Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Rebbe Story: Shelo Asani Goy

A Rebbe Story:  Shelo Asani Goy!

The holy Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zt”l once entered his Beis Midrash in the morning and began to recite the morning blessings as he did daily.  However, the congregants noticed that when he reached the blessing praising Hashem for granting us more Mitzvos than the gentiles, the blessing SheLo Asani Goy -- for having not made me a non-Jew, he skipped it!  Everyone assembled was greatly surprised and when they questioned the Berditchever Rebbe zt”l, he explained his puzzling behavior to them.
“This morning when I woke up and prepared myself to pray before my Maker I began to consider just how lowly and despicable and wretched I am until I came to the conclusion that no one could possibly be as lowly as I.

Then my heart broke and I became so sad and depressed that I could not even lift up my head to face Hashem at all.  How could I serve Hashem out of joy in such a miserable state?

Therefore I decided to explore deep within myself and try to find even just one good point, something of value, but I could not.  Every Mitzvah or good deed that I reviewed and examined was faulty and I saw that I had not even begun to fulfill my duties before such a great and awesome G-d, the King of kings!
As I wandered in my home despondently from room to room I chanced to peer out of my window and I saw a gentile pass by on the way to the market.  It was then I realized the unique mission we Jews have and just what a wonderful portion we have been given.

My duty as a Jew and the Mitzvos with which I have been commanded are unique and when I realized this great difference, I knew that this was a cause for great Simcha, and I rejoiced and recited the blessing on the spot, ‘SheLo Asani Goy’! “And that,” explained Reb Levi Yitzchak zt”l, “Is why I did not recite it now in Shul.” (Yalkut Kedushas Levi p. 243 -- quoted in Song of Simcha).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Davening needed for 3 year-old boy in Monsey!

Please Daven and say Tehillim for a Frum 3 year-old boy who was mauled, Rachmana Litzlan, by a pit bull, in Monsey, NY.

Hashem, please heal him very, very swiftly!

Mussar Drosha: Shemini

מוסר דרשה: שמיני:

HaKadosh Baruch Hu tells us (in Parshas Beshalach): ‘If you will surely listen to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and what is upright in His eyes you will do, and you give ear to His commandments and guard all His Statutes; all the sicknesses that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you, for I am Hashem your Healer.’  

On this, Rebbe Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin zt”l explains that Hashem is telling us here that even when He does brings punishments upon us; it is only to heal us.  Hashem is never trying to destroy us, Chas V’Shalom; rather, He is our Healer always. (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash).

This uncovers for us a massive secret in life:  Every single thing that HaKadosh Baruch Hu makes happen is only to help us.  Think about this……

Some people get upset or angry when misfortune (Rachmana Litzlan/may the Merciful One save us) befalls them, but in truth, we should accept it with joy, as we know that whenever Hashem makes something happen, it is for the best, and furthermore, to heal us!  

If someone truly pondered these thoughts, they would realize that there is no such thing coming from Hashem really as misfortune.  It is all for our benefit.  So just like when Hashem brings good things on us and we accept them with joy and gratitude, so too, if Hashem brings something that doesn’t seem good upon us, we should accept it with joy and gratitude, because it is not really misfortune at all, it is for the best, just like the good things!  He makes things happen that are really all for the best -- but we just often don’t understand the Supreme Wisdom behind the things.

Now, with the above mentioned, we can come to a new understanding and perspective on our everyday life……
---------------------------------------

There is, in fact, a beautiful story that illustrates this concept exceptionally:  The Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg [zt”l] and his holy brother Rav Pinchas Horowitz [zt”l] author of the sefer Hafla’ah were studying tractate Berachos together when they reached an impasse. No matter what they could not understand the Gemara’s words.

Together they traveled to the Maggid of Mezritch [zt”l] hoping that he could solve their problem. When they arrived they entered the Maggid’s room and asked the Rebbe for help.

“Rebbe, surely knows that the Mishna in Berachos (Mishna 9:5) teaches that “one is obligated to recite a blessing over bad news just as he is obligated to recite a blessing over good news, and furthermore the Gemara there obligates us to recite such a blessing over bad news BeSimcha, in joy. Rebbe, how can a person recite such a blessing over bad news joyfully?”

The Maggid answered them, “Please go to the house of study and ask to see Reb Zisha [zt”l].  He will be able to answer your question for you.”


