The first word of our parsha; Vayikra begs discussion of why the small “aleph” in Vayikra, and what it indicates regarding Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity and standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael.
We are told how Hashem, Kav’yochal, would call gently, affectionately “Moshe, Moshe” in a voice for Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears only and Moshe would respond “Here I am.” (Rashi on Perek 1, posuk 1 Metsuda Linear Chumash & Rashi with footnotes)
Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, would fight “tooth to nail” that this first word, which would typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar” as when Hashem “happened to meet Bila’am” (Rashi on Perek 1, posuk 1) later, in Parsha Balak.
But Hashem’s wish for “Vayikra” carried the day, although he made the concession of the small “aleph.” This dialogue speaks volumes about the Dar’chim of humility, modesty and selflessness of Moshe Rabbeinu, his dedication to Hashem and to the people he leads, the B’nei Yisrael. But let kindness and humility not be confused with weakness. For we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was a strong, yet just leader.
This author holds that it is against the meaning and background of the very first word of our Parsha, that later in the Parsha, Torah states the posuk, “If the King commits a sin by unintentionally violating one of Hashem’s Commandments which he should not have done …” (Vayikra Perek 4, posuk 22). Rabbi Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah” (page 238) comments “When in a position of power, have the courage to admit your mistakes.” And Rashi explains on the posuk; Fortunate is the the generation whose leader is concerned to bring an atonement [offering] for his inadvertent transgressions — all the more so that he regrets his intentional transgressions.
Rabbi Pliskin adds the comment that “the king was a person with much power, and power gives a person such high feelings about himself that he is unlikely to admit that he has done anything wrong. For this reason, when the king with unlimited power admits that he erred and regrets what he has done, it is fortunate for his generation.” (Attributed to Maskil Ledovid.)
Rabbi Pliskin then adds that “People who are power-hungry have a … tendency to deny making mistakes. When such a person is in a position of authority, he is likely to consider himself so perfect that whatever he does and says must be correct.” The more power one has, the more compelling is the importance of possessing intellectual honesty and to admitting one’s error. (“Growth Through Torah”, page 238) After all, the leader or king of a generation sets the tone, the norm of how those of his constituency treat each other.
When a leader can be sooo colored, in his decisions and actions, by his own self-interest and/or self-aggrandisement that he will do anything and everything and at all costs — including bribery, graft, influence peddling, doing special favors for his friends and more in order to maintain his office, his title, his personal prestige and self-enrichment, how can we not question the true motivations of that leader at every step of his ill-gotten career? How can we not wonder what cynical Sinat Chinom lurks behind this total divorce from Torah, from his roots in Eretz Yisrael? How can a leader do, as Shem Mishmuel put it, “defile Klal Yisrael both in the physical and spiritual sense?” (Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Zachor, page 159)
How can a leader of a nation who, with Hashem’s help, has utterly defeated an enemies of vastly superior numbers in five previous wars, suddenly now be complicit with an Amalek-like enemy, both by not fighting Arab terror to a decisive, absolute, final defeat and by attempting to destroy the very physical and spiritual fabric of Jewish unity and the Jewish people? How can a leader of such a nation now proclaim; “I’m too tired, too tired to win …?”
And is this seemingly willful complicity, in the name of blind Sinat Chinom toward anything Jewish, with Amalek-like Arab Terror by way of Kassam Missiles and Islamikazi Suicide bombers, in and of itself not Amalek-like in its attempt at defilement? A few weeks ago, we read Parsha Zachor which mandated “to wipe out the memory of Amalek and … to remember their evil deeds and their ambush, in order to inspire hatred of them?” (Artscroll Chumash , Devarim — Rashi Commentary on Zachor, page 1066) Are our leaders hiding their misguided hatred of anything Jewish behind the facade; “I’m too tired …?”
May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren; the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron (may they soon be restored to new homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time), as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard (may he soon know freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael) be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream.
May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Meiyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.