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THOUGHTS ON PARASHAT VAYIKRA AND MOSHE RABENU BY PHILIP RAPPORT
In the first posuk of Vayikra we find that the Aleph in the word Vayikra is smaller than the rest of the word. There are many reasons given for this, and all of them centre around the humility and modesty of Moshe Rabenu.
Moshe Rabenu did not want to write about himself that G-d had called him before speaking to him. It was too much honour for him. He really wanted to write the word without the Aleph. Vayikar (without the Aleph) means “and G-d happened to speak with him”. When G-d spoke to Balaam, G-d did not call him first. There we find (in posuk 23.4 of Bamidbar) the word Vayikar which implies G-d appeared to Balaam only on rare occasions and even then only with reluctance, as it were.
The Medrash in Ki- Sisa asks: Why was Moshe privileged that his face shone like the rays of the sun? The Medrash answers that when he finished writing the Torah, a drop of ink was left on the pen, and he wiped this on his forehead. This is what caused rays of light and brilliance to come forth from his forehead.
Could not G-d have given Moshe the exact amount of ink? G-d knew exactly how much ink was necessary to write the entire Torah. What is meant by this Medrash?
One answer is that in Beha’aloscha (posuk 12.3) we find this description of Moshe “And Moshe was the most humble of all men.” Moshe Rabenu had to write that he was an “awnav” a modest person. He left out the Yud after the Nun. He did not want to write that he was complete (100%) humble and modest person. This was the ink that the Medrash refers to that was left over.
However, we can really answer the medrash with the Aleph in the word Vayikra in this sedra. Moshe wrote a small Aleph because of his sense of humility and humbleness. The difference between the small and a regular Aleph was the ink that was left over on the pen.
Another answer is found in Sefer Chanukas Hatorah- in the sedra of Tetzaveh, there is no mention of the name of Moshe Rabenu. The Medrash tells us that when the Jews sinned with the making of the golden calf, G-d wanted to destroy them and let only Moshe live. From Moshe, G-d would build a new nation.
When Moshe prayed for Israel, he said: “If you do not forgive them, then erase me together with them.” Moshe’s greatness lay in the fact that he was willing to give up his own life. He wanted to be destroyed himself, if all of Israel was to be destroyed.
Since Moshe had expressed the words “erase me,” they were fulfilled (even though the children of Israel were forgiven and not destroyed). Accordingly, his name was left out of the sedra of Tetzaveh.
The Vilna Gaon explains that the seventh day of Adar, the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabenu, always comes out during the week when we read the sedra of Tetzaveh. This is why this portion was chosen to be without Moshe Rabenu’s name.
The fact that Moshe’s name was not included can also be “the ink that was left over,” as mentioned in the Medrash above.
From all these explanations, one thing becomes clear. The ink that was left over had some connection only with Moshe Rabenu himself. This connection involved the character of Moshe.
True leadership demands many qualities, but two of them are most important:
- Humility – humbleness
- M’siras Nefesh- willingness to give up your life for your people
In the explanations above, we see that Moshe had both these qualities. This is why he was Moshe Rabenu: Our Greatest Leader.