Modern Avot by Yakir Forman


When describing Moshe’s assembly of the Mishkan, the Torah repeatedly uses the phrase, “KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Et Moshe,” “As Hashem commanded Moshe” (for example, Shemot 40:19). The Ba’al HaTurim points out that the purpose of the repetition is to mention Moshe’s name as a reminder that Bnei Yisrael were absolved of Cheit HaEigel. Since Moshe requested Hashem erase his name from the Torah if Hashem did not forgive Bnei Yisrael, every mention of Moshe’s name reminds us that Hashem listened to Moshe and forgave the nation. Additionally, the Ba’al HaTurim comments that the eighteen Berachot of Shemoneh Esreih correspond to the eighteen times “KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Et Moshe” or a similar phrase is repeated in this section of Parashat Pekudei.

What is the connection between the reminder of Hashem’s forgiveness and the eighteen Berachot of Shemoneh Esreih?

Rav Matis Blum, in his Sefer Torah LaDaat, answers that the Tefillot themselves were established to correspond to the three Avot (see Berachot 26b). However, after Cheit HaEigel, Hashem’s original intention was to destroy the nation and begin a new nation with Moshe as the sole forefather. Moshe, in his defense of Bnei Yisrael, protected the dignity of the Avot. He told Hashem, “Zechor LeAvraham LeYitzchak ULeYisrael,” “Remember for the sake of Avraham, for the sake of Yitzchak, and for the sake of Yisrael (Yaakov)” (32:13). As Rashi (ibid.) explains, Moshe said, “If a chair with three legs cannot stand before You at the time of Your anger, how much more so a chair with one leg!” Moshe insures that the chair, Bnei Yisrael, remains supported by the original three legs. The survival of the Avot’s status as Avot allowed their three Tefillot to survive as well. Since Moshe insured their survival through Hashem’s forgiveness of Bnei Yisrael, he was granted a place in the Tefillot by having the number of Berachot correspond to him. This explains how Moshe’s arguments after Cheit HaEigel are connected to his place in Shemoneh Esreih.

An important lesson emerges from our treatment of Moshe. As Hakarat HaTov for his protection of the dignity of the Avot, Moshe is given an important part of Tefillah, making him almost an Av himself. In truth, however, it is not only Moshe who deserves this Hakarat HaTov. Each observant Jew’s parents and teachers act as modern Avot by continuing the messages of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, just as Moshe did. Just as we show Hakarat HaTov to Moshe three times every day, we should constantly remember and thank everyone who helps support the three great legs of our chair.

Timeless Commands by Dovid Gottesman

Living the Torah by Rabbi Joel Grossman