In our Parsha Tetzaveh, the laws regarding the annointment, the vestments and the Avodah (service) of the Kohanim are enunciated for the Jewish people. But wait! Stop the music. Something seems amiss.
Our Parsha, unlike any other place throughout Torah (including Sefer Devarim where Moshe himself speaks to the Jewish people in one continuous Mussar shmooze reviewing the laws and the events of the 40 years in BaMidbar and where each of the Parshiyot are distinguished only by the sections Halachas enunciated) from the time of his birth through Vezos HaBeracha, omits any mention of Moshe Rabbeinu.
A few years ago, Rabbi Wagensberg, in his Shiur on our Parsha, brought sources which gave possible explanations for the absence of Moshe’s name from the Parsha. He mentions the Ba’al HaTurim who stated that Moshe’s name is absent because of his response to Hashem after Cha’it HaEigel. When Hashem stated his intention to destroy B’nai Yisrael and start again creating a people from Moshe’s seed, Moshe responded that “If you do not forgive their sin, blot me out from the book which you have written.” (Midrash Says, Sh’mos, Tetzaveh, P.273) “The Midrash Says” goes on to state that “A Tzaddik’s words must take effect (even if the condition attached to them is not fulfilled). Hashem consequently erased Moshe’s name from Parsha Tetzaveh.” (Midrash Says, Sh’mos, Tetzaveh, P.273)
Rabbi Wagensberg also brought The Gr’a as a source, which it is said, stated that during the week of Parsha Tetzaveh, Moshe was niftar and we commemorate his Yahrtzeit. For that reason, Hashem has omitted Moshe’s name from the Parsha. However in Biblical Times in Eretz Yisrael, Torah was read in a 3 year cycle and not a 1 year cycle. It’s not possible that the Great Vilna Gaon would have overlooked this point. Obviously, something else is at work here.
He then proposes a possible answer as to why Moshe was not openly mentioned, but rather concealed — Nistar in our Parsha. Parsha Tetzaveh has 101 posukim. If one counts the inside, concealed letters of Moshe’s name (Mem, Mem; Shin, Yud, Nun; Hay, Aleph), You find Mem = 40, Yud = 10, Nun = 50 and Aleph = 1. Hashem, it seems, omitted Moshe’s name from the Parsha not out of anger for Moshe but maybe, out of anger at B’nai Yisrael who were far beneath Moshe’s level of Selflessness and Spirituality.
But then a revelation hits me “up alongside the head.” Perhaps one could theorize that the great ones have been taken from us; Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Shlomo Carlebach, Rav Me’ir Kahane, Rav Schach and the many other great names of the great Tzaddikim which go on and on, too numerous to remember; and two years ago at this time, the Tzaddik Adir Zik, who fought with all of his talents, resources and with his last breaths out of an endless, passionate love for his Jewish brethren. Adir Zik was niftar a mere 10 days before the heinous Knesset passage of the Expulsion law which sanctioned the state’s legalized theft of the property and possessions from our fellow Jews while promising compensation for those removed from their homes, possessions and employment. The “solutions” and compensation, despite the regime’s bogus claims of 75% employment and 80% of compensation paid, have been by and large withheld from our Jewish brethren to this day, to this moment.
And it seems that throughout history from the death of the Tzaddik Metushelach which closely preceded the Mabul, the great flood, by a mere 7 days; through to our days when the deaths of a number of great Gedolim closely predated Oslo and, including Tzaddikim like Adir Zik, predated terrible events such that perhaps Hashem can’t bear to have the great Tzaddikim live to witness what Am Yisrael wreaks upon itself.
And another possible answer as to why Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is missing in our Parsha could be out of anger at B’nai Yisrael who were far beneath Moshe’s level of Selflessness and Spirituality. Perhaps Hashem is angry at an Am Yisrael who lacks collective “fire in the belly”, who lacks a loving compassion for their Jewish brethren and for Eretz Yisrael; our Biblical Jewish heritage and legacy. Perhaps collectively, we don’t want our land badly enough. Perhaps collectively, it’s each guy for himself and his own and to heck with Am Yehudi, to heck with “…that place; after all, it’s not my neighborhood at risk.” Not your community?? Not yet. But, “As sure as Hashem made little green apples and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime …”
Perhaps that lack of the mido of loving compassion for Jewish brethren extends among some to a lack of chessed — tzedaka. Hashem may be angry at the collective Am Yisrael for there are some of us who, when the Oni reaches out seeking financial help either for himself, or for the chessed project, the worthy cause he seeks to facilitate, he’s often subjected to responses like; “every time you see me you try to hit me up,” or why don’t you ask him (friend, acquaintance, etc.), ” or, after the two previous disparaging responses, the zinger — strike 3; “you’re coming on kinda strong.”
But perhaps, after Gush Katif, the Shalhevet neighborhood and Beit Shapiro in Chevron, the police and yassamnik violence and brutality brutality in Amona linked here and here and the regime’s plans to expel residents of certain hilltop communities and later to expel upwards of 100,000 Jews from Yehuda and the Shomron, chas v’chalila that it would be written in future history that the religious turned the other cheek yet again, this time toward the Amalek within — the anti-Torah bums; Olmert, Peretz, Livni, Peres, Mofaz, Ezra, Dichter, also President Katzav who kept silent and yes, Bibi too. After all, Netanyahu also voted for the expulsion. B’ezrat Hashem they should go the way of Sharon, of Bassi, of Adams, Halutz and Karadi.
But it seems to this author that Hashem wants to see us put into practice and actuate our principles; to act beyond tefillah and learning in the Beis Medrash.
Seventeen months ago, the Am Yisrael was too busy fighting and hating each other and were too self-directed to care about the Klal and so 9,000 formerly productive, independent citizens are now in large part destitute, devoid of their property and possessions and dependent upon the chessed of many others, while Kassams continue raining down upon S’derot and Askelon threatening homes, lives and vital services. And the Arabs, the murdering Islamikazis have taken heart from the expulsion and from the Israeli military fiasco last summer in Lebanon and perceive our end as “the writing on the wall.”
We can act to manifest change. Just as it seems obvious that the Jews of Shushan put aside personal and familial issues for the sake of unity and Jewish survival, we too can collectively step up in unity with the game on the line. We are capable of deploying the Ukrainian model, in shifts, by roster and putting a 100,000 Jews in front of Knesset 24/7; not for how it might affect the mindset and actions of an Ehud Olmert or a Peres, Silvan Shalom, Mofaz, Gideon Ezra, etc. but for the rock-solid dedication and unity it would build amongst ourselves, like in the time of Mordechai and Esther and the Jews of the city of Shushan. I believe is the message this year behind our Parsha Tetzaveh.
May we be zocha in this coming year that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the 3 captive Chayalim and the other MIAs be liberated and returned to us and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.