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The Inkwell

The Student News Site of Jewish Leadership Academy

The Inkwell

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Moses and the Inkwell

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[All the information found in this article comes from an interview with Rabbi Shaffer]

 

In the Torah Moses is described as literally glowing after he returned from receiving the second set of tablets from Mt. Sinai. In fact, his glow is described as being so bright that for the rest of his life he had to wear a mask so as to not blind the Israelites. He could only take off his mask when he was teaching them Torah or speaking to Hashem. The Midrash (a compilation of various commentaries on the Torah) asks one simple question: where did these “rays of glory” come from anyways?

The Midrash gives three different answers but I will be focusing on one of them as it involves the namesake of this newspaper, an inkwell. The second time that Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the tablets, Hashem gave Moses a quill, parchment, and an inkwell and dictated the entirety of the Torah for Moses to transcribe. This inkwell contained the perfect amount of ink to write every single letter in all five books of the Torah. The transcription was running flawlessly until he reached the chapter of Vayikra. The first words of this chapter are “Vayikra el-Moshe vayidaber Hashem” (וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר ה׳), meaning “Hashem called out to Moses and spoke”. Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא) means to call out, and Moses felt that it was a bit too conceited to say that Hashem called out to him, so out of humility he shrunk the size of the last letter alef (א) and made it look like the word was vayikar (וַיִּקְרָ) which has the connotation of happenstance. The word vayikar is a little more humble since it means that Moses and Hashem just so happened to bump into each other rather than the creator of the universe called out specifically to Moses (and as a side note, we still write out Torahs with a smaller alef as tribute to this). After completing the writing there was a singular drop of ink left since there was the exact right amount of ink in the inkwell needed to write every single letter down and Moses decided to write one letter smaller than all the rest. Since Moses is human he accidentally spilled the drop of ink right after he finished his transcription. This drop of ink got on his hand and he wiped it off on his brow. That is what gave him his glow.

Writing vayikra with a small alef was purely Moses’s innovation in an attempt to be humble and that’s what gave him his glow. We learn from this that human innovation and humility are what brings light to the world. We sincerely hope that this will be the mission of the JLA Inkwell.

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About the Contributor
Jake Kravetz, Editor, 10th Grade
Jake a. Kravetz, 10th grade, is a founding member of The Inkwell. He enjoys writing about pretty much anything under the sun as well as producing comics for the paper.

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