There is a penmanship curiosity in the first word of this week’s parasha,Vayikra. The word “vayikra” has a tiny “alef” at the end of the word. It looks as if the writer of the Torah forgot the alef and then went back and added it in, as any one of us might do. In writing a letter or card and, then, realizing we made a mistake, not wanting to write the whole piece over, we stick a small letter in where it belongs. But this small alef is not a quirk in one imperfect text. It is consciously copied or printed that way in every Torah scroll or Chumash (Torah commentary) or TaNaKH (Bible.) In the mystical work known as the Zohar, the tiny alef is said to teach that silence is important in our relationship with God. Alef is a silent letter. Therefore, its miniscule presence in this Torah portion that teaches about the earliest efforts at Jewish worship (the sacrificial cult), is there to remind us that silence is a way to connect with God. (Zohar 1:3b). In general, Jewish prayer is very “noisy”—lots of words and lots of singing. But, we do have moments of silence in communal worship, and we can seek them each day as we connect with God through our own personal moments of blessing, thanksgiving, petition and confession.
Rabbi D. Feingold