Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayikra

In his D’var Torah this week, the Chief Rabbi explains why we must invest in our teachers.

The leftovers of the ‘Mincha’ offering were to be given to Aharon and his sons. These were the Kohanim, members of the tribe of Levi.

Now, of course, the Levites worked in the temple, but there were so many of them that as a result, there was a rota system. So, in addition to serving God through sacrificing in the temple, the tribe of Levi became our teachers – the prime educators of the nation. And Hashem here declares that it is important that the people should support the educators, hence, this contribution.

‘Isn’t it fascinating that the tribe of Levi are referred to here as the ‘mighty ones’?’

In Pslam 17, King David tells us, Mimtim Yadcha Hashem Mimtim Meicheled, ‘The mighty ones take from your hand, O Lord’. And the Midrash tells us that this is a reference to the tribe of Levi taking from the hand of Hashem, that is to say, benefiting from these handouts in the temple.

Isn’t it fascinating that the tribe of Levi are referred to here as the ‘mighty ones’? You know, if you went into any Jewish community around the globe and you were to ask people, ‘who are the mighty ones of your Jewish community?’, I think they would refer to perhaps Presidents or Chair Persons, CEO’s, trustees, philanthropists. Would anybody mention the teachers? I doubt it.

‘It’s into the hand of our teachers that we entrust the future of the greatest gift that the Almighty has given to us – our children’

You know, it’s into the hand of our teachers that we entrust the future of the greatest gift that the Almighty has given to us – our children. They are the ones who are moulding and shaping the minds and the hearts of the next generation. So, therefore, surely within our communities, we need to change mind-sets. We need to provide adequate incentives for outstanding young men and women to enter into the teaching profession, to take it on as a vocation through which they can excel in the contribution that they give to the Jewish world and to our society.

‘Mimtim Yadcha Hashem’, in truth, we learn from this week’s Parasha that it is our teachers who are the greatest.

Shabbat Shalom