Thursday, March 14, 2013

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

In the Hebrew text of the Torah scroll, thousands of years of tradition dictate how each letter is to be written. Certain words, such as the first word of this week's Parsha, are exceptional in some way.

The opening words of this week's Parshah, which begin the third Book of the Torah, Vayikra (Leviticus - 1:1-5:26) are:"Vayikra  el Moshe -- "And G-d called to Moses."..."

The first word in this phrase ends with a letter Aleph. What is unusual is the fact that this Aleph is very small compared with the size of the other letters. The scribe has to write very carefully a tiny Aleph. This has been a feature of every Torah scroll since the first one, written by Moses. What does the small Aleph signify?

The small Aleph alludes to Moshe's humility even in the face of such Divine attention. Conversely, we find in the book of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1:1)  that Adam's name is spelt with a large Aleph, symbolizing his greatness -- and his awareness of it. Awareness of one's good qualities is all well and good, but it must not go to the head. With Adam, it did. Moshe rectified this error. He recognized his greatness but more importantly, he recognized where it came from.

Humility does not mean self-delusion, but rather an awareness of one's talents, tempered by acknowledgement of where they come from. Moshe was aware of his qualities but he did not take any credit for it. In fact, he said: "Were somebody else to be granted these qualities, they would surely do even better."

If we feel inadequate, it is time to remember that we are Adams, with a big Aleph. We are formed by G-d, empowered by Him to care for His Creation. However we must draw upon the spark of Moshe within us to avoid over-confidence and self-aggrandizement, but to remember from Whom everything comes

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Rabbi  Mordechai Wollenberg)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

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