A few weeks ago we looked at why the name of Moses does not occur even once in Parashat T’tzavveh. In today’s sidra it is Aaron’s name that does not figure even once. The omission is the more puzzling in that Vayikra deals with the sacrifices in which the priesthood led by Aaron play such a leading role.
One view is that Moses thought it would be arrogant to write the word as vayikra, which indicates that God singled him out for a Divine call. In his humility he wanted to write vayikar, “And He happened”, without a final alef, as if it were by chance that God spoke to him. An analogy is Num. 23:4, where God “happened to Bilam”. God objected to Moses leaving out the alef, so Moses wrote an alef – but a small one.
In relation to this week’s sidra, God must have had His reasons for not mentioning Aaron by name, but Moses was concerned that this would appear to belittle his brother’s dignity. Out of love for Aaron he therefore minimised his own role and this is why he wrote a small alef, as if to say, “Human beings play only a small role in God’s purposes”.
When Aaron saw that even the great leader did not claim greatness for himself but said that it is God who controls all that happens, he understood that his own role of high priest did not entitle him to any feelings of egotism. It was not he or Moses but God who made the big decisions about history.