him know He wanted to speak with him, before actually saying what He wanted, giving Moshe time to prepare for a divine encounter.

Vayikra calling, is Rashi notes, a lashon chiba, a term of endearment expressing G-d’s love of the Jewish people in general and Moshe in particular[1]. Vayikra el Moshe is the template for the manner in which G-d always spoke to Moshe. One does not just issue a command to whom one loves. Rather one might begin with “Honey, can I ask you something”? Only after calling out to Moshe would G-d issue a command.

It is noteworthy that the Torah waits until sefer Vayikra to teach this idea. The central theme of the book is about becoming close to G-d. Breisheet details the need for and the choosing of those who would found the Jewish nation. Shemot is the book the details the formation of that nation. And sefer Vayikra teaches how we can come close to G-d, the ultimate leader of our nation.

Vayikra begins with the laws of korbanot – a korban being little more than a way to come closer to G-d. Well actually it begins with an expression of love – the pre-requisite of any meaningful relationship. It details the laws of tumah and tahara, purity and impurity, tumah caused by exposure to death and tahara the affirmation of life immersing in a mikvah full of water, the pre-requisite of life. Those aspects that further man from G-d – from excessive drinking to sexual immorality – are detailed. So too is the process of atonement for the people carried out each Yom Kippur. It is not by chance that the actual dedication ceremony of the Mishkan is detailed in Vayikra.

With the opening message of the Torah that man is created in the image of G-d - that every mitzva between man and G-d has a corollary between man and man – sefer Vayikra contains the most important chapter of the Torah (see Rashi 19:2), that which focuses on our relationship with our fellow man. Commands include not to gossip, nor take revenge, or withhold the wages of one’s employee culminating with the mitzva to love our neighbour as ourselves. These are the mitzvot that follow on the heel of G-d's command "to be holy, for I the Lord your G-d is holy" (Vayikra 19:2)

Interestingly, the book does not end here. With G-d’s dwelling place centered in Jerusalem, the closer one is to Jerusalem the easier it is to become close to Him. As the book draws to a close we are introduced to the laws of Shmitta and Yovel and the levels of holiness of walled and unwalled cities (something which are reminded of on Purim).

But G-d’s – and hence our – love is not limited to the Jewish people. “Adam ki yakriv ,when one brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice”. 

Sacrifices may be offered by Jew and non-Jew alike. One just need be an adam a human being to come closer to G-d and man. “I will bring them to My sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be welcome on My altar; For My House shall be called A house of prayer for all peoples” (Yishayahu 56:7) .Amazingly, the Rambam, no fan of idolatry, goes so far as to rule that even an idol worshiper may offer a sacrifice at the Temple (Maaseh Korbanot 3:2).

Sadly, thousands of years of anti-semitism, have forced us to downplay the universal aspect of Judaism. May we soon see the day that Jew and non-Jew will pray together in peace in Jerusalem and beyond.

[1] For a discussion of how each of the five books of the Torah begien by expressing G-d's love of man see here