The first day of Spring is approaching this week. However, in our Jewish calendar we don’t switch from the winter prayer inclusion in the Amidah to the summer inclusion, until the first day of Pesach. There are all manner of inclusions and exclusions found in the fine print in our siddurim. As in life it is important to recognize the importance of these fine print notations!

As we open the Book of Vayikra, of Leviticus, this week, we also notice a variation in the calligraphy in our Torah that is also replicated in our Chumash. In the very first word Vayikra, the final aleph is very small, hanging at the end of the word. Our Rabbis, of course attuned as they are to these variants in the calligraphy, noted that the root of this word is to call. God wanted to call to Moshe specifically and purposefully. Later in Torah the same word is used when God calls to Balaam – minus the tiny aleph. Why the difference?

The Rabbis teach us that this tiny letter is an indication of God’s specific love for Moshe and for the humility Moshe demonstrated throughout his life. Initially Moshe wanted to use the same spelling as when God summoned Balaam, but as a sign of love and affection, God instructed Moshe to dangle the aleph at the end of this word. Similar but different. The aleph then almost becomes a separate word, teaches the Baal HaTurim, a word eleph means to teach as did Moshe Rabbeinu, with humbleness.

We can make ourselves then, into the small print of life, those seemingly minor notations, which can provide insights into how we can share our love for Torah and all it contains, drinking in the Mayim Chayim of life.

With love,
Rabbi Lynn