The Mystery of the Small Alef

The book of Vayikra opens with the words: “Vayikra, He called to Moshe and God spoke to him from Ohel Moed, the tent of meeting”.

If you open up a Chumash, you will find that the last letter of the word “Vayikra” is written in a smaller print than the rest of the word.

According to the Zohar, the reason why the alef is small is because although the mishkan was technically complete, it would only fully be complete when it would arrive in the Land of Israel.

The small alef reminds us that full spiritual completeness can only be achieved in the Land of Israel.

However, this does not mean that if you live in Israel your spiritual life is complete and if you live outside of Israel you lack spirituality. On the contrary, I have seen many who have reached higher spiritual levels outside of Israel. However, this is not the ideal.

Why is it that so many in Israel are lacking spirituality?

The Six Day Work Week- Most Israelis only have Shabbat off as a family. A large number of Israelis totally disregard the day and don’t observe it at all. Others rush through the prayer service in order to have more time to eat and get some rest.

Holy Sites- Although Israel is full of holy sites- the Kotel (Westen Wall), Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount), Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb), Ma’arat HaMachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs), Yoseph’s Tomb, Tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik etc, many are difficult to get to, dangerous or even off limits without a bulletproof bus and an armed guard. Many tourists have the opportunity to spend time at these places as part of their vacations. However, a person who is employed or home with young children often does not have the time and resources to visit these sites on a regular basis.

Rote- many Israelis have been praying their whole lives and practically know the siddur (prayerbook) by heart. Because they see daily prayer as an obligation that must be fulfilled they rush through the service in order to complete daily services before work, leaving little room for proper intent and even less room for spirituality.

A five day work week, better access to the holy sites and a synagogue with slower services could alleviate some of the problems that the average Israeli looking for spirituality may face.

An even better solution would be to look for a place to be inspired. Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav (where the horrible attack took place last week) as well as many other Religious-Zionist Yeshivot and Midrashot give their students a strong spiritual foundation that they can take with them to the army and beyond. These students can serve as an inspiration to us all.

Let’s do what we can to find ways to elevate the level of spirituality in our communities and throughout the world.