Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayikra

The Small Quiet Aleph

It is well known that the last letter in the Hebrew word "vayikra" – the aleph, that begins this week’s parsha, is written in miniature. The small aleph is a matter of note and discussion amongst biblical commentators throughout the ages. It was always seen as a symbol of the intense modesty of Moshe. It also represented the fact that God’s voice, so to speak, was only heard by Moshe within the confines of the mishkan/Tabernacle and not outside of it. God is able, so to speak, to "contain" His presence in the universe in order to allow room for nature and humans to operate. This power of tzimtzum – containment, withdrawal – is the basis of kabalistic thought and its view of life and the world. But there is another explanation of the small aleph that I wish to concentrate upon.

God, so to speak, is to be seen and heard in the small things in life and not only in the large, great events. The Lord tells the prophet Eliyahu that He is not to be found in the wind, the noise of a quake, the brightness of a burning fire but rather in the still, small voice, in the sound of a whisper and not of a shout. The first luchot – the tablets of stone that Moshe brought down from Sinai were given with great noise – thunder, lightning, volcanic explosions – and they ended up being smashed to bits. The second luchot, given quietly and privately to Moshe, and from him to all of Israel, endured and were the centerpiece of the mishkan and the Temple. The still, small voice is most representative of God and his omnipotence. Science has shown us in our time that our physical appearance, if not even our longevity and health, lie in small almost invisible strands that make up our DNA. God calls out with a small aleph to his creatures – to see Him in every aspect of life, no matter how small and insignificant it may appear on its surface.

The believing Jew feels God in every step that one takes, in every smile and tear, in all of the events of life. There are many who wait to see God only in great events, in wars and diplomacy, in natural disasters and mighty natural wonders. There is no doubt that God is to be found there but His true abode is in the still, small voice that is with us at all times and in all places. People often attempt to improve themselves, physically and spiritually, in gigantic leaps and with superhuman efforts. The surer way is to take small steps and to deal with one’s self with increments of improvement and commitment. The small and modest way in life leads to the great achievement. The book of Vayikra that we begin to read this week contains hundreds of mitzvot and details of halacha. It concentrates on "small" things in order to raise us to the level of great things and Jewish eternity. May we hear the small aleph in our lives, loud and clear.

Shabat shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Listen to the Mussar
- 5767

Crossing Holiness to the Other Side of the River
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Appropriate Response
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

> Rebuilding the Temple
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5768

Kohein-in-Waiting
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Recognizing the Honor and Kindness of Others
Rabbi Yona Zohn - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Where Firstborn Rush In. . .
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

A Book of Memories
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Judgement Call
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Chazak
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

On the Road Again (to Repentance)
Shlomo Katz - 5762

ArtScroll

A New Chapter
Shlomo Katz - 5771

Just Passing Through
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

Delivery From G-d Through Your Mouth
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Criticm - To Accept or to Defend
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information