And so the two brothers headed to the beis hamidrash. They began asking to see Reb Zisha and were directed to a poor sick looking individual who sat all the way at the back of the beis midrash near the stove, a place usually reserved for beggars and wandering vagabonds. The pauper sat reciting Tehillim from a volume and was so immersed he did not seem to notice their approach until they called attention to themselves. Surprised that this person was the one the Maggid referred them to, nonetheless they asked him to explain the Gemara.


Now the Rebbe Reb Zisha [zt”l] was extremely impoverished and his life was filled with many troubles however he was also exceedingly humble and he always referred to himself in the third person diminutive and said: “Zisha is an ignoramus and a simpleton, better you should go and ask a scholar and wise Talmid Chacham to explain such matters to you.”

When the brothers persisted that the Maggid himself had sent them specifically to Reb Zisha because he would be able to answer their question, an expression of total shock and surprise altered the poor man’s features.

“The Rebbe sent you to Zisha?” he exclaimed astonished and humbly pointing to himself in utter disbelief, he continued “Why would he do that? The Rebbe told you that Zisha would know the answer to this Gemara? Zisha is very surprised and very very baffled.

You see, Zisha can not possibly tell you how to recite a blessing over bad news joyfully, because Zisha has never experienced anything negative at all, on the contrary Zisha has never suffered at all in his entire life. Better you should seek someone who has suffered or received some bad news at some point in their lives and ask them.”

It was then that the two brothers understood why the Maggid had sent them to the Rebbe Reb Zisha, now they had their answer, in order to recite the blessing over bad news just as over good news and to do so joyfully one must have such simcha that he does not even realize that something is wrong or does not feel the news is bad at all. (From Sippurei Chassidim -- as told over to me by my Rebbe, HaRav Tal Moshe Zwecker shlita).
---------------------------------------

In this parsha, two of Aharon HaKohen’s sons brought close an “alien” fire before Hashem and died -- i.e. because of what they did.  And what does the Torah say the great Aharon’s reaction was? ‘וידם אהרן’ -- ‘And Aharon was silent’.  

Our Gedolim explain that this silence was acceptance of Hashem’s Decree of Nadav and Avihu having to die.  

Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l) explains that the word ‘וידם’ is related to the word for ‘דומם’ -- the word for an inanimate object.  This teaches us, he explains, that Aharon HaKohen made himself like an inanimate object, which shows absolutely no emotion.  Meaning that he didn’t even show any pain on his face!  This is the level of Emunah/faith in Hashem Aharon was on. (This is quoted in many places).

Just think about what had just happened:  His two sons just had to be killed, yet he did not at all complain -- nor did he even show any pain!

But Aharon HaKohen reached the level we discussed above -- the level we must all strive for -- realizing that everything that comes from Hashem is always for the best.  
---------------------------------------

Let us all just take a little bit of time to think about Aharon’s Emunah, and try to internalize the messages that these things all carry for us in our everyday lives.


A Gut Shabbos to all!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management #2

Mussar Drosha: Anger Management #2:

From MostlyMusic.com

The Ramban zt”l, in his famous Iggeres, writes: “Anger is a most serious character flaw which causes one to sin.”

In A Letter for the Ages (p. 33), it is written: ‘Anger is not only an individual character trait -- it is a barometer of personality as well.  A wise man advised: “Before you take someone as your friend, observe him when he is angered.  His conduct under pressure will tell you volumes about his true nature” [see Eruvin 65b] (Orchos Tzaddikim Ch. 12).
    
When a person consistently loses his temper, he loses his rational sense as well.  The very basis of his relationship with G-d can become endangered, for there is nothing to restrain him.  
Thus, the Talmud (Shabbos 105b) states: “The man who loses himself to anger is considered to have worshiped idols.”
  
When a person becomes unrestricted, he approaches idolatry.
  
Unable to think clearly, the man who is lost to fury loses perspective.  The crooked path appears straight; the forbidden seems permissible.  Insults, quarreling, and slander are no longer distant from him.  Although an otherwise sensitive man, the angered person may in his fury come even to humiliate others publicly.  When no longer guided by reason, even the most unspeakable acts can come within reach (Chofetz Chaim; Chovas Hashmirah, p. 24).


A Gut Yontiff and a Chag Kasher V'Sameach to all!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pesach/Haggadah Insights 5777


Pesach/Haggadah Insights 5777:


Baruch Hashem, we have the tremendous privilege of learning together another year of Pesach and Haggadah insights:  It is my sincere hope that these teachings and stories will help you -- and maybe even your Seder and Pesach as well.  But let us all remember that these are not just nice vorts:  They are timeless messages that need to be taken to heart. (This concept is discussed by many; Rebbe Chaim Miller shlita, based upon the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l on Torah in Ten, among them).

