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Coming Close
by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

If you look in a Torah scroll you will see that the first word in this week's section ends with a small letter Aleph, "VAYIKRa" (G-d called). That's the way it's supposed to be written.

This does not seem to make sense. This small letter changes neither the meaning nor the pronunciation of the word. Why is it small? Also, why does the Torah use “G-d called” here and deviate from the usual term; "G-d spoke (Vayedaber)"?

The Torah portion of this week is a detailed description of the animal sacrifices offered in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Is there any connection between the theme of the parsha and the small Aleph?

Rashi in his commentary explains that the word VaYikra implies a calling in endearment. However, this is true only when the word is spelled with a final Aleph. When the word does not end with an Aleph (such as when G-d called VaYikar to the evil Bilam (Numbers 22:4)) it means a cold, perfunctory calling.

What is the significance of the letter Aleph, and particularly a small Aleph? The Aleph represents the G-dly soul of each Jew. Aleph is also the first letter of the first word of the Ten commandments, Anochi. The entire Torah is condensed in those ten commandments.

But a small Aleph implies humility.

This is what endears the Jewish people to G-d. As the Torah says (Devarim 7:7) "You are the smallest of all the nations." In every generation, there must be a Jewish leader (like Moses in our weekly portion) who teaches the Jews this lesson.

True Jewish leaders are living examples of humility. Their entire purpose is to teach the world humility: Namely, that G-d miraculously creates us constantly from nothing and we must be grateful that we can repay Him by doing His commandments.

How does the small Aleph connect to the concept of animal sacrifices, discussed in the same portion? Each of us has an “animal” inside ourselves, i.e. the animal soul, which is selfish and desires only earthly pleasures. When we bring an animal to the Temple, this means taking the animal within us and consecrating it, to transform and unite it with its creator.

This is the secret of the sacrifices. The word for animal offering, korbon, stems from the word korov, to come close.

When all these “animals” are united with the Creator then the small Aleph of each Jew will also unite with all the others as one (the numerical value of the letter Aleph). The truth will then be revealed; that G-d, the Torah and the Jewish people are one.

Just as Moshe miraculously led us from Egypt so will Moshiach lead us from the terrible exile we are in now. He will strengthen Jewish identity, brotherly love and closeness to HaShem and His Torah. May we see the complete redemption with Moshiach now!

 

 


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