Learning Torah overlooking Shechem
Learning Torah overlooking ShechemSipzner /

Parashat Tetzave opens in a manner different from all the other Parshiot, as we read (27:20): ‘ואתה : And you shall command the Children of Israel that they should take for you pure, pressed olive oil for illumination, to light the lamp continuously.’

The parshanim note that here, unlike the other instances in the Torah, it does not say:’And G-d spoke to Moshe, saying..’ what he, Moshe, was to say to the people; instead, as we have brought, it says simply: ‘And you’, Moshe, ‘shall command the people’, as to what they are then commanded to do.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh comments:’We need to explore why the Torah had to write the words ‘and you’, seeing G-d had been speaking to Moshe. (Further) Why did G-d employ an imperative: תצוה, altogether.

‘Perhaps the reason is the very fact that lighting a lamp in the Sanctuary - which itself is supposed to be the source of our illumination - seemed quite inappropriate. The Torah had to tell Moshe, that despite such considerations, Aaron was to light the lamp.

‘This commandment was not given directly to Israel by G-d, for the above-mentioned reason, but Moshe himself ( in his own name ) was instructed to command Israel as to this, so that they should honor the lamp by providing oil to light its lamps.

‘In saying to Moshe: ואתה: ‘and you’, G-d was hinting that the directive was to appear as if it had emanated from Moshe, rather than from G-d.

‘By telling Moshe to ‘command’, rather than merely ‘speak’ to them, as was the norm, served to make the matter more urgent in their eyes, and to make the directive appear as having emanated from Moshe, rather than G-d Himself.

‘Further, as in all matters concerning construction of the Mishkan, G-d always used direct speech, telling Moshe: ‘you shall do, etc..’, and had thereby involved Moshe personally in every aspect of the construction, the switch here to indirect speech:’and they shall take’, may inficate that G-d was telling Moshe that the only way in which he was superior to the rest of the peoplr, was that it was he who would command the people to do their part.

‘This is why G-d said: ואתה :‘and you’, the connecting va’v preceding the word ‘you’, was a reminder that there were others beside Moshe involved in performance of the directive.’

May I, with all due humility, suggest that the concluding words of the Sage, that Moshe Rabbeinu needed, as it were, a reminder that others were also involved in the construction, are difficult to understand if read literally, bearing in mind that Moshe Rabbeinu was the humblest man on earth, as Hashem testified.

The Alshich Hakadosh also expounds that the word ‘and’ comes to link our psukim with the previous Parasha, though in a different way than proffered by the Ohr Hachaim.

He comments, that on seeing all that is described in the previous Parasha :’There is no doubt that, after Moshe saw all the work on the Mishkan, it being awesome to make a Sanctuary for the Shechina to reside in our midst, the people having been ordered to bring the materials for its construction, and Bezalel and Oliahav and every wise-hearted man commanded to make the implements of the Sanctuary, and Aaron and his sons to minister before Hashen, Moshe’s heart had to be in a ferment, saying:’what is this that Hashem has done, that I had no part in this great matter?; more so, as I was intended to be the Kohen, and Aaron the Levi, yet our roles were reversed in the mission of the exodus’.

‘To speak to his heart and to comfort him, Hashem came and said:ואתה: ‘and you’, saying the words as in an elevated tone, you, Moshe, don’t be concerned, because your part is greater than all of theirs, because all that they do was only by your word, as you will command Bnei Israel as to each and every mitzvah - and also, in that ‘they shall take for you’ the oil to kindle the ner tamid, to illuminate their way to the world-to-come.

‘And, as to any envy you may have that Aaron and his sons are the Kohanim, and not you, their completeness also derives from you, because (28:1):’’And you, bring’ them ‘near to yourself’, and only by being drawn near to you, and by the priestly garments your handiwork, will they be sanctified to minister to Me, as we read (28:3): ‘And you shall speak to all the wise-hearted people.. and they shall make the vestments of Aaron, to sanctify him to minister to Me’.

‘Returning to our opening pasuk, that said that, apart from by your hand is the whole completeness of Israel, that which you illuminate for them is greater than their zechut for that which they contributed to the Sanctuary, because you bring them all life to the world-to-come, which is far greater than their deeds to cause the shechina to dwell in the lower world, because ‘and you shall command etc..’.’

Rav Gedalia Schorr proffers another interpretation of the opening words of our Parasha:’’And you shall command..’, first bringing the insight of the Ba’al HaTurim - the source of which is the Zohar Hakadosh - that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not mentioned in our Parasha, because he said, after the sin of the golden calf, when he sought forgiveness for the people:’(32:32):’delete me from the book that You have written’, and this was done in our Parasha.

‘This, however, is difficult to understand as a cause for punishment, as, in these words Moshe Rabbeinu offered his soul, as it were, for his people , seeking forgiveness for them, to the extent of saying:’If you bear their transgression, and if not delete me..’ - and why should he be punished for this?

