… I am meek and lowly in heart: …
The Hebrew text of Scriptures contains several letters that differ in size, some bigger than the overall text, some smaller; there is even one that is broken in two. We find such a scribal oddity in what corresponds in English to the last letter of the first word of the Book of Leviticus, Vayikra, which is noticeably smaller than the rest of the text. The extreme scrutiny Jewish scribes used in replicating this text throughout millennia forbid us to assume a scribal error. Why would Moses then have diminished the ahlef אלף, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the last letter of the word Vayikrah , meaning, "And he (God) called)"?
The oracles Moses wrote down cannot just be read as a chronological string of words giving instructions. In the Hebrew biblical text, everything matters; repetitions have their value in emphasis as well as the placement of certain clauses within the text. The particular choice of certain words and their lexical root also tells us much about the underlying meaning behind the text. We are not used to pay such attention to these things while reading the Bible, but this is part of the cultural context of the writing, and sad to say, many of these vital details are lost in translation.
Scholars do not really have a satisfying answer concerning the diminishing of the aleph in Vayikra, the first word of the Book of Leviticus, but since Torah students hate a vacuum, it has left room for speculation and here is the most widely accepted reason for it. Vayikra means, "And he (God) called …" (Lev. 1:1). Moses whom Hashem defined as the humblest of all men did not think himself worthy of being singled out and called by God, so he originally wrote Vayikar (same word without the last ahlef), a much more impersonal inflection of the verb also used when the Angel of the Lord meets with the idolatrous prophet Balaam. Hashem disapproved of Moses' writing style and of the comparison, so Moses reluctantly acquiesced and d that last aleph, but smaller. This story is probably not true, but thus being so, it has it does have its own homiletic value in teaching us the vaues endorsed by the fathers of the Judaism our Master Yeshua.
The sages here describe Moses, the man blessed with the highest form of divine revelation one could ever be blessed with, as a person who did not even feel worthy of his calling. This sets Moses, the greatest of the teachers and prophets of Israel, as a trend setter, a blue-print for teachers and would-be prophets for al ages; one by which even the coming Messiah should be identified (Deut. 18:15). There is a dictum in Judaism which our Master Yeshua used, "With the same measure that a man uses, it will be measured to him" (Matt. 7:2). It is believed that because Moses humbled himself, God also humbled himself as he called Moses from the Tabernacle (Lev. 1:1). In a certain sense, Hashem is not afraid of humbling himself as he did also in sending Yeshua, the prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15), "who , being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient unto death …" (Phil. 2:8).
Many desire to be teachers and prophets and these are good callings. May these called to such offices never forget the blue-print of self-effacement and humility that is to be the earmark of all those Hashem chooses to teach and lead his flock. That is the standard measure that should be used, not eloquence, depth, or intelligence, but the spirit of utter humility because, "He dwells in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15).