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One would expect that from the time that the Torah teaches us about the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu, his name would be mentioned in every parashah of the Torah. This is indeed the fact, with one exception: Parashas Tetzaveh. In this week's parashah, Moshe's name is not mentioned even once.

An interesting explanation is given by the Ba'al HaTurim. When the Jews sinned by making for themselves a molten calf and prostrating themselves to it and sacrificing to it, Hashem, in His fury, threatened to totally annihilate them. Moshe immediately rushed to their defense but found that it was a difficult case to plead. Hashem made Moshe a very tempting offer: He would destroy these people and replace them with Moshe's descendants. Moshe would become the patriarch of the new, Jewish People.

But Moshe's love for his flock was unconditional and he surely rejected all personal gain at their expense. With no hesitation, he refused Hashem's suggestion and stated unequivocally that his existence hinged on theirs and he would not go on, independently, without them. Moshe said, "And now, if You would but forgive their sin! -- but if not, erase me now from Your book that You have written" (Shemos 32:32).

There is a basic rule in Judaism that whatever is uttered by a righteous man comes to pass; even if he only said it conditionally and the conditions were not fulfilled. Here too, explains the Ba'al HaTurim; since Moshe declared that he be erased from the Torah if the Jews are destroyed, consequently, even though Hashem did not destroy them, Moshe's name was obliterated from this week's parashah.

This is the way of all true leaders of Israel. They always put the people's needs before their own.

HaRav Eliezer Shach zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, in Bnei Brak, was exceptionally outstanding in this way. No matter how busy he was, taking care of the needs of the entire Nation which relied on him, and no matter what his personal condition was, he always went out of his way to help the individual man or woman, boy or girl, who needed his advice, help or blessing. Countless stories are told to attest to this, and, at a future occasion, I hope to relate my personal experiences with him. Today, though, I wish to repeat a beautiful short story which is recorded by his grandchildren in the books they have written about him.

In Bnei Brak there is a Girls Seminary named Ohr HaChaim. The staff is exceptionally dedicated to their students and accepts girls who come from broken homes, orphans and ba'alos teshuvah (newly religious). It stands to reason that many of these girls have personal problems and need advice, guidance and encouragement, especially when they are preparing for marriage. Rav Shach's door was always open to them and he would spend quite a lot of time with them; listening to them patiently, and helping them as best he could.

In his long lifetime (he passed away in 2001 at the ripe age of 106), Rav Shach had many periods during which he was considerably ill and weak. During one of those times, the staff of Ohr HaChaim hung up a sign advising their students to refrain from visiting the frail sage whose health was waning. After a while, the Rosh Yeshiva realized that no girls from Ohr HaChaim had visited him for a while. Since it seemed odd, he asked someone close to him to investigate the matter. That fellow soon reported to Rav Shach about the sign that had been posted. The Rosh Yeshiva was very disturbed and asked him to tell the staff to remove the sign immediately. As long as he had the strength, he said, to accept those girls who needed him, he would do so.

Once, the Rosh Yeshiva returned home, after a medical procedure, extremely weak and uncomfortable. His attendant asked if he would like to go to bed, but Rav Shach replied that he wants to sit at his table. The attendant then asked if he wanted a sefer (book) to study. The Rav replied that in his present condition, he could not learn. "If so," asked his student, "why won't the Rosh Yeshiva lie down for a while?"

Rav Shach replied, "A girl from Ohr HaChaim may suddenly come to discuss a problem with me. Although I do not have the strength to answer her right now, just the fact that I will let her pour out her heart to me will make her feel much better. Therefore, I must remain here and cannot go to bed until later on when people don't come anymore."

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel