As we begin the third of the five books in the Torah, we find that Hashem calls out to Moshe before instructing him, with the word “Vayikra”. Typically, however, when Hashem speaks to Moshe it simply says “Vayidaber”, yet here it says both words- that He called out AND that He spoke to him (1:1). Even in general, this is the last of only three times that the Hashem ever “called out” to Moshe.
As Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch points out, the other 2 verses are during monumental occasions of Moshe’s leadership. The first time Hashem “called out” to Moshe was when He first spoke to him at the burning bush (Shemot 3:4). The second was at Mount Sinai, in order to present the Ten commandments (Shemot 19:3). Both were obviously outstanding moments in Jewish history, but they represent different paradigms of connecting to Gd. While Mount Sinai was an ecstatic, ostentatious scene of shofar blasts, lightning, and a mountain ablaze with fire, the burning bush was quiet, subdued and peculiar, in the middle of an unattended desert. The message of these two extremes is somewhat clear: that our encounters with Hashem sometimes occur out of despair and desolation, and also at times of excitement and jubilation. But then we have our parsha- the third time Hashem “called out” to Moshe. Building upon Rav Hirsch’s analysis, the Mishkan created a new paradigm: a constant presence of Hashem at all times. It maintained His presence during the status quo, and also the ability to maintain it after a given sin- as the Ramban points out in his introduction this week.
In some ways, it’s easier to feel connected to Hashem at our low points (in the proverbial “foxhole”) and at our high points (with gratitude, and humility). This last time, however, demonstrates for us the most difficult time to connect to G-d, particularly when nothing extraordinary is happening. Creating a constant connection is the essence of living a life with a mishkan. In just two weeks we’ll be starting our personal 49-day journey of Sefirat HaOmer from Pesach to Shavuot. While we progress from first connecting to Hashem in the depths of Egypt, and then through the lofty moment of receiving the Torah, let us keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to simply experience Gd in the extremes. The goal is that afterwards we can maintain that connection on a constant basis- with our own, inner mishkan.