It’s All in the Aleph

March 22, 2020 at 3:30 AM , ,

“…And He called to Moshe…” – Vayikra 1:1

וַיִּקְרָא אֶל משֶׁה – ויקרא א ,א

The word ויקרא, and he called, concludes with a paradoxical letter א. The letter’s name, aleph, parallels the word aluf, meaning chieftain—an allusion to G-d, “Chieftain of the universe” (Likkutei Torah, Tazria 23c). (In addition, the letter א used here distinguishes G-d’s communication with Moshe from His communication with the gentile prophets, such as Bilaam, whose prophetic visions are introduced with the term ויקר, and He happened upon (Bamidbar 23:4), instead of ויקרא, and He called. As Rashi explains, the word ויקר denotes coincidence and impurity, whereas ויקרא expresses affection.) Yet, we write the א of ויקרא in smaller script than the other letters in the Torah, denoting that this א is small and insignificant!

This small א reflects the general message contained in the word ויקרא, and He called. That is to say, that every Jew has a G-dly mission of “ויקרא”—to call out to others and draw them to the Torah and its observance. The Jew who answers G-d’s calling is indeed imbued with an א, for his work is empowered and energized by the “Chieftain of the universe.” Recognizing, however, that his strengths are endowed in him by G-d and he is acting only as G-d’s agent, he is therefore a small א—the א itself makes him modest and small.


In contrast, we write the א of the first word of Divrei Hayamim, the Book of Chronicles, in larger script than the standard letters. For as the Jew relates to the world, he must act on his G-dly mission with strength and authority. In the words of our Sages (Sanhedrin 37a), one must have a sense that “the world was created for me,” and it is therefore within my power to influence it. Therefore, in Divrei Hayamim, which chronicles the world’s history, this G-dly endowed strength is symbolized by an א that is larger and greater than all the other letters.

—Sichos Kodesh 5741 vol. 2, pp. 615-619, 801


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