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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Small Aleph

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

And so we begin the book at the center of the five books of Moses, Sefer VaYikra, the book of Leviticus. This is the book of that details the types of sacrifices the Hebrews made to God. It speaks of bodily fluids, and how skin, homes and clothing can be affected by Tumah.

It is the very first word of the Parshat Vayikra that caught my eye as the aleph, the final letter in that first word Vayikra, is much smaller than all of the other letters. What an odd thing to see as we transition from Exodus to Leviticus.

There is much commentary on this tiny aleph. Was it a scribal error? Was it showing Moses' great humility? I will add links to the bottom of this page if you are interested in classical commentary on this one letter. For now, though, I have a small, if different interpretation of the small aleph, which reflects on the situation that the Ukraine finds itself in now.

The Small Aleph

The small Aleph means something different to everyone.

The small Aleph is silent but it says much.

The small Aleph hovers between the Commander and the commands.

The small Aleph is wedged between beginnings and continuations.

It is a signpost between two worlds.

The small Aleph is not afraid to stand between giants.

The small Aleph hovers high above the ground,

proud and defiant.

The small Aleph refuses to leave,

refuses to fail,

refuses to surrender.

The small Aleph stands for the underdog;

the one still hanging on who won’t be defeated.

The small Aleph hold onto its place in history

with three slender lines.

The small Aleph begins the story of sacrifice.

וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר׃

Gd called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying:

Leviticus 1:1

Translation from Sefaria.


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