Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 21   No. 20

This issue is sponsored by
Shabsi and Leah Rubin n"y
in honour of the Aufruf of their dear son Moshe n"y
on the occasion of his marriage to
Nechama Stewart n"y of Ramat Beit Shemesh
sheyizku l'vnos bayis ne'eman b'yisrael

Parshas Tetzaveh

Why Parshas Tetzaveh?

"And you shall command the B'nei Yisrael and they shall bring to you pure olive-oil, beaten, for illumination, to kindle the everlasting lamp" (27:20).

As is well-known, the Ba'al ha'Turim attributes the fact that Moshe's name is not mentioned in the entire Parshah of Tetzaveh to his request that G-d should erase his name from His Book, and, as Chazal have said, the curse of a Chacham, even if it is conditional, comes true at least in part. To explain why specifically this Parshah was selected, the commentaries point out that Parshas Tetzaveh always coincides with the week of the seventh of Adar, Moshe's Yohrtzeit.


On this explanation, the Oznayim poses two questions: 1. The Minhag to divide the Torah into the weeks of the year is a comparatively recent one. Indeed, in Yerushalayim, the Gemara tells us in Megilah (29), they used to complete the Torah only once every three years!

2. The Gemara (Ibid. 13) informs us that Haman rejoiced when his 'lot' fell in the month of Adar, since it was the month in which Moshe died. What he did not know, the Gemara goes on to explain, was that Moshe was also born in the same month, and, as Rashi comments, 'the birth is worthy of atoning for his death'. How can one possibly now present the very argument over which Haman erred as a valid reason for whatever it might be? Even more so, considering that when the Torah was written, Moshe had been born, but had not yet died?


The author therefore suggests another reason to explain the absence of Moshe's name from this Parshah.

Commenting on the Pasuk which refers to G-d's anger with Moshe for his ongoing refusal to take on the role of saviour of Yisrael, Chazal explain that wherever the Torah mentions anger, there must be some ramifications of that anger. And sure enough, they say, the Torah goes on to hint to Moshe that his brother Aharon would take over the role of Kohen Gadol, even though it too, was originally intended to go to Moshe. In other words, Moshe, on account of his refusal to accept the role of leader, forfeited the role of Kehunah Gedolah.

This blow did not manifest itself in any way, until Aharon and his sons were commanded to kindle the lamps of the Menorah in the Ohel Mo'ed (in the next Pasuk), and when Moshe was commanded to bring Aharon and his sons close and to appoint them as Kohanim (later in the Parshah). And since it is in the Parshah of Tetzaveh that Moshe actually experienced the punishment, it is befitting for the Torah to choose this Parshah to fulfil Moshe's curse in Tetzaveh, in the Parshah which saw the fulfilment of his earlier punishment.


The question now remains, says the Oznayim la'Torah, as to why the Chachamim who arranged for the Torah to be read each year, fixed, of all Parehiyos, Parshas Tetzaveh, which does not contain Moshe's name (for the reason that we mentioned above) to coincide with the day on which Moshe Rabeinu was born and on which he died. This question is all the more relevant when we consider that the Pasuk in Mal'achi (3:22) specifically refers to the Torah as "the Torah of Moshe My servant!"

And the author points out how other religions celebrate the birthdays and the day of death of their (so-called) saviours, turning them into the greatest and holiest day of the year, and their leaders into demi-gods, whom they worship and adore.

And that is precisely what the Chachamim set out to avoid. They made a point of stressing that, notwithstanding the role that our leaders play in shaping our destiny, we worship G-d and G-d only. We are duty-bound to listen to them and to obey them, but we do not deify them.

Hence Moshe Rabeinu may have played a major role in the Exodus from Egypt, yet his name is barely mentioned in the Hagodoh, He played a major role in the crossing of the Yam-Suf, yet we sing to G-d exclusively.

