A Moment of Silence
This week we begin the third book of the Torah. Called Leviticus in English, the book of Vayikra is named, as are all of the books in the Hebrew Bible, after its first word. Here, after concluding the book of Shemot with all of its mitzvot and speeches from God, the very next book begins with the word vayikra, with God “calling out” to Moshe. If God was just speaking with Moshe all throughout the last book of the Torah, why the need to “call out” to Moshe now?
The way that the word vayikra is written in the Torah is itself odd as well. The final aleph at the end of the word is written half the size of the other letters. The Zohar explains that the secret of the aleph is that out of this letter that makes no sound of its own emerges the potential for God to connect with the word. In fact, it is taught in a midrash that when God gave us the Ten Commandments, the only thing actually uttered by God was the letter aleph at the beginning of the first commandment.
Perhaps there is something to be learned from this calling silence. Perhaps it is only in silence that we can truly hear the call of Divinity, of connection, of God.
For many of us, the moments when we are closest to silence happen during our time at camp (as loud as it may be at moments!). I bless us all that we should take the lesson of the small aleph of Vayikra to heart, and listen for God’s call in moments of silence.
Questions for the Shabbat Table:
- Have you had moments of silence, whether at Camp or elsewhere, in which you felt moved spiritually? If so, how did the silence affect that experience?
- Why do you think it is that silence is often seen as helpful for spirituality? Why do you think that we’re constantly surrounded with noise?