Last night I was privileged to attend a Yom Hashoah commemoration. A Holocaust survivor discussed his experience in Buchenwald Block 66, also the place where Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Lau were held.
In the question and answer session, he was asked how he kept his faith in such difficult times. He answered by referencing a story with Promo Levi. Primo Levi, an Italian Jew, and part of the Holocaust experience, once said that “those” people (Jews) in the corner who are praying are going to survive, as they have something to hold onto and live for. With this was the question answered.
Moshe is known as the humblest man that walked the earth. The Torah testifies to this. The greatest proof to Moshe’s humility comes by way of the enigmatic verse in the Parsha Vayelech, that Moshe “walked.” All the meforshim ask, where did Moshe go? One approach is that the great leader, Moshe, went individually to all the tribes.
We see further evidence of Moshe’s humility when he visited Rabbi Akiva’s shiur and sat in the “eighth” row (in the “back” of the room).
The most well-known verse that “seems” to indicate Moshe’s humility is, “And God called to Moshe, and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying…” (Leviticus 1:1), where the word Vayikra ends with a small aleph.
One must be careful to realize there are two parties in this verse, Moshe and G-d. The Baal Haturim chooses to interpret the small aleph as indicating Moshe’s humility in that Moshe wanted to use a language of “Vayikar” that G-d only coincidentally appeared to him like Bilaam.
However, the Chasam Sofer asks a stunning question on this. Did Moshe have the right to “edit” the Bible? Is G-d not the editor-in-chief of the Torah? This is a powerful question that must be addressed.
I would suggest that the small aleph is referring to G-d, Himself. G-d was the architect and final editor of the Bible, and it was G-d when calling Moshe in the Ohel Moed who wanted to emphasize his own existence with a small aleph, after all aleph stands for “Echad” one.
This can be why the Torah begins with the letter beis, Breishis, and not an aleph, because G-d didn’t want to start with an identification of Himself, but rather with His Briah. This was a G-d that “so to speak” took counsel with the angels in creating the world just to exhibit the importance of humbling oneself to inquire of others.
It’s no surprise then that Moshe was the humblest man that ever lived. He enjoyed “company” with the humblest of beings, G-d. He conversed with Him “Face to Face” which Rashi explains means Moshe had a level of ease in talking with G-d. They shared a familiarity with each other and of course Moshe was taught the Torah in Heavens from G-d, Himself.
My late relative, Rav Avraham Genechovsky zt”l, provided me with the following phenomenal drash relating to Purim. The Gemara (Taanis 29a) states, “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Bisimcha – when Adar arrives, one should rejoice.” Rav Avraham related this to another Gemara (Beitzah 15b) that says, “One who plants a tree called ‘Adar’ is guaranteed that his property will endure.” Therefore, as Adar is symbolic of happiness, we may say that one who “plants” happiness into his heart will endure.
I heard a topically related thought from Rabbi Kornfeld shlita, rosh kollel of Kollel Iyun Hadaf in Israel. The Gemara says, “A pumpkin is only shown in a dream to one who fears Heaven with all his might” (Berachos 56b). He explained the meaning of this passage in profound fashion. The characteristic of a pumpkin is that the more it grows the deeper it sinks into the ground. So too, the true sign of one who fears G-d is that as he grows and becomes greater, he sinks lower into the ground, ensconced in humility.
In summation, planting happiness within and falling in humility as you grow could be the right plan to prosper.