‘In truth, as to the opening words of our Parasha:’And you shall command’, we find that our Sages note that the word ואתה: ‘And you’ starts with וי'ו חיבור: a connecting va’v, to be understood as :‘I and you’, meaning that, as it were, Hashem says: ‘I and you together’.

‘So, while a man’s name is his root and his essence - and here the command is said to him without his name being mentioned - it is because he totally nullified himself to His creator, so that there is not even the barrier of his name, to separate them.

‘Because of his mesirut nefesh - the complete nullification of his very being - by his saying:’If not delete me from Your book’, he merited to be completely connected to the Source - without any intervening barrier, and it therefore when it says:’And you shall command’: it means:I and you, in the most elevated form of דביקות: cleaving.’

Rav Yaakov Ettlinger also expounds our pasuk as a reward to Moshe Rabbeinu, for his mesirut nefesh for his people, in his plea to Hashem for forgiveness for them, after the sin of the golden calf, commenting:’Whilst our Sages say that a curse, even if conditional, has an effect, since only due to Moshe’s righteousness was it uttered, and out of his love for his people, Hashem sought to reward him, and to show him His love for him. He therefore began our pasuk with ואתה: ‘and you..’, to show that he, Moshe, was the essence of Israel and in him, all were contained.

‘This is what the Torah here says:’And you shall command..’: that when you illuminate the Torah on behalf of all the people, and therefore this command that alludes to the exalted level you have attained - ‘and you shall command’, that ‘they should take for you’ - that all that they merit in Torah and mitzvot, is reckoned to you.’

The Siftei Kohen advances a different reason as to why, the fulfillment of Moshe Rabbeinu’s ‘self-curse’, is in this Parasha, and his name is not mentioned.

‘Expounds the Rav:’Since Moshe was intended to be the Kohen, but lost that role to Aaron, because he refused to fulfil Hashem’s shlichut, the Torah was concerned not to hurt the feelings of Moshe in the Parasha detailing the service of Aaron and his sons, as Kohanim.

‘To console Moshe on his loss of Kehuna, the Torah states that Moshe ‘Shall bring near to’ himself, ‘Aaron..and his sons..to minister to Me..And you shall speak to all the wise-hearted people.. and they shall make the vestments of Aaron to sanctify him to minister to Me’- all this by the hand of Moshe, to appease him.’

Rav Aryeh Leib Heiman suuggests another reason, as to why Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not found in or Parasha:’Parashat Tetzave, not only is it not ‘the Parasha of Moshe’ - but it is very clearly the Parasha ‘of’ Aaron. This is emphasized by Aaron’s zname not being mentioned in the previous Parasha: Parashat Terumah, despite it being concerned with matters affecting him and his role.

‘After Aaron’s name not being mentioned in the previous Parasha, our Parasha: Parashat Tetzave, is wholly concerned with him - his vestments, and his induction.

‘Therefore, Moshe’s name is not mentioned in our Parasha, as it is wholly set aside for Aaron.

‘Here we ask: why should the name of each of them not be mentioned in the Parasha ‘of the other’? The answer: because Moshe was crowned with the crowns of Torah and of Kingship, and Aaron was crowned with the crown of Kehuna, and, our Sages teach:’One crown does nor infringe on the crown of another’. This is emphasized by the absence of the name of each from the Parasha of the other.

‘This separation, between Kehuna and Kingship, has its roots in Aaron’s submissiveness to the demand of the people, that a calf be made, he acting ‘out of fear of the people’, the, Kohanim being known as peace-makers, rather than standing resolute, as is the hallmark of Kings.

‘Aaron there showed clearly that he was not ‘suited’ to Kingship - whilst, at the same time, Moshe showed that he WAS suited for Kingship, but not for the Kehuna, which Hashem had already concluded at the outset of the mission to Egypt.’

A concluding gem from the Vilna Gaon:’Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not mentioned in Parashat Tetzave, because, in the majority of years, the Parasha is read in the week in which the seventh of Adar falls. Hashem, before whom all is revealed, knew in advance that Moshe Rabbeinu would depart this life on that date, and therefore deleted his name from this Parasha, as an allusion to this.

‘In addition, there are 101 psukim in our Parasha, the reason being that the ‘hidden’ parts of the name Moshe, is also 101: they being, in Ivrit: M(em:מ: 40), S(hin:ין : 60), H (eh: א :1) , 40+60+1= one hundred and one: the number of psukim in our Parasha.

‘This is to teach, that though the חיצוניות: the externality of Moshe - his name - is ‘absent’ from our Parasha, his פנימיותו ורוחניותו: his spirit and presence, the Holy Torah that he taught us, still lives in our midst, for eternity.’

לרפואת כל החיילים הפצועים ו גם של נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.