Moshe’s Modesty by Eli Winkler


The opening word of this week’s Parsha, Vayikra, the last letter, the Aleph, is smaller than the rest.  Many Meforshim suggest possible answers as to why this is so.  Many believe that the small Aleph reflects the modesty of Moshe and how that should be an influence on us.  Moshe had wanted to write Vayikar, that God “chanced” upon Moshe, as it is used when Hashem appeared to Bilam.  Hashem instructed Moshe to write Vayikra since He called directly to Moshe.  In his modesty Moshe wrote Vayikra, but with a small Aleph.   

Rav Bunim of Psischa said that Moshe thought of himself as just a normal person standing on a high roof.  He himself was not any higher in spirituality then the rest of Bnai Yisrael, but was elevated to a higher position.  He did not see himself as a “big Aleph,” but rather a small one.  Moshe saw Hashem as the “big Aleph,” and always remembered that.  This can be a lesson to all Jews as well.  Not to see yourself as a “big Aleph,” but to see yourself as the “small Aleph,” and to care about Hashem and others.   

 There is a comment in the Midrash Tanchuma explaining how anyone who runs after honor and glory will find that honor and glory run away from him.  However, the Midrash goes on to say that anyone who runs away from honor and glory will be chased by them.  This was true about Moshe.  However, if someone does not want honor, why will it chase after him?  The Sefat Emet suggests that Moshe was not declining the honor at all.  Moshe realized that he was being honored for his qualities and skills, which all came from Hashem.  So, Moshe accepted the honor he got and, instead of regarding it as his own, he credited it to the One who really deserved it, Hashem.  Honor, therefore, chased after him, because honor knew that Moshe would make sure everyone knew that only Hashem deserves true honor.  In a world filed with people seeking glory and credit for that which really comes from Hashem, this first word of Vayikra teaches us a great lesson.

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