Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah


True Humility

Our book and parashah start out with the Hebrew word “Vayikra” (which means “And He called upon”). G-d calls Moses. But something is strange and unusual, about the way this word, “Vayikra”, is written in a Torah scroll. The concluding letter of the word “Vayikra,” is written with an unusually small Aleph. Kind of like this: ויקרא””

In Jewish spirituality, we know that every letter in the Torah carries timeless insights and cosmic principles. So what’s with the little Aleph in the beginning of our parashah?

There are many insights about this small aleph, offered by different sages. The Kabbalistic insight is that the unusually small size of the aleph represents the profound humility of Moses, whom G-d is addressing here.

What was the essence of Moses’s humility? Moses did not deny his greatness. Moses was aware of his high level of spirituality, and the quality of his leadership. So what made Moses humble? The first thing that made Moses humble is that he realized that all his gifts and achievements were G-d-given. Think about it: Whenever we want to say that someone has a great talent, we say that this person is really gifted, like “Sarah is really gifted in music,” or “Jonathan is really gifted in drawing.” The word “gifted” reflects the fact that a person was simply given innate capacities and talents. G-d gives each of us certain positive attributes and talents. Moses was born with a natural “ear” for the music of Infinity. Moses was extraordinarily spiritually gifted. And Moses realized that it was simply a gift from above. This was the first foundation of Moses’s true humility. Moses didn’t deny his achievements, he simply recognized that they are all G-d-given.

Secondly, whenever Moses encountered a fellow human being, he would think to himself: “Had that person been gifted with my talents, or life circumstances, perhaps that person would have done so much more good with this or that talent or gift.” In other words, Moses realized that just because some people didn’t have a good starting point in life, or weren’t born with his specific talent, that doesn’t make him (Moses) inherently better than that other person.

Moses’s humility was very practical. It kept Moses respectful, grounded and focused. And it helped him achieve even more. Kabbalah teaches us that we all have a spark of Moses within us. We are all blessed with a gift, and we can all cultivate a noble and empowering perspective as to where we stand, vis a vis others. We can all achieve the state of having a balanced ego, between our strengths and our limitations.  We can all achieve true humility, recognize our genuine self-worth, and at the same time remain fully conscious and cognizant of the profound dignity and holiness of other people.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sessler

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