web analytics
March 26, 2015 / 6 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Vayikra – With A Small Aleph

The-Shmuz

 And Hashem called to Moshe, and [He] spoke to him from the ohel moed saying. . .Vayikra 1:1

 

Sefer Vayikra opens with the expression, “And Hashem called to Moshe.” The word vayikra (called) is written with a small aleph.

The Baal HaTurim explains that this was because of Moshe Rabbeinu’s extreme humility. Hashem told him to write the word vayikra with an aleph. That implies that Hashem called Moshe to come forward for an audience. Moshe felt that was too much honor. He wanted it to appear as if it were more of a random occurrence.

When Hashem spoke to Bilaam, the Torah used the expression “vayikar” – it occurred – to mean that it wasn’t a formal audience, just a chance happening. So Moshe requested to write the word here that way without the aleph. Hashem told him not to do that, but to write the word out fully. Out of his extreme humility, Moshe said he would only write it with a small aleph to somehow keep the connotation that it wasn’t a formal invitation.

When we focus on this discussion, we see a beautiful illustration of humility – with a bit of a twist. Hashem called out to Moshe and specifically told him to write that in the Torah. After all, it was true, and it was important for the Jewish people to recognize the greatness of their leader. Moshe felt that while everyone might already have known it, to have it recorded that way for generations was just too much kavod, so he asked to have it stricken from the record.

Hashem told him no, it must remain. So out of deference to Hashem Moshe wrote it, but not in its full form, only with a small aleph. Moshe ran from the kavod, a very impressive show of humility.

Yet if we think about this discussion, it doesn’t sound humble at all. Hashem was giving Moshe directions for writing the Torah, the very blueprint for Creation. Hashem instructed Moshe to write the word “vayikra” with a large aleph. Moshe said no. Hashem insisted. Moshe still said no. Finally Moshe compromised: “All right, I will write it, but my way – small.” This doesn’t sound very obedient, and certainly not humble! It sounds audacious. An unassuming man would listen to the Creator of the Heavens and the earth and do as he was told.

The Greatness of Man and the Value of Humility

The answer to this can be found by understanding the balance between the greatness of man and humility. To do this, let’s begin with a mashal.

Imagine you are passing a commercial construction site where you see a large crane digging out a foundation. The crane lifts up loads of dirt, rocks, rubble – moving tons of earth with each scoop. Operating the crane is Joe. Joe is overweight and a chain smoker. Another worker approaches Joe and says, “Joe, look at you! 80 pounds overweight, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. You must do something about your health. Go the gym, work out, and get in shape.”

Joe turns back to his coworker and says, “Me work out? What do you think I do all day long? I lift heavy loads, tons and tons of dirt from one side of the site to the other.”

“Joe, that isn’t you lifting the dirt. It’s the crane. You’re just the guy pulling the levers. The crane is doing the heavy lifting!” exclaims the coworker.

This is an apt parable to man. I occupy a body. This body has a mind that is brilliant and a mouth that is articulate. It was created in the image of Hashem. Look at what it can accomplish; look what it can do. It is deserving of extraordinary honor.

I am the occupant of this body. I am the little guy inside who pulls the levers. Buy I didn’t create the body. I don’t know how to stretch the skin over the facial bones. I don’t know how to weave the one hundred billion neurons that comprise my brain. I am the little guy inside who tells the arms to move, who tells the mouth to open.

So am I deserving of honor? The body that I occupy sure is; just look at what it can do. But I am that little guy inside – small, insignificant, unimportant.

Both realities are correct. Both can coexist as long as I understand that I didn’t create me; Hashem did. Hashem may have put me into a position of power and greatness, but it has nothing to do with me. While I temporarily hold that position, I must act with due deference to my station in life. However, I am not the creator of it, nor will I occupy it forever. This is the balance between the extraordinary greatness of man and a healthy dose of humility.

The Most Humble of Men

The only human who reached a true understanding of this dichotomy was Moshe Rabbeinu. The Torah tells us that “The man, Moshe, was very humble, more so than any other person on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). Yet Moshe knew his worth. He was completely cognizant of his position and his power. Hashem said to write the word “vayikra” with an aleph, but Moshe didn’t want to. Hashem told him to do it anyway, and still Moshe felt that it wasn’t proper, so he stood up to Hashem and said, “You put me in this position, and You authorized me to be a factor in defining the transmission of Torah. I am exercising that right You have given me. I am going to write it – but the aleph will be small.”

This is a fabulous illustration of towering humility balanced with a courage and fortitude that comes from knowing one’s position.

Finding the balance

This perception is very applicable in our times. Most people struggle with either a poor self-image or an inflated sense of self. Either that inner voice says, “I am worthless. What can I accomplish anyway? How much can be expected of me?” or it speaks out, “Do you know who I am? Do you know how great I am? Do you know how weighty, mighty and significant I am?”

Both these extremes are false. The correct understanding is that Hashem created me and put me into a position where I can shape worlds. Born into this thing called a human body, I have extraordinary potential and capacities. And at the same time, I am but that little guy inside. I am the crane operator.

Understanding this balance allows us to recognize our significance and at the same time remain grounded. I was created in the image of Hashem, but at the end of the day I am but a creation – and Hashem is my Creator.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Vayikra – With A Small Aleph

  1. i love jewish press

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jon Karl of ABC asks White House Press Secretary, "Yemen is a model of US strategy?"
White House Insists Chaotic Yemen a ‘Model’ for Obama’s War on Terror
Latest Judaism Stories
Daf-Yomi-logo

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo-NEW

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

Grunfeld-032715

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

Nothing beats some preparation to make it a memorable Seder!

These four parshiyos are viewed as steps in a progression toward Pesach, the Yom Tov of teshuvah m’ahavah, of returning to Hashem out of love.

The obvious conclusion from this passage is that when the third Beis HaMikdash is built, since we, unlike the Jews who left Egypt, would not have the need for sacrifices, they would apparently not be part of the service.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

The-Shmuz

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/vayikra-with-a-small-aleph/2014/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: