This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Tetzaveh (5761)
This section is unique because it does not mention Moshe’s name even once. (But really it describes Moshe better than any Parsha, as we will see with HaShem's help.)
One reason for this omission is that after the Jewish people sinned with the Aigel (Golden Calf) and G-d wanted to destroy them, Moshe told G-d that he’d rather have his own name omitted from the entire Torah than see the Jews punished (Shmot 32:32).
The result was that G-d forgave the Jewish people but He also omitted Moshe’s name … from this Parsha alone (Baal HaTurim 27:20)
But a few things don’t seem to make sense here.
Firstly, the sin of the Aigel is in NEXT WEEK’S section; the whole thing happened AFTER Moshe’s name was erased! (See Ramban 35:1)
Secondly, how did this argument of Moshe’s convince G-d to spare the Jewish people from such an unforgivable sin as idolatry with malice aforethought?
After all, they heard DIRECTLY from G-d that it’s forbidden and yet they did it anyway!
And finally, if Moshe’s argument saved all the Jewish people why was his name erased?
I would like to answer with a story.
The Baal Shem Tov (Besh’t) was once sitting with his pupils when suddenly he went ‘blank’. His eyes stared at a corner of the ceiling, but he was obviously seeing something else.
The pupils were used to this; their master lived in a world unobstructed by creation; past and future, physical and spiritual, were like one to him.
Suddenly the ‘Besh’t’ stood up and began to dance with ecstatic joy, arms outstretched, spinning, singing joyously. In seconds, all his pupils were dancing with him until they couldn’t dance any more.
The Baal Shem sat down, caught his breath and explained the reason for his sudden outburst.
“Yesterday a woman came in to see me and she was weeping; she wanted children. I saw in heaven that it was decreed that she was to be barren. But I decided that I would pray for her anyway. Prayer can transform even the harshest decrees especially prayer with self-sacrifice.
I said, ‘G-d, You can do what you want with me, but I demand that You give this woman children!’ And it worked! The decree was annulled and it was announced in heaven that she would have offspring.
But that was yesterday. Just now I received a summons to appear before the Heavenly court and after a short trial they decided that I must pay dearly for my importunity; I will lose my place in heaven and will receive no spiritual rewards after I pass away!
And that is why I am so happy,” concluded the Besh’t. Now I can serve G-d without any interference from ulterior motives!!”
This explains why Moshe was willing to be wiped out of the Torah.
The Torah is the true Inner Will and Wisdom of G- d, the reason and foundation of all Creation, the essence of all being. No one was ever more united with and devoted to it than Moshe. His entire being was Torah. He went for 120 days without eating or drinking in order to receive it directly from G-d, and risked his life for it’s every detail.
But his connection with the Jews was even deeper, because the Jews are higher than the Torah.
And Moshe didn’t want the Torah to interfere with that connection.
Sound strange? Well that is why he broke the Ten Commandments in next week’s Parsha, (32:19) and G-d even praised him for it (Devorim 34:12).
Now we can understand why Moshe’s name is missing from the Torah BEFORE the sin of the Aigel; because here is where he got his power to save the Jewish people. Here his real essence is revealed.
Most sections begin with a narrative in the third person, “And G-d spoke to Moshe etc.”
But this section begins with G-d speaking DIRECTLY to Moshe
“YOU command B’nei Yisroel”
Now, the word for Command also means ‘Connect’ in Hebrew. So the Torah is telling us here that Moshe’s essence - his “YOU”, was connected only to B’nei Yisroel, the Jewish people. That is why he was willing to risk everything in next week’s Parsha to save them.
This also explains why G-d listened to him.
Moshe ‘reminded’ G-d (like we do on Rosh HaShanna) that the Jews, although they transgress (G-d forbid) the entire Torah, they are still ‘connected’ to Him and are His Chosen people.
This is also the special relevance of this week’s section to Purim.
Yet another reason that Moshe’s name is missing here is because this Portion always falls near the date of his death (7th of Adar).
The Talmud (Megilla 13b) tells us that Haman was sure of victory in this month for this same reason; it was the month of Moshe’s death.
But the month was nevertheless transformed into the joyous holiday of Purim… because Haman didn’t know three things:
Firstly, that Moshe was also born on that day. Secondly, that the righteous after their deaths are more alive and active in the world than ever before. And finally, but most important, that (every generation has to have a leader like ‘Moshe’ and) Mordechi was the Moshe of his generation.
Mordechi, like all true Jewish leaders ‘connected’ the Jews with G-d: The Jewish people in the day of Haman could have saved themselves by simply saying they weren’t Jewish, but Mordechi inspired them all to refuse. Just like Moshe was willing to be erased, so to they, over 900 years later, were prepared to be killed so as not to deny their true Jewish essence. And it resulted in great happiness just like the Besh’t story.
So it will be with us, G-d willing, this Purim!! May we all have “light, Joy, happiness, and glory” with
Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.