Small Aleph, Big Message by Yanky Krinsky


By writing it with an abnormally small Aleph, the Torah draws attention to the word “VaYikra,” the first word of Parashat VaYikra and of the entire Sefer. Chazal explain that the abnormal size of the Aleph is meant to differentiate between Moshe and Bil’am.  When Hashem speaks to Bil’am, the Torah uses the verb, “VaYikar,” which has two connotations – impurity and randomness.  These two connotations imply that Bil’am’s Nevu’ah is accidental, whereas Moshe’s Nevu’ah is pure and directed.  Therefore, Hashem wants to add this Aleph to highlight the difference between Moshe and Bil’am. 

The Ba’al HaTurim explains that the Aleph is small because Moshe does not want to draw attention to himself by making the Aleph full-sized. Thus, out of humility, he writes it smaller.  The Midrash echoes this thought by pointing out that even though Moshe knows that Hashem wants to speak to him in the Mishkan, he is always reluctant to enter without permission due to his humility.

Chazal further explain that it is important to differentiate between Moshe and Bil’am, since Bil’am is the only Navi to ever rival Moshe in powers of Nevu’ah.  However, the similarity in their abilities does not mean that they are of equal stature.  Moshe, as we see here, is an Anav, a humble person.  Bil’am, on the other hand, is a Ba’al Ga’avah, a haughty person.  While Bil’am surrounds himself with foreign ministers from other nations who flatter him in an attempt to win his service,  Moshe surrounds himself with holy people, such as his brother, Aharon, and seeks their opinions on important matters.

The difference between Moshe and Bil’am is not their abilities but rather in the utilization of their abilities. We, like Moshe, must try to make the most out of our talents, building on what may seem to be already perfect.  Even if one is very athletic, he will not truly master a sport until he puts in the effort to truly perfect his skills and ability to play the game.  The prerequisite to making such an effort is having the humility to realize that one is not perfect. Although Moshe and Bil’am are both granted the same level of Nevu’ah, Bil’am is content to rest on his laurels, whereas Moshe, who is far humbler, pushes himself to his utmost potential. As a result, Moshe becomes the greatest Navi in history.  We should all be Zocheh to be like Moshe in our devotion to Hashem and work to our full potential. 

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