And He called to Moses (1:1)

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch entered cheder on the day after Yom Kippur of 1792, 11 days after his third birthday. The child's grandfather, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, instructed Reb Avraham the melamed1 to begin the first lesson with the opening verses of the Book of Vayikra.

Following the lesson, little Mendel asked: "Why is the word 'vayikra' written with a little Aleph?"

For a long while Rabbi Schneur Zalman sat in a deep meditative trance. Then he explained:

"In the Torah scroll, there are three sizes of letters: regular letters, oversized letters, and miniature letters. The opening word of Leviticus is written in the Torah scroll with a miniature 'Aleph', as a testimony to the humility of Moses.

"In the first verse of the Book of Chronicles, the name of the first man, Adam, is written with an oversized Aleph. Adam was aware of his greatness. All too aware. He was, after all, the flawless 'original' human being, 'the work of G‑d's hands.' His inflated ego and self-assurance were what led to his downfall.

"But humility does not mean that one underestimates himself. To do so would result in an unforgivable waste of the resources and talents one has been granted. Moses knew who he was. He knew that he was the only human being capable of grasping the all-embracing wisdom of G‑d in its entirety and teaching it to Israel. He knew that it was through him that the Almighty chose to communicate with mortal man. Nonetheless he was humble. The notion that any of this ought to bolster his ego would have been ludicrous to him; on the contrary, his recognition of his gifts only served to feed his humility. 'Had any other man been given what has been granted me,' Moses would have said, 'he most certainly would have accomplished far more than I.'

"This is the true definition of humility," concluded the Rebee. "And so the Torah states2: 'And the man Moses was the most humble man upon the face of the earth'."