This past Sunday, we celebrated my son, Levi's upshernish. One of the most heartwarming moments was when Levi sang the Aleph Beis and many joined along. You could feel it in the air. As one of our friends told me afterwards, “I don’t think I was the only one who felt, ‘Wow, even in South Dakota, there’s a room full of people singing the Hebrew Aleph Beis.’”
The Aleph Beis are very special and significant.
Not only are these the letters of our ancestral language, that we have learnt and spoken for millennia, it is a holy language. The 3rd Century Mishnah refers to Hebrew as "Lashon Hakodesh," the Holy Tongue, because this was the language in which the Torah was written and taught, and the letters of the Aleph Beis which G-d spoke during Creation when He said "Let there be Light."
The singing that day reminded me of a very important teaching from the Rebbe, who said that "when you know Aleph, you should teach Aleph."
Sometimes we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel unqualified. We know our failures and our faults, and we don't feel like we could be a role model for others. The imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.
But in reality, each of us has the responsibility, and mandate, to be there for others, and teach whatever we know and share what we do have to share. Even knowing just one letter, Aleph, already qualifies you to teach Aleph. We don't need to wait until we have our PhD in a given field before we can share the knowledge and experience we have already accumulated, and we definitely don't need our PhD in Judaism before we can start meaningfully living Jewishly.
If you know Aleph, teach Aleph, and start working on learning Beis, and then teach that too.
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.