“And the Rebbe Teaches the Small Children Alef Beis…”
30 Menachem Av, 5742 · August 19, 1982
The Lubavitcher Rebbes were emphatic that children be taught the Hebrew letters and vowels separately, and only afterwards how to pronounce them together — to recite: “Kumatz-Alef — Uh”. Each individual letter, vowel and sound was given at Sinai, and therefore, each must be articulated in its own right.
My father-in-law explained the meaning of Kumatz-Alef — Uh: It instills within the child the first letter of the Ten Commandments, the Alef of “Anochi — I am the Lord your G-d.” “Anochi” encapsulates the whole first Commandment, which encapsulates all Ten Commandments, which encapsulate the entire Written Torah, which includes the entire Oral Torah… This is all included in the Alef of “Anochi.”
The letters of “Anochi” themselves form initials: “Ana Nafshi Ksovis Yehovis – I have inscribed and given My Soul in Torah.” The Alef of “Ana — I” refers to G-d A-lmighty’s very Essence. At that level vowels are entirely immaterial, for a vowel is already commentary on the letter. Children, therefore, must first be given the chance to absorb the Alef on its own — representing G-d’s absolute oneness, and this forms the very foundation of their Judaism.