In fact, it is a typical reaction of our sages and leaders throughout the ages to downplay the often superhuman efforts that they make on behalf of K'lal Yisrael. Take for example, Yosef, who, for all that he did to save Egypt, constantly pointed out that it was G-d and not he, was responsible for the various stages of salvation. Likewise, Yehudah ha'Maccabi, one of the greatest generals of all times, wrote on his shield the words "Who is like you among the strong ones Hashem!'

Indeed, omitting Moshe's name from the Torah on the week of his birthday is a reflection of the unparalleled humility of the greatest and most humble man who ever lived.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Based on the Oznayim la'Torah)

The Stones of the Eifod

"Six of their names on the one stone, according to their birth (ke'soldosom)" 28:10.

According to Rashi this means that the names were engraved on the two stones of the Eifod according to the order of Ya'akov's sons' birth. The Oznayim la'Torah points out that this is one of two opinions in the Gemara in Sotah (See Or ha'Chayim, who cites various ways of explaining the respective opinions).

According to the other opinion there, "ke'soldosom" means using the names that their father gave them when they were born. Primarily, this refers to Binyamin, whose name is generally spelt without a 'Yud' between the 'Mem' and the final 'Nun'. However, since when he was born his father called him Binyamin with two 'Yudim', that is how his name was spelt on the stones of the Eifod.

From the care that the Torah takes in this instance, to refer to Binyamin by the name that his father called him at birth (for whatever reason), and not to detract from it even one 'Yud', says the author, we can learn, how careful one must be to call a Jew, not only by his Jewish name, but by his correct Jewish name, and not to change even one letter of the name that he was called at his B'ris.


The Urim ve'Tumim
& Prophecy

"And you shall put into the Choshen Mishpat the Urim ve'Tumim before Hashem always (tomid)" (28:30).

Despite the fact that the Urim ve'Tumim was on a lower level than prophecy, it possesses two advantages that prophecy did not:

1. That whereas prophesy can be rescinded (like we find by Ninveh, which, after the people did Teshuvah, was spared from destruction, in spite of the prophecy that it would be destroyed), a prediction of the Urim ve'Tumim cannot. That is why it is called 'Tumim', which has connotations of final/irreversible.

2. A Navi (other than Moshe) has access to prophesy, when G-d wants, not necessarily when he wants. On the other hand, whenever the Kohen Gadol made a request of the Urim ve'Tumim, he was assured of an answer - as hinted in the word "tomid" (Oznayim la'Torah).


Garments of Glory

"And you shall manufacture holy garments for Aharon your brother, for glory and for splendour" (28:2).

It is a Mitzvah, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, for the Bigdei Kehunah to be new, and smart.

What is crucial, he adds (quoting the Ramabam in Hilchos K'lei ha'Mikdash), is that that they may not be dirty, torn, too long or too short. Should the Kohen perform the Avodah with any of these shortcomings, the Avodah is Pasul.


The Wise-hearted Men

"And you shall make the holy garments for Aharon your brother speak to the wise-hearted men whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom" (28:2 & 3).

The Oznayim la'Torah points out that, in Parshas T'rumah, which speaks about the construction of the Mishkan, the Torah says many times "They" or "You" shall manufacture ", in connection with Moshe and Betzalel, respectively; yet on no occasion does it use the term "wise-hearted". Why, he asks, does it then use it here?

And he attributes it to the fact that as holy as the vessels of the Mishkan were, the Bigdei Kehunah were on a higher level of Kedushah. Consequently, they required a higher level of Machshavah (profound thought) than the former. We see, for example, that the four-letter Name of G-d which was engraved on the Tzitz, and the Name of G-d comprising seventy-two letters were written on a piece of parchment and placed in the folds of the Choshen Mishpat.

So the Torah refers to the additional depth of devotion and concentration with which the same people who constructed the Mishkan were blessed when making the Bigdei Kehunah, in order to infuse them with the extra sanctity.

* * *

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