From Google Play


Hashem, thank You so much for bringing us to this moment!  And now, with Your Help, we will begin:


א) So, we start with a beautiful thought on essentially one of the big concepts of the Seder itself:  Asks the Maggid of Yerushalayim (HaRav Sholom Schwadron zt”l); why do we specifically need to tell over the story of Pesach to our children (or just overall) while having the Pesach, Matzah and Marror?  


And he answers beautifully that it comes to teach us that when we tell over the Story of the Going out from Egypt and the stuff we do at the Seder while actually doing it -- that will influence our children more.  They won’t just hear all the stuff -- they will see their parents doing it as well. (Quoted in a Shiur on YUTorah.org).


We tell over the story of Hashem taking us out from Egypt and what things we must do at the Seder -- while doing it ourselves.  Teaching is so very important -- but influence perhaps even more so.


) In Yachatz, we take the middle of the three Matzos, break it in half, and put away the bigger half:  Explains HaRav Avraham Yehuda HaKohen Schwartz zt”l; this symbolizes the fact that we can never say even close to as many praises as Hashem deserves.  No amount of praises can list His Greatness. (From Haggadas Kol Aryeh).  


However, it is relevant to add that whatever praises we praise Hashem with are very important and beloved to Him.


ג) So, before Mah Nishtanah, in old Haggadahs, there were three extra words: ‘Kan haben shoel’ (‘Here the son asks’).  Says Rebbe Asher M’Stolin zt”l; ‘Here’ -- can refer to the Seder:  At the Seder night, it is an auspicious time for every “son” -- i.e. child of Hashem -- to ask their Father their requests and prayers and receive His Bounty. (From Beis Aharon).


ד) Now we have an incredible thought really on Studying Torah:  The Haggadah says ‘Blessed is the Omnipresent, Blessed is He.  Blessed is He Who gave the Torah to His People, Yisroel….. With regard to four sons does the Torah speak….’


Explains HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik zt”l; with the wisdom of the nations of the world, a small child studies something much different from what an older person or wise person does:  

Then they gradually move upwards from there…. However, with Torah, he says, a small child learns the same Torah as someone who is extremely learned!  This is the wonder of the Torah!  


And this is also what it can mean, explains Reb Chaim zt”l, when it says what we quoted above (about Hashem giving us the Torah, and then the Four Sons). (Quoted in Haggadas Beis HaLevi).


ה) Why in the phrases right before speaking of the Four Sons, is the Name used for Hashem ‘HaMakom’ -- the Omnipresent?  


So, HaRav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik zt”l explains that this is the same Name as is used when we comfort mourners.  It symbolizes when things are tough and it is harder to feel Hashem.   


However, this is also the Name that describes Hashem as the One Who reaches all people and everywhere.  The use of this Name is saying that even when things are tough, He is with us.  


And this is the answer to our question, as he explains:  There are many walks of life; some bad some good (like with the Four Sons):  But Hashem reaches to all people and is with them. (From Haggadas Hararei Kedem).


Hashem is with us all; but the question is; are we with Him?


ו) HaRav Natan Kaziev shlita writes: “The mitzvah of telling the story of the Exodus to our children is unique in that the Torah does not specify in which specific manner it should be done.  Instead, the command for us to pass down this information to every generation is mentioned in the Torah four times, and in four different styles.  The message of the Torah is not for us just to talk about it, but rather, to speak to each person in a manner which is suited to his or her capacity to understand and listen……” (From The Sephardic Haggadah).


ז) So, we know that one of the Four Sons is the Wicked one (Rasha).  And he asks us; “What is this Service to you?” One of the things we tell him is that if he were in Egypt, he wouldn’t have gotten redeemed.  


But says the Be’er Moshe (Rebbe Moshe Yechiel HaLevi Epstein of Ozharov zt”l); he wouldn’t have been redeemed from Egypt -- which was before we got the Torah.  However, now, when we have the Torah, Baruch Hashem, he could rise up to the level that he would be redeemed! (Told over by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita on TorahAnytime.com).


And we may add that this is alluded to with the fact that the Four Sons are juxtaposed with blessing Hashem for giving us the Torah.


ח) “With regard to the child who doesn’t know to ask (She’aino yodea li’sh’ol), the Haggadah says that “You must open for him” -- i.e. the conversation.  But the feminine form of the word ‘you’ is used (אתּ).  Why?


