Halacha for Friday 6 Nissan 5781 March 19 2021

Parashat Vayikra - The Virtue of Humility

From the team at Halacha Yomit
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

The Parasha states: “Hashem called to Moshe, speaking to him from the Ohel Moed” (Vayikra 1:1).

Our Chachamim said in the Midrash (Tanchuma), Moshe Rabbeinu was standing outside the Ohel Moed, because he was in awe to enter, for the cloud of glory had descended on it. Immediately it follows with, “And He called to him”. Rashi explains that “calling” is an affectionate term (beckoning), as it is written concerning the ministering angels “They beckon one another” (Yeshaya 6:3). This means that Hashem was fond of Moshe, and therefore he called him in an affectionate way, to enter the Ohel Moed. This is why it states “He called” to Moshe.

Now, let us we may delve further. The Torah writes the Hebrew word for “And He called” with a small letter “aleph”, why is this?

Our Chachamim answer that Hashem commanded Moshe Rebbeinu to write “And He called”, and Moshe Rebbeinu knew that when Hashem “calls” someone it is a display of affection, but due to Moshe’s sense of humility, he was reluctant to write this term of endearment, since all will see that Hashem “calls” him. Therefore he wrote the letter “aleph” smaller, thereby making it a less noticeable letter, and people will then read it differently, as, “Hashem chanced upon Moshe,” which is a less flattering term. As is found with the wicked Bilam, “And Hashem chanced upon Bilam” (Bamidbar 23:4). The Hebrew for “called” without the “aleph” translating as “he chanced upon,” happenstance and not calling him specifically from a sense of endearment.

With this we may understand the Midrash (Shemot Rabba 47:6) on the passuk, “Moshe came down from Mt. Sinai with the two Tablets of the Testimony in his hand. As Moshe descended from the mountain, he did not realise that the skin of his face had become luminous, when [Hashem] had spoken to him. When Aron and all the Bnei Yisrael saw that the skin of Moshe’s face was shining with a brilliant light, they were afraid to come close to him.” (Shemot 3:29-30). (Am Yisrael were in awe to approach Moshe because of the shining light emanating from his face). They ask in the Midrash, from where did his face shine? They explain that there was a small amount of ink left over from writing the Torah. From this residue of ink from Moshe’s quill - Hashem gently smeared it on Moshe’s face, and it became “horns of splendour”.

This requires a deeper understanding, since Hashem Himself provided Moshe the ink, quill and parchment to write the Sefer Torah, if so how could there be any residue of ink?

This may be understood as follows. Ordinarily, when the quill is loaded with ink to write, there is a small residue, or even missing a little ink, prior to  a person completing. However, with Hashem, He knows precisely how much ink is required to write the Torah. So the ink was meant to finish exactly when he wrote the word “And He called” with the final letter “aleph”. But because Moshe Rabbeinu wrote “And He called” with a small “aleph,” a small amount remained. When Hashem saw what Moshe had done due to his virtue of humility, He made his face shine from that ink residue. And so Hashem rewarded him based on his own behaviour, according to his humility thereby praising his actions.

Our Chachamim say, “Whoever flees from honour, honour pursues him, and one who pursues honour it flees from him.” The Chafetz Chaim z”l was once asked by one of his pupils, since both the one who flees from honour and the one who pursues honour, both are still avoiding honour, what then is the fundamental difference in outcome between them? The Chafetz Chaim said that the difference is that when a person passes away, the one who feels from honour is no longer able to flee from honour, and then the honour will catch him up!

We all remember the honour that was accorded to Maran Rabbeinu ztz”l, for all his life he fled from honour!

Shabbat Shalom!

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

A Rainbow

One Who Looks at a Rainbow Our Sages (Chagiga 16a) state: “The eyes of one who gazes at a rainbow are dimmed, as the verse (Yechezkel 1) states, ‘Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so is the radiance around and this is the appearance of the glory of Hashem.&r......

Read Halacha

Things Which Cause Forgetfulness

Five Things Which Cause One to Forget What He Has Learned The Gemara (Horayot 13b) states: “Our Sages taught: Five things cause one to forget the Torah one has learned: One who eats food which a cat or mouse have eaten from, one who eats the heart of an animal, one who eats olives regularly, ......

Read Halacha

Must One Recite a Blessing Before Merely Tasting a Food?

We have already discussed several times that regarding the laws of Blessings of Enjoyment recited before eating that there is no limit for reciting a blessing before eating, meaning that no matter what amount of food or beverage one eats or drinks, one must still recite a blessing. The reason for th......

Read Halacha


Question: At what point does it become permissible to speak after reciting a blessing on food? Is one permitted to speak immediately after placing the food in one’s mouth and tasting the food’s flavor or must one wait until one swallows the food?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (40a) and Rashi ibid. state that one may not speak in between reciting a blessing on food and eating it because this constitutes an interruption between the blessing and the eating and there is no longer any connection between them, as we have discussed severa......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha