S.T.A.R.’s upcoming exciting events:
- Friday Candle Lighting: 6:46 pm
- Shabbat Ends: 7:35 pm
“And He called…” (1:1)
If you look in a Sefer Torah you’ll notice that the first word of the Book of Vayikra is written with a small letter aleph.
The word Vayikra means “And He called…” The Ba’al HaTurim (Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher 1270 – 1340) explains that Moshe, the humblest of men, was reluctant to write that G-d had called to him. Rather, he wanted to write Vayikar — without thealeph at the end of the word — which means “And He happened…”, as if G-d had just “happened upon him,” for Moshe felt it sounded unbecoming that G-d should go “out of His Way” to speak to him. In the event, when G-d told Moshe to write thealeph at the end of the word, Moshe said he would write it smaller than the other letters — hence the small aleph in our sifrei Torah until today.
What’s unusual about Moshe’s reaction is the thought that anything could be considered happenstance in relation to G-d, Who is the Cause of Causes. What could it possibly mean that G-d just “happened” upon Moshe?
The story of Purim reveals much about happenstance. The Name of G-d appears nowhere in the Megillah; the story itself seems to be one happenstance after another. It seems just happenstance that Esther should find herself Queen of Persia and thus in a position to save her people from annihilation; just happenstance that Mordechai should overhear a plot against the life of Achashverosh, and just happenstance that his loyalty to the king should go unrewarded until the fateful night that Achashverosh cannot sleep and calls for the scroll of the records of the kinG-dom to be read before him, precipitating the series of events that leads to the saving of the Jewish People.
Haman was from the nation of Amalek. Amalek is the agency of atheism in the world — that existence is just happenstance. The gematria of Amalek is the same assafek, which means “doubt”. The Talmud asks where you can find an allusion to Haman in the Torah; it replies that when G-d asked Adam if he had eaten from the forbidden tree, G-d said, “Ha-min ha-etz…” “Did (you) from the tree…?” The word “Ha-min” can be read as “Haman”. The word “Ha-min” is an interrogative pronoun; Haman’s very name suggests question, existential doubt.
Atheism doubts the existence of G-d — but is sure about the existence of self. True humility doubts the possibility of my existence as something distinct from He Who is Existence. Moshe’s response to G-d calling him was that — the feeling that he had no more independent validity than a chance meeting, a happenstance.