Explains HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein shlita; people’s hearts are open; but we need to be able to tell things over properly.  However, sometimes, they close up and don’t want to listen at all (Rachmana Litzlan/may Hashem save us).  


But what you must do, he explains, is to speak softly and tell things over softly.  The feminine language represents softness -- which teaches us that we must speak and teach softly. (From Haggadas Chashukei Chemed).  


ט) Okay; so the Haggadah talks about how people have tried to destroy us, and it says ‘Shelo echad bilvad amad aleinu li’chaloseinu…’ (‘That not one alone rose up against us to destroy us….’):  


The Sadigura Rebbe (Rebbe Avraham Yaakov M’Sadigur zt”l) translates this phrase slightly differently:  “‘It is only because of our lack of oneness that enemies have risen against us’.  Were the Jews joined together in true unity, there would be no possibility for any attack from our foes.” (As quoted in The Chassidic Haggadah).  


This thought is also quoted in the name of Rebbe Shalom Rokeach of Belz zt”l and the Sfas Emes zt”l.  


י) The Haggadah says ‘Vayareiu osanu haMitzrim’ (‘And the Egyptians did bad to us’), and then it quotes the verse in which Paroah wanted to enslave the Jews so that they couldn’t help wage war on them and go up from the land:  Writes HaRav Immanuel Bernstein shlita, based on the Beis HaLevi zt”l: “The phrase that the Haggadah is currently discussing refers to the Egyptians being evil to us, in which case we would have expected the verse cited to be one of the many that describe the evil things that they did to us.  Instead, the Haggadah cites a verse that, if anything, describes their fears of the evil that we might do to them!”


And he writes further: “Additionally, the wordsוירעוּ אתנוּthemselves are actually not so easy to translate in a straightforward manner.  Apparently, they mean to say “they did evil to us”, but the way to say that in Hebrew is ‘וירעוּ לנוּ’!...... If we are to translate the words ‘וירעוּ אתנוּ’ accurately, it will emerge as saying they made us evil.  Is this true, and if so, how?


As Paroah considers his plans for the Jewish People, he knows that in order to achieve his goal, he will need the support of his nation and the understanding of the nations in the region.  To spontaneously single out a group of people for persecution may lead to feelings of unrest among his citizens and neighbors……..


The solution to the problem is: ‘וירעוּ אתנוּ’ -- they made us evil, i.e., they portrayed us as an evil People who were only looking to exploit the weaknesses of the gracious host country in order to take over when the time was right.  Looked at in this way, any countermeasures against this dangerous and subversive people would be no more than those of a faithful monarch defending the interests of his people.” (From Darkness to Destiny:  The Haggadah Experience).  


יא) So, the Haggadah describes how we cried out to Hashem, and He heard our voice.  Says HaRav Yaakov Galinsky zt”l (based on something the Ponovezher Rav zt”l told him): “A Jew who turns to Hashem when he is in trouble shows where his heart really lies:  

That he belongs in the world of Emunah and Tefillah, that he still has a connection to Hashem.  This was the case with the Bnei Yisrael in Egypt.  This was a nation who had sunk to the forty-ninth level of tumah.  They stopped performing bris milah, they worshipped idols, and the Angels couldn’t tell the difference between them and the Egyptians.  But then, in their distress, they cried out to their Creator.” (From V’Higadeta Pesach Haggadah).


יבּ) On the topic of Matzah and Marror, there is a beautiful thought from Rebbe Shlomo of Radomsk zt”l:  He explains that Matzah represents faith in Hashem and belief in Him.  However, Marror is very bitter.  Them together, he explains, shows that we have faith that all the bitter things in life are actually good and for the best.


יג) Now, with Hashem’s Help, we will close off the insights with a beautiful story: ‘Before Pesach, R’ Yisroel [Salanter zt”l] was once unable to be present during the baking of his shmurah matzah, in which he was extremely meticulous.  His disciples, who had undertaken to watch over the baking in his place, asked him for directions.  R’ Yisroel instructed them to be extremely careful not to upset the woman who kneaded the dough and not to rush her, for she was a widow, and to upset her would be a violation of the prohibition against oppressing widows and orphans. “The kashrus of the matzos is not complete,” added R’ Yisroel, “with hidurim in the laws of Pesach alone, but with meticulous observance of the laws of behavior toward other people as well.”’ (From Sparks of Mussar).


