Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tetzaveh - Guest Post - Where's Moshe?

By Kovi Fleischmann

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When looking through Parshat Tetzaveh, one will notice the astonishing fact that it is the only parsha since the time of Moshe's birth that Moshe’s name is not mentioned even once. Among the reasons suggested is that of the Baal Haturim who says that when Moshe was praying on behalf of the Jewish people after the Cheit Ha’egel he said “And now if You would but forgive their sin! – but if not, erase me now from your book that you have written” (Shemot 32:32). Although Hashem did forgive the Jews for their sin, the words of a Tzadik, at least in some fashion, will always come true. Thus, in this one parsha Moshe’s name is erased. Why, however, was this the Parsha chosen as the one in which Moshe’s name was to be omitted?

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The Vilna Gaon explains that since Moshe was to die on the 7th day of Adar, which almost always falls out during the week of Parshat Tetzaveh, Hashem left out his name here as an allusion to this fact. Why did the Chachomim who set up the parshiot wish to for the parsha in which Moshe’s name is omitted to coincide with the time that he died?

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Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, in his Oznayim LaTorah, explains that it was done to emphasize the fundamental principle in Judaism that we do not treat the leaders of our nation as central factors in our belief and service of Hashem. Our holidays do not revolve around the birth or death of our great leaders, as is often found in other religions. We do not idolize Moshe nor do we atone for our sins through him. Although we know that Moshe was the faithful appointee of Hashem and the greatest navi who ever lived, our emunah is only in Hashem and our service is to Him alone as our master and creator. The Torah leaves out Moshe’s name specifically in this parsha to remind us of this fact.

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Perhaps there is another reason why this, the parsha about the bigdei kehunah, is the one that Moshe is, seemingly, unconnected to. The kohanim, and more specifically the Kohein Gadol, are the spokesmen for the Jewish People. As we know, Aharon was the one who spoke on behalf of his brother Moshe throughout their time in Mitzrayim. The job of the kohein is to reveal the glory - the tif'eret - of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It says that the qualifications for the Kohein Gadol are that he must be wise, rich, and handsome. It seems quite strange that he must he be handsome; why is this the case? The answer is that he is the ambassador of the malchut of Hashem, and he must be like a magnet to all the people around him to cling to. Moshe Rabeinu was the opposite of the Kohein Gadol. Nowhere does it say that he was handsome, in fact it is implied from the Tiferet Yisrael (who quotes an unknown medrash), that Moshe had the appearance of an ugly man. Nowhere do we find chitzoniut - externals focussed upon in regard to Moshe, but we do an emphasis on this in regard to the kohanim and their clothes - the bigdei kehunah - in particular.

Moshe, who was the ultimate expression of revealing the shechinah - divine aura of Hashem constantly, had no need for these externals. When this idea is taken even further, one can find its connection to why the parsha chosen to be absent of Moshe’s name is the parshah read before Purim. In older editions of the Rambam’s introduction to his magnum opus the Mishneh Torah, Mordechai ias a balshan – a linguist, an expert in languages. Proof to this is the fact that he was able to understand the language of Bigtan and Teresh in their plot to kill King Achashverosh. A parallel medrash calls Mordichai by the name Petachya, one who can find hidden meaning in things.

The message of Purim, expressed through the amazing story of Megilat Esther, is about seeing Hashem where he seems the least apparent. It is about realizing that Hashem is the Master Puppeteer pulling all the strings behind the scenes and that He always, although we may not see it, has the solution set in place even before the problem arises. The essence of who Mordechai was, was the ability to reveal Hashem even when it seemed like Hashem was hiding his face from us. Moshe was on such an unbelievably high level that he was not relevant to this aspect of Mordechai and Purim. Moshe was a walking, talking revelation of Hashem, and even spoke to him face to face. He was the leader of the nation in the time in history that had many open miracles; nothing about his relationship with Hashem was hidden. Since Moshe was the epitome
of openness with Hashem, perhaps it is appropriate for Tetzaveh, the one before Purim, to be the only parsha from Moshe's birth till the end of the Torah, , in which Moshe’s name is hidden.

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