Sefer Vayikra opens with the Psukim(1:1-2):’He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying; Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When a man among you makes an offering to Hashem..’.
Noting that the passuk does not state WHO ‘called to Moshe’, the Rashbam explains:’This is because we had read at the end of the preceding Parasha, Parashat Pikudei, that, as (40:34-35)’The glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan; Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting’, we understand that, now, in our Parasha, it was Hashem who called to Moshe, and spoke to him’.
The Ktav Sofer, brings a beautiful midrash, as to Hashem now calling to Moshe Rabbeinu: What, ask our Sages, is written earlier? ‘As Hashem had commanded Moshe’, after each item in the Mishkan. To what might this be likened, to a king who commanded that a palace be built for him. On every part of the building, the builder wrote the name of the king.
When the construction was completed, the king entered the palace, and saw that the builder had written the king’s name on every item in the palace. Said the king: the builder has given me such kavod, call him to come.
This, says the Rav, was the case with the Mishkan that Moshe Rabbeinu built for Hashen; on every part of the structure, he ‘wrote’: ‘as Hashem commanded Moshe’.
Said Hashem: Moshe has given Me all this kavod, let him come inside, before Me’.
Comments the Rav: ‘The point of this parable is, that when a builder builds a luxurious edifice for a king, he is given much honor, by all who see ‘his’ magnificent work; however, when the builder’s only concern is for the honor of the king, and not for his own honor, he only writes the name of the king, in the building: that it was built by the king’s command, and that the king was the one who designed the building, recognizing that this was the most important factor.
‘So too, Moshe Rabeinu did not seek to be honored in any way, for the building of the wondrous Mishkan, and noted only that it was built as Hashem had commanded.
‘Therefore, on its completion, it was only right, that he should be called, to enter it.’
The Ramban comments:’As Hashem had told Moshe that He would speak to him from between the two cherubim in the Tent of Meeting, and since he knew that the shechina now resided there, Moshe נתירא: was fearful of entering there until Hashem called him to enter.
‘Our Sages say that a ‘call’ preceded all of Hashem’s words and commandments to Moshe, as if Hashem said to him: ‘Moshe Moshe, and Moshe said הנני: I am here’, as a sign of fondness and to make haste, to Moshe.
‘This was specifically mentioned here, say our Sages, because this was the beginning of Hashem speaking to Moshe from the Tent of Meeting, and it comes to teach as to all subsequent such occasions in the Torah.’
The Abarbanel expounds that the words ‘and say to them’, were in honor of Bnei Israel; because they toiled to make the Mishkan, they eagerly anticipated that from the Mishkan, words if Torah would be addressed to them. As Hashem wished to honor them, the first words that came from the Mishkan, were to be to them- to give them the Mitzvot of the korbanot: the animal offerings; more so, as they were brought from their money.
‘For this reason, these mitzvot were not given first to the Kohanim, but to Bnei Israel; only subsequently, in the following Parasha, Parashat Tzav, Hashem gave the Kohanim the mitzvot of the service of the korbanot.’
Our Sages derive a different understanding of the word ‘saying’. As the next passuk opens with the words ‘Speak to the Children of Israel’, the word ‘saying’ is מיותר: ‘superfluous’.
Therefore, say our Sages, as Rashi brings, it alludes to Hashem commanding Moshe Rabbeinu to say something additional to Bnei Israel, at this point.
Whilst our Sages proffer two different views as to what these additional things are, let us focus on the first one:’Say to them דברי כיבושין: Captivating words: ‘For your sake, Hashem communicates with me’.
The Chatam Sofer expounds that the words were meant as appeasement to Bnei Israel.
Rav David Pardo, in his commentary Maskil leDavid, comments that, the view that the additional words that Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded to say at this point to Bnei Israel, were words of appeasement, can be learned from the order of the words in the opening passuk:’Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying’- the insertion of the words ‘from the Tent of Meeting’, before the word ‘saying’, suggests that what was said from the Tent of Meeting, was the reason for ‘saying’, for the need for words of appeasement.
Explains the Rav:’Since the words from the Tent of Meeting were only to be heard by Moshe, and not the rest of the people, this was likely to cause resentment.
‘To preclude this, Moshe was commanded to speak these words of appeasement, to the people, telling that Hashem spoke to him, only ‘for your sake’: in your merit.’
Rav Aryeh Leib Heiman also explains the need that Hashem saw for words of appeasement, specifically at this time:True, Moshe Rabbeinu had led the people out of Egypt, and had received the Torah, and had commanded the building of the Mishkan; but in all these matters, the people acknowledged that he was ‘greater’ than them.
But now, at the moment that the Shechina has began to reside in the Mishkan, and the word of Hashem was, for the first time, to be heard from between the Cherubim, they were to be addressed, not to the people, but only to Moshe’s ears. This could cause there to arise in the hearts of the people a very disconcerting thought.
‘Wasn’t the Mishkan built from their ‘blood and sweat’, the moneys and valuables which they received when they left Egypt, as ‘wages’ for their two hundred and ten years of unendurable suffering and toil, which they had contributed out of their נדיבות לב: generosity of heart?
Further, Moshe Rabbeinu had been the only one who had made no contribution towards the Mishkan, as even its erection, whilst appearing to be his work, was, as our Sages teach, the work of Hashem!
‘To pre-empt such thoughts surfacing, Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to ‘conquer their hearts’, before Hashem speaks to him from the Tent of Assembly, by telling them that ‘only because of them’: In their merit, Hashem will speak to me, from between the two cherubim.
‘Notwithstanding any personal qualities that I may have, Hashem reveals Himself to me, because of you! I am but the representative of each one of you.
‘This is proven later, as in all the thirty-eight years after the sin of the meraglim, when Bnei Israel were in disfavour in the eyes of Hashem, Hashem did not reveal Himself to Moshe Rabbeinu, in the form of ‘speech’- in the form of ‘וידבר ה׳ אל משה’: ‘And Hashem spoke to Moshe’’.
Rav Heiman sweetens our topic, by adding: ‘We find that, in other places, Rashi interprets דברי כיבושין: as literally: ‘words that conquer the heart’.
‘In this sense, the additional words that Moshe was commanded to speak, were words to ‘conquer’ the heart: to do Teshuva.
‘Indeed, why does Hashem only speak to Moshe, and not directly to the people? Why is Moshe the only one called to enter the Tent of Meeting at this momentous time, and the only one able to hear Hashem speak?
‘Because he is the one furthest removed from the sin of the golden calf! Because, as the prophet says: (Isaiah 59:2)’Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your G-d, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear’.
‘The people, at this point, must understand that the only measure for closeness to Hashem, is distancing from sin; and, as all the people were ‘closer’ than Moshe to the sin of the golden calf, they are therefore precluded from entering the Tent of Meeting, to hear the words of Hashem.
‘This is also why Moshe did not participate in the construction of the Mishkan- it came to signify the atonement for the sin of the golden calf.
As Moshe had no part in that sin, there was no reason for him to engage in its atonement.