Hashem, please send us Eliyahu HaNavi this Pesach, who will bring us back in Teshuva to You!  Please redeem us this year!  It has been a long Gallus, and even though we do not deserve to be redeemed, please redeem us just like You did our fathers and mothers back in Mitzraim.  


A Chag Kasher V’Sameach to all!


L’Shanah HaBaah Bi’Yerushalayim!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mussar Drosha: Tzav

Mussar Drosha: Tzav:


Parshas Vayikra, as we read, spoke a lot about Korbanos/offerings.  And now, as we head into Parshas Tzav, we find even more topics on Korbanos.  

In the third Aliyah, the Torah tells us ‘And if from the flesh of the sacrifice of his Peace-offering will be eaten on the third day….. it will be rejected….’ Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Toras Kohanim, which explains that this verse is referring to one who intended at the time of slaughter that it would be eaten on the third day.  This is called Piggul.  

But, let us ask; what really is a Korban?  True, as we know, it is when we offer something to Hashem, but what is the “deeper” significance of it?  

So, HaRav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch zt"l explains that the wordקרבּןcomes from the rootקרב”-- to come close, or near.  “It is קרבת אלקים, nearness to G-d” he says “which is striven for by a קרבן.”

Unfortunately though, as of right now, we cannot offer Korbanos nor do we have a Mizbeach/Altar to bring them on or perform the special services with (may Hashem, He is Blessed, restore it very, very swiftly in everyone's days, Amein).  However, in the stead of Korbanos, we have our Tefillos.  

Tefillos/Prayers are now (one of) our vehicle(s) to come closer to Hashem.  And they must be done properly -- just like a Korban must -- in order to truly bring us closer to Hashem.  You couldn’t just slaughter an animal and say it's an offering:  There are special directions to follow, things to do, etc.  So too with Davening, it is not just saying some words……
----------------------------------------
But now let us think again about the concept of Piggul:  If our Tefillos are supposed to be like Korbanos, and a Korban was rendered unfit because of improper intentions, then we must be very careful to concentrate on our Davening and have the proper intentions -- otherwise it could be unfit, Chas V’Shalom!  But how do we rid ourselves of the mundane thoughts that the Yetzer Hara keeps throwing into our minds, which could, Chas V’Shalom, mess up our Tefillah?
----------------------------------------
The Torah tells us at the beginning of this parsha ‘And the fire of the Altar shall burn on [lit. in] it.’  The Mizbeach can symbolize Davening (as Korbanos were offered on it):  So perhaps the above passuk/verse comes to teach us that we must have fire in Davening -- we must Daven with passion and warmth.  

And we might also add that this could be one of the lessons of the word 'בּוֹ' (which means ‘in it’ or ‘in him’):  A person must kindle the spark inside of themselves into a roaring blaze to Hashem and put it into the Tefillos.  And, partly based upon some Chassidishe Vorts that I heard (from HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita, on TorahAnytime.com), perhaps we may suggest that this is what the words towards the beginning of the passuk are alluding to:זאת תּוֹרת העלה-- you want to know the secret to rising up high? (This gotten from the word Olah --which comes from the root of ascending).  You must Daven with fire and fervor!  Really say the holy words of Tefillah/Prayer with passion -- this will bring you closer to Hashem like a Korban (see above), and raise you up.
----------------------------------------
Alternatively,בּוֹcan mean 'in him'.  The passuk can then be rendered 'And the fire of the Mizbeach shall burn in him' -- which teaches us that if you want to Daven with fire and passion (or do anything else for that matter with it), it must come from within.  You must kindle an Aish Kodesh/Holy Fire inside of yourself.  (By Aish Kodesh, we of course mean a burning desire to come close to Hashem, and warmth and fervor).
----------------------------------------
Or perhaps we may suggest something different:  The Be'er Moshe zt"l (quoted in Nesivos Shalom) explains that בּוֹ ('in it') alludes to the strength of Torah.  And HaRav Shalom Rosner shlita (on OU.org) explains this to mean that the Aish Kodesh is in the Torah.  Based upon this (and some on the Nesivos Shalom zt"l), we may perhaps suggest thatבּוֹ can be referring to the Davening.  In order to Daven with the proper passion, we must really concentrate on the words of Tefillah, for the Aish Kodesh is in them.
----------------------------------------
But how does all this answer our above question -- how to rid ourselves of mundane thoughts during Davening?  So, there is a mashal/parable quoted in the book Toras Avos:   
Imagine there is someone who wants to cut down an entire forest in order to be able to build a city there.  But, after cutting down tree after tree, he realizes that his days will be over before the trees will be gone!  So what did he do?  He lit a fire and it burned down the entire forest very quickly!  So too, explains Sefer Toras Avos, if a Jew wants to wage war with improper thoughts, you must light up a roaring Aish Kodesh, and it will burn away your improper thoughts. (Quoted in Nesivos Shalom).
----------------------------------------
Now we have the answer to our question!  If you want to Daven properly, and get rid of mundane thoughts which mess up your concentration, you must say the Tefillah with warmth, fervor and passion.  But don’t get discouraged if at first it is hard to have the proper fervor:  The Torah says in the second verse of this parshaהעלה על מוֹקדה על המזבּח (‘the Olah that burns upon the Altar’):  But in a Torah Scroll, the letterמof the wordמוֹקדה(‘burns’) is written small.  This comes to teach us that sometimes at first you might only “burn” a little while Davening -- i.e. you might only have a little passion.  But keep trying!  For if you do, with the Help of Hashem, your fervor will grow and grow until you have a roaring Aish Kodesh!
HaKadosh Baruch Hu, please send us Eliyahu HaNavi this Pesach, announcing the coming of Mashiach, son of Dovid, Your Anointed one, when You will rebuild the Beis HaMikdash and all its vessels, and we will once again be able to bring Korbanos to you!
A Gut Shabbos and a Chag Kasher V’Sameach to all!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mussar Drosha: Vayikra

