The first pasuk in Vayikra reads:

וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֵלָיו…‏
And He called to Moshe, and God spoke to him…

Why is the subject on the second verb? It would seem more natural to have:

וַיִּקְרָא ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו…‏
And God called to Moshe, and He spoke to him…

  • It seems to help split the two phrases. Maybe there was a time delay between calling and speaking?
    – Double AA
    Mar 22, 2012 at 21:14
  • Very good question, I saw the ohr hachayim writing about it here Mar 22, 2012 at 22:36

6 Answers 6


R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains (Likkutei Torah, Vayikra 1a ff - partially adapted here) that this "calling" was in order to elevate Moshe to the point where he'd be able to enter the Mishkan (since it was covered by the cloud of Hashem's glory, as described at the end of Shemos - RSZ identifies this "cloud" as a revelation of G-dliness that surpasses all human understanding).

Any name of Hashem that might be used here, then, would delimit that "calling" as coming from some expression of G-dliness represented by that name. By phrasing it, so to speak, anonymously, we understand that this "call," and the love of Hashem for Moshe that it expressed, comes from Hashem's essence.


If I understand him correctly, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that were the subject attached to the first verb, it would serve to separate the two actions (something like "God called to Moshe, and then he spoke to him"), implying that the calling was first, to prepare Moshe, whereas attaching the subject to the second verb implies that the calling started the speaking, with no time for Moshe to prepare after being called.


Haamek Davar notes that the sound of God's voice didn't leave the tent and says that the verse can thus be explained as follows:

[An angel] called Moshe and [after Moshe entered the tent] God spoke to him….


The Malbim here writes:

Whenever two verbs are used one after the other, normally the name of the one doing the actions should be placed between the two verbs, for example in Bereishis 12:7 it says

וַיֵּרָא ה׳ אֶל-אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר.

Therefore, Chazal learned that wherever this order is changed and the two verbs are put together, it is to teach us that there is an equating factor between these two verbs.

Thus, here where it says וַיִּקְרָא אֶל משֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֵלָיו, instead of וַיִּקְרָא ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, it is to teach us that the speaking immediately followed the calling and was integral to the calling, since one should not speak to someone without first addressing them by name (as it teaches in Yoma 4b).


I think the passuk is written from Moshe's perspective. Sefer Shmot concluded with the completion of the mishkan and it being filled with "כבוד ה". Sefer Vayikra opens with Hashem speaking to Moshe from the Ohel Moed for the first time . Since Hashem had never spoken to Moshe like this before, there was some hesitation on Moshe's part. For a split second, he did not know Who was speaking or where the Voice was coming from, so there is no Subject named. Once Moshe realizes the Voice is Hashem's, the passuk can identify Him.


There was no need to mention Who is calling Moshe, because we know this from the last psukim in Humash SHMOT. R. Joseph Bekhor Shor (12th cent.) wrote - "Because the [previous] book ends with “the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle and Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting…” it was necessary [for God] to call him and give him permission to enter. We find the same thing on Mount Sinai, when the cloud covered it, it is written (Exod 24:16) “He called Moses {on the seventh day} from within the cloud.” And since the [opening] verse [of Leviticus] refers back to what happened before, “the Glory of the Lord filling the Tabernacle,” it writes “and he/it called” and doesn’t write “and the Lord called” since it is referring to the Glory mentioned above"

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