Just a couple of words…

“And you shall command the Children of Israel…” this is how this week’s reading begins, rather than in the usual “and G-d spoke to Moses saying”…
This is the only portion throughout the Torah since Moses’s birth where his name is not mentioned even once, and as we can imagine, 3000 years of careful text exploration, didn’t miss this seemingly minor detail.
Accordingly, Moses’s name is not mentioned this week because of happened during the sin of Golden Calf (coming up next week).  G-d told Moses that he’s had it with this People, and that He and Moses should start from scratch with another nation which they can run as they wish. Moses begs and asks G-d to rethink this idea. ‘After all, says Moses (in a much more Biblical language), who is going to want to be Your People if every time they mess-up, You go crazy and annihilate them all? No great PR, dear G-d! I prefer that if you have to punish someone, or give up on someone, why, you might as well erase me from Your book, just don’t harm them’. Thus, because he said, “erase me from Your book” (Exodus 32:32), there is one Torah portion where he is not mentioned. This portion usually falls in the beginning of Adar, and even though, according to tradition, we are extra joyous when the month of Adar begins, we also recall a sad day, for during this month we commemorate Moses’ birthday and the day he died (7th of Adar, coming up this Friday).
As usual, some see the fact that Moses is missing from one portion as a “punishment” or as a “lesson”: Moses too should be careful with his words, and not say serious things “stam” (for nothing). But there are those who see it as a compliment: Moses asked G-d “please erase me”, and G-d, like a generous King who loves his minister dearly – listened to his request, and metaphorically, gives him His pen and lets him “scribble” as he wishes. And the greater lesson? That the same words can produce opposing commentary, and still, call it Torah and keep it for thousands of years.
And yet, another commentary: Last week, we read Truma, the section about collecting donations and gifts, and Moses’s name is mentioned numerous times. But this week, we talk about distribution of the funds, and when it comes to distributions, there might be suspicious and accusations so it’s better for leaders to avoid this. Moses, too, was cautious and stayed away…
“And you shall command”… Last week we saw how each person brought something to the building of the Mishkan, the mobile Temple. People brought gold, silver, crimson cloth, acacia wood, and maybe Moses was saddened for not bringing anything. But we’re taught (in Pirkei Avot 4:3) that “there is no person who doesn’t have a time and no thing that doesn’t have a place” (where he/it can shine and contribute). Therefore, G-d says to Moses, ‘just because you don’t bring “stuff” like everybody, doesn’t mean you don’t have a special gift to give. Your gift is your teaching. “You shall command”. And the proof that this is a better gift? One day, the Mishkan will be gone but the Torah that you Moses have taught, remains forever’.
The name of this parasha, “Tetzave” is indeed related to command and thus, mitzvah; but it is also related to tzavta, Aramaic word for “togetherness”, and tzevet, modern Hebrew word for “team”. Maybe to teach us that there is a connection between the mitzvoth and our togetherness?
Either way, these were just 2 words from this week’s portion so much is left (hint in pictures below). Join us this Shabbat at our home for Chamin & Chavruta to continue our learning.
Shabbat Shalom! wardrobe-drawing

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3 Responses to Just a couple of words…

  1. neskama says:

    That there are so many parshot dedicated to building the Mishkan and only one in Hashem’s Creating all leaves some good thinking to think about. One that immediately jumps out is that we are not on the same level of creation as Hashem and not even near and that we can create but only from some thing that has come before. More later.

    • In Hebrew there are actually 2 different verbs for “create”:
      bara – for G-d’s creation, and yatzar – for people.
      the first – is creating something out of nothing, so while both verbs can be used for G-d, only yatzar is for us 🙂

      • neskama says:

        and actually in a previous century, painters did not sign their works for this very reason. Didn’t last a long time, but at one point – artists were conscious of what the word “by” meant. .

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