The Small AlephMarch 23, 2020 - 12:00 am
The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. — Leviticus 1:1
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week’s Torah portion is Vayikra, which means “and He called,” from Leviticus 1:1–5:26, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 43:21–44:23.
I used to think that experiencing God meant having an earth-shattering spiritual experience. And I wondered if that would ever happen to me. But, as I’ve since learned, experiencing God is in the everyday, the less noticeable moments of life, so subtle that we can easily miss it.
This week, our Torah portion from the third of the Five Books of Moses, Leviticus, begins: “The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him …” There is something extremely unusual about this verse, but it is only noticeable when we look at the original Hebrew version. The Hebrew word for “called out” is vayikra, the title of this week’s portion. However, in this instance, the word is written in a strange way. The very last letter of the word, aleph, which is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is written smaller than the other letters.
What is that supposed to mean?
It is a reference to how God communicates with us. While we often think of God’s call as a thunderous, earth-shattering moment, the small aleph reminds us that God communicates with us in a much less impressive manner.
Remember when Elijah the prophet stood on a mountain and listened for God’s voice? He experienced fierce winds, a powerful earthquake, and a roaring fire, but God’s voice wasn’t in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Rather, God’s voice came to Elijah in a whisper, the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). That was the voice of God.
I believe that God calls out to us in a whisper every day of our lives. He presents Himself in the daily opportunities that we have to choose goodness, kindness, and godliness. He is in the laughter of a child, the baby’s cry. He is in the poor person who needs our help; He is with us as we wait in the checkout line at the grocery store. He is that small still voice in our heads urging us to choose good.
The truth is that God speaks to us every day. All we need to do is be still and listen.
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