Parshas Vayikra - I Am Not a Robot

By BJLife/Ori Strum

Posted on 03/18/21

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

One of my biggest pet-peeves is when websites force me to reveal my human identity by proving that I am not a robot. After all, maybe I am a robot! Not only that, but once I click on the I am not a robot button, Google then has the audacity to quiz me by asking me to select all images with a crosswalk, or a traffic light. For Heaven’s sake, I just want to go the website, I don’t want to be tested. I recently took one of these make-sure-you’re-not-a-robot tests and it asked me to select all images with a bike. One of the pictures had a motorcycle. Now between you and me and the rest of the world, a motorcycle is a type of bike. So, I clicked on that picture but lo and behold, the security engine gave me another quiz because I got the question wrong! I couldn't believe it. I know, right? I am still in shock.

I enjoy the challenge of trying to find something meaningful and inspirational in seemingly random things. If you think about it, the “I’m not a robot” button found on so many websites is a great lesson for each of us. Or at the very least, it is a great lesson for me, and in that case, I am writing this for myself. But by all means, please keep reading.

According to Google, a robot is “a machine that resembles a human being and is able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically.” A robot, though, is not limited to a machine that resembles a person, it can also be the other way around. In fact, according to Merriam-Webster, there is another definition of the word robot: “a person who resembles a machine in seeming to function automatically or in lacking normal feelings or emotions.”

We live in a world full of robots. No, I am not talking about the machine ones, I am talking about human robots. Millions and millions of people walk, run, talk, eat, work, study, etc. But how many of them are actually living with depth, meaning, and emotion? “Eat, sleep, _____ (fill in the blank), repeat” sounds cool on a T-shirt; but in truth, there is something quite scary, sad, and unfortunate about this phrase. Automatic repetition tends to gnaw away at the beauty and flavor of life.

Every morning, when I wake up and recite “Modeh Ani…” I am figuratively pressing that button: I am not a robot! I am not simply repeating that which happened yesterday and the day before. Today is a brand-new day, a time to shine, be the best version of myself, and make Hashem proud in whatever capacity that may be.

This week, we begin a new Parshah, a new Sefer: Vayikra. The word "ויקרא" means, “And He called.” Hashem called to Moshe Rabbeinu. G-d made a direct connection with man. This calling, though, was not just a one-time calling of Hashem to the great Moshe. It goes much deeper than that. This calling represents the constant calling of Hashem to each of us.

The word "ויקרא" in the Torah is spelled with a small aleph, giving the appearance of the word "ויקר" which means chance and happenstance. "ויקר" has a connotation of robotic, meaningless, and lacking juice (for lack of a better word). Our job in life is to locate that small aleph and turn ויקר into ויקרא. Don’t settle for a ויקר – haphazard, repetitive, emotionless, robotic – type of life. Rather, live in the realm of ויקרא – experience life to its fullest, live with meaning, and be proud of the direct connection that you have with Hashem.

Have a holy Shabbos! Ori Strum