Torah Tidbits with Rabbi Shmuel Stein

At the age of 103, Rav Yitzchak Dov Koppelman traveled from Switzerland to America to attend the Bar Mitzva of his great grandson. A large crowd gathered to hear words of Torah from the Rav. It was Parshas Vayikra, and Rabbi Koppelman began his talk by citing a Medrash Rabba in this week’s Parsha:

The Torah states: Vayikra Hashem el Moshe - And Hashem called to Moshe. The Torah writes the word Vayikra (He called) with a small letter alef. The Medrash wonders why the Torah uses a small letter alef when writing the wordVayikra

The Medrash explains that the Torah is teaching us an important lesson. Moshe Rabbeinu would approach the Mishkan to speak to Hashem, yet he never entered until Hashem called for him to enter. The Torah uses a small alef to express the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu, and to show his derech eretz that he would wait to be called by Hashem before he entered.

The Medrash then concludes with an astonishing statement: “If Moshe Rabbeinu would not have had the appropriatederech eretz to wait to be called, a dead carcass would have been better than him.” Rav Koppelman concluded that we see from this Medrash the importance of derech eretz. Moshe Rabbeinu brought down the Torah for the Jewish people, yet if he would not have had the proper derech eretz it would not have been worth anything. As much as we strive to study and acquire the knowledge of Torah, we must always ensure that is based on a foundation of proper derech eretz

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Shmuel Stein
High School Judaic Studies