Monday, December 15, 2008

Enlarged and Diminished Letters in Torah: Series Introduction


Rabbi Hayim David HaLevi, z"l (1924/5-1998), the former Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, was a Kabbalist who wrote many volumes of wise commentary, including "Mekor Hayim HaShalem" (The Complete Source of Life), a comprehensive code of Jewish Law. He was born in Jerusalem and studied under Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel at Porat Yosef Yeshivah.

In R’ HaLevi’s 9-Volume series of She’elot and Teshuvot (Jewish legal responsa) entitled "Aseh L’khah Rav" (In the Manner of the Rav), in Vol. 5 he begins the book with a section entitled “Quntres Torah Min Hashamaim" (Booklet of Heavenly Torah). In that section beginning on page 58 you will find the piece on the big and small letters.

R’ HaLevi tells us that whenever we encounter a small letter in our writings, that this indicates a person in the narrative has missed the mark. That s/he made a less than ideal choice. Had the right intention, but sinned, perhaps. The diminutive letter is there to draw our attention to it and to ask questions. Ultimately, to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors.

And where a letter appears enlarged in our Holy texts, R' HaLevi teaches us that this is where G@d has gifted us with a deed of extra loving kindness. This is to teach us gratitude, awe, and knowledge of our dependence on the One G@d from Whom everything comes.

Ameyn selah.

Originally begun 2006, from Netivat Sofrut
Cross-posted on Facebook
Copyright A. Barclay, all rights reserved.

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