The Small Quiet Aleph
It is well known that the last letter in the Hebrew word "vayikra" – the
that begins this week’s parsha, is written in miniature. The small aleph
matter of note and discussion amongst biblical commentators throughout the
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
so to speak, to "contain" His presence in the universe in order to allow
nature and humans to operate. This power of tzimtzum – containment,
is the basis of kabalistic thought and its view of life and the world. But
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
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
in the still, small voice, in the sound of a whisper and not of a shout.
luchot – the tablets of stone that Moshe brought down from Sinai were
great noise – thunder, lightning, volcanic explosions – and they ended up
smashed to bits. The second luchot, given quietly and privately to Moshe,
him to all of Israel, endured and were the centerpiece of the mishkan and
Temple. The still, small voice is most representative of God and his
Science has shown us in our time that our physical appearance, if not even
longevity and health, lie in small almost invisible strands that make up
God calls out with a small aleph to his creatures – to see Him in every
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
in all of the events of life. There are many who wait to see God only in
events, in wars and diplomacy, in natural disasters and mighty natural
There is no doubt that God is to be found there but His true abode is in
small voice that is with us at all times and in all places. People often
improve themselves, physically and spiritually, in gigantic leaps and with
superhuman efforts. The surer way is to take small steps and to deal with
with increments of improvement and commitment. The small and modest way in
leads to the great achievement. The book of Vayikra that we begin to read
contains hundreds of mitzvot and details of halacha. It concentrates
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.
Rabbi Berel Wein
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org
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