Where's Moshe? by Jesse Nowlin


After the Cheit HaEigel, Moshe pleads with Hashem to forgive Bnei Yisrael.  “VeAtah Im Tisa Chatatam, VeIm Ayin Mecheini Na MiSifrecha Asher Katavta,” “And now, please forgive their sin, and if not, erase me from the book You have written” (Shemot 32:31).  Moshe was a leader with such Mesirat Nefesh (dedication) that he jeopardized himself in order to save Bnei Yisrael.  As we learn from Yaakov Avinu's inadvertent curse of Rachel in cursing whoever took Lavan's idols, the words of a Tzaddik do not go ignored; somehow, Moshe’s words would come true.  The Ba’al HaTurim asserts (in his introductory comment to Parashat Tetzaveh) that Moshe’s name actually was taken “out” of the Torah by not being mentioned in this week's Parasha.  But why was it this week's Parasha that was chosen to lack Moshe’s name?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that even though Moshe's name is not explicitly mentioned in this Parasha, he is still mentioned in the first Pasuk, “VeAtah Tetzaveh,” “And you [Moshe], command” (27:20).  The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains further that the lack of Moshe's name and the substitution of a pronoun is not actually a punishment like many people think it is, but rather an honor.  When a newborn baby boy has not yet been named, he is defined by his character traits.  When Hashem refers to Moshe without his name, Moshe's positive traits are being especially stressed.  “VeAtah” is an honor because it points to Moshe's essence and the great Mesirat Nefesh he showed during the events surrounding the Cheit HaEigel.  Therefore, Hashem isn't really punishing Moshe by removing him from Parashat Tetzaveh, but rather honoring him by alluding to his great personal sacrifices for Bnei Yisrael.

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