Small greatness ­ Article ­ BINA

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Small greatness

Small greatness

by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton

Question:

What are the hallmarks of a real humble person?
 
Answer:

This week we begin reading a new book in the Torah - the book of "Vayikra". The word "Vayikrah" means "and He called" as the book begins with G-d calling to Moses to teach him the laws that Moses was to then convey to the Jewish people. There is an interesting irregularity in the way that this word "Vayikrah" is written in the Torah scroll. In contrast to the other letters in the Torah, the last letter of this word, the letter "Aleph", is traditionally written in a much smaller, undersized script. Our sages tell us that the Aleph is made small to teach us that even though Moses had achieved much greatness and spoke directly to G-d on a regular basis, he still remained a "small" and humble man in his own eyes.
 
But why the letter "Aleph"? Being the very first of all the letters in the Hebrew Alphabet makes the "Aleph" the "leader" and the "greatest" of all the letters. If the Torah wants to teach us about humility, wouldn't it have made more sense to teach this lesson by making another less significant letter small, and not the "Aleph" which stands for greatness and leadership?
 
But by using the greatest letter to teach us the lesson of humility, the Torah is teaching us what true humility is really about: There are people who are generally quiet, reserved and non-imposing on others - as long as no one steps on their feet. But if someone else dares to contradict or question them in "their" field of expertise, they suddenly lose their "humble" nature. For such people, their greatness and their humility are two distinct worlds that don't come near each other.
 
 
By choosing to downsize specifically the greatest letter, the Torah is teaching us that a person's humility should not only be expressed in areas where they may not excel, but rather that a person's humility should be in the very same area as his greatness. Showing humility in an area that you know very little about is no big deal. A truly humble person is one who is willing to put himself aside and gives place for others even in those areas where he is really great. This is the sign of not only a truly humble person but of a real great one too.

What are the hallmarks of a real humble person?
 
Answer:

This week we begin reading a new book in the Torah - the book of "Vayikra". The word "Vayikrah" means "and He called" as the book begins with G-d calling to Moses to teach him the laws that Moses was to then convey to the Jewish people. There is an interesting irregularity in the way that this word "Vayikrah" is written in the Torah scroll. In contrast to the other letters in the Torah, the last letter of this word, the letter "Aleph", is traditionally written in a much smaller, undersized script. Our sages tell us that the Aleph is made small to teach us that even though Moses had achieved much greatness and spoke directly to G-d on a regular basis, he still remained a "small" and humble man in his own eyes.
 
But why the letter "Aleph"? Being the very first of all the letters in the Hebrew Alphabet makes the "Aleph" the "leader" and the "greatest" of all the letters. If the Torah wants to teach us about humility, wouldn't it have made more sense to teach this lesson by making another less significant letter small, and not the "Aleph" which stands for greatness and leadership?
 
But by using the greatest letter to teach us the lesson of humility, the Torah is teaching us what true humility is really about: There are people who are generally quiet, reserved and non-imposing on others - as long as no one steps on their feet. But if someone else dares to contradict or question them in "their" field of expertise, they suddenly lose their "humble" nature. For such people, their greatness and their humility are two distinct worlds that don't come near each other.
 
By choosing to downsize specifically the greatest letter, the Torah is teaching us that a person's humility should not only be expressed in areas where they may not excel, but rather that a person's humility should be in the very same area as his greatness. Showing humility in an area that you know very little about is no big deal. A truly humble person is one who is willing to put himself aside and gives place for others even in those areas where he is really great. This is the sign of not only a truly humble person but of a real great one too.

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