The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. - Leviticus 1:1
The Torah portion for this week is Vayikra, which means "and He called," from Leviticus 1:1-5:26, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 43:21-44:23.
The beginning of this week's Torah portion begins with a scribal anomaly - only noticeable in the original Hebrew. The very first word is vayikra, which means "and He called." The "He" in the verse is God and He was calling out to Moses. However, the word is written in such a way that the last letter of the word, the Hebrew letter aleph, is written smaller than the preceding letters.
What is the message of the small aleph?
One answer is as follows. With the aleph so small, one could mistakenly overlook it and read the word vayikar, instead of vayikra. The Hebrew word vayikar means "and it happened." The words vayikar and vayikra represent polar opposites on the theological spectrum. One word represents the idea that everything in life is happenstance. Things just happen. People just happened as a result of unintended evolution. However, the word vayikra represents the idea that God is behind everything.
The difference between vayikar, "and it happened," and vayikra, "and He called," is the tiny letter aleph. aleph is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the numerical value of one. In Judaism, Aleph represents THE One; it represents God.
There are two ways that we can look at life. One way is that God isn't involved in anything; life is a sequence of random events. The other way to look at life is that God is involved in everything. The aleph is written small - you have to look for it. If we look casually at our lives and only on the surface level, we won't see the One behind it running the show. But when we take the time to really look and see what is unfolding in our lives, we will see how God is present and involved in everything.
This is the Jewish perspective on life - God is behind every single thing, down to the fine details. He is at the core of the smallest molecule and Creator of the great Milky Way. God directs the movements of the tiniest ant on earth and He is the force behind the orbit of the planet Mars. The Talmud teaches that God assigns an angel to every tiny blade of grass whose job it is to encourage it to grow. God calls out to each of us encouraging us to grow as well.
This week, pick three things that happen to you and ask the following question: "What can I learn from this and why is this the best thing for me right now?" You might notice that nothing happens to you randomly, but rather everything occurs as planned by a loving and caring God who designs our lives for our very best.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President