Vayikra: How Our Youth Can Change the World



One of the biggest stories – and surprises – of our time was demonstrated just this week, when an approximate one million students, from kindergartners through high-school seniors, took to the streets demanding action be taken to prevent violence in the schools. There is a tremendous lesson – and power – in this.

We’ll call it the youth revolution.

What is it about the young that makes them so idealistic and so fearless? And what can we learn from them, especially from their ability to forever alter mountains of power that just a while ago seemed unmovable?

People often wonder: “What can I – one single individual – do to have any serious impact on the future? I am after all only one small person amidst a sea of billions!”

The answer lays in this week’s Torah chapter – which sandwiches and connects Purim and Passover

What link can we make between the two? What should be our focus, as we begin to read the third book of the Torah – the Book of Leviticus otherwise known as Vayikra?

The answer: our children.

Children played an important role in Purim: Mordechai first turned to the children when the Jewish people were faced with extermination. Their simple and pure advice infused Mordechai with hope and joy, and changed the entire course of events.

Children will play the starring role at Passover.

And they are the key to the first Torah reading in the Book of Leviticus, which captures the secret power of youth. As the Midrash teaches, “Why do the young commence [the study of Torah] with the Book of Leviticus? Surely, it is because the young are pure, and the korbanot (“sacrifices”) are pure. So let the pure come and engage in the study of the pure.” Indeed, the Sefer Chasidim describes the custom of placing the Book of Leviticus in the crib near a baby’s head when he is named at his circumcision.

Adults are meant to be (or so we’re told) smarter than children. But at times, when we speak with our children we surprisingly discover that their wisdom often surpasses our own.

This sermon examines how the purity of youth – unadulterated by the cynicism of material life – has the power to change worlds. And us.




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