Mussar Drosha: Vayikra:



Baruch Hashem, we have the privilege now of starting Sefer Vayikra -- and where better to start than the first word of it?  


The Torah says  ‘...ויקרא אל משה וידבר ה’ אליו’ (‘And He called to Moshe and Hashem spoke to him….’).  But, in a Sefer Torah, the א of the word ‘ויקרא’ is written small.  And in this Dvar Torah, B’Ezras Hashem, I would like to concentrate on some of the many lessons we learn from this:



#1:  Says the Yismach Yisroel (the second Aleksander Rebbe -- Rebbe Yerachmiel Yisroel Yitzchok Danziger zt”l), the small א in the word ויקרא teaches us that every single thing in life -- no matter how “small” it might seem -- is Hashem calling us (as Vayikra means ‘And He called’). (From Torah Wellsprings; an online Chassidus booklet compiled by Rebbe Boruch Twersky shlita and sent out by my Rebbe, HaRav Tal Moshe Zwecker shlita).  



#2:  It appears to me that the small א carries a huge message in life:  Some people, may Hashem save us, (especially children, likely) mistakenly think that the people who look so great and boast of their riches, greatness, etc. are the great and successful people -- so that is how they can show others they are great as well!



But this is not the truth:  With the small א here, the holy Torah teaches us that, you know what a great person is (symbolized by the א -- the first letter in the Aleph-Beis)?  Someone who is humble and not always trying to show off.  That is a true א person!  



And, inspired by a title of part of a Vort by HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus zt”l (in Tiferes Shimshon), perhaps we may say that this is why children (at least used to) start with learning Parshas Vayikra:  Because one of the first things a child should learn is to to be humble, and not arrogant, Chas V’Shalom.  



#3:  The letter אל”ף (if spelled out), notes the Kli Yakar zt”l, has the connotation of teaching, for it has the same spelling as the word that is sometimes used to mean ‘teach’ -- אלף.

Says Rebbe Pinchos of Koritz zt”l:  “The א is small:  Teach yourself to be small.” (Quoted in Lekach Tov).  By small, he of course means to not think of yourself as great, Chas V’Shalom.  Rather, to be humble.  



#4: “Says Rabbi Assi:  Because of what do children begin [studying Torah] with Toras Kohanim (Sefer Vayikra)?  But because children are pure and Korbanos are pure.  Let pure ones come and engage in pure things.” (From Midrash Vayikra Rabbah).



Inspired by the title of part of the Vort from Rav Pincus zt”l on this Midrash, perhaps we may say that one of the most extremely important foundations for a child to learn is pureness.  This is one of the foundations of life -- and very important to learn at a young age.  
---------------------------------------
All these insights we glean from the small א in the word ויקרא are just a few of the many.  And they are so very important to life -- whether we learn them when we are a child in Cheder, or when we are a 95 year old even.  





But overall, one of the big lessons we learn from the small א is how much can be derived from every last detail in the Torah:  From one letter -- small letter even -- there are so, so many insights and lessons to be gleaned.  Just imagine one word, or sentence!  Indeed, the holy Torah is endlessly deep.


A Gut Nacht to everyone!