There is something entirely unique to Parshas Tetzave that we do not find by any other Parsha from the beginning of Sefer Shemot until the end of the Book of Numbers, (Bamidbor) – Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not mentioned, not even once.
What kind of message can this possibly have for us, looking into this week’s Parsha for direction and inspiration, especially as we approach Purim?
The Zohar (Parshas Pinchos) describes an interesting conversation between Moshe Rabbeinu and Hakadosh Boruch Hu following the sin with the golden calf, where Hashem threatens total destruction of the Jewish people for abandoning Him so, just a mere 40 days after Matan Torah. Moshe argues and brings different proofs, reasons, and methods for why Hashem should not do so, finally stating “Ve’im Ain, Mecheini Na Misifricha (and if not, blot me out from your book)– in other words, where the Jews go I go, if they are to be destroyed, I will be destroyed with them. Now, the Zohar explains that even though the Jewish people were eventually spared, still, Hashem was “forced” to fulfil Moshe’s threat somewhat and therefore took his name out of one entire Parsha.
Why this Parsha was chosen is associated with another occurrence in the life of Moshe – 7 Adar, his birthday and his passing. Parshat Tetzave always falls out near the date of Moshe Rabbeinu’s passing and is therefore fitting that this is the week when his name is omitted, simultaneously fulfilling his own threat to an extent.
It was this episode and logic that came back to life in the days of Purim with Haman Harasha. The Gemoro (Megilla 13b) tells us that Haman was very calculated in his effort to destroy the Jewish people and worked to find the most opportune time, when the Jews were most vulnerable. Looking at the calendar, Haman found 7th Adar. Haman thought it was a fitting day since it was the day that Moshe Rabbeinu died. Haman calculated that it must be a terrible time for the Jews and the perfect time to wreak havoc and war upon them.
What the Gemoro continues to say, will flip the entire episode as we know it until now, on its head.
The Gemoro continues that Haman did not realize that 7th Adar is also Moshe’s birthday – Venahapoch Hu. The point the Talmud is making is that 7th Adar is not a sad day for the Jews at all, it is a day of celebration, a celebration of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life.
But if this is the case, why was Moshe’s name taken out of the Parsha that is meant to be celebrating his life?
Looking deeper into the Parsha we see that Moshe Rabbeinu is written all over it, just not using his name Moshe. From the very first word – “V’Ata” – ‘and you’. Hashem is speaking directly to Moshe telling him “You shall command”. This is referencing a deeper aspect of Moshe that goes deeper than his name, it is an interaction with the essence of Moshe Rabbeinu, a part of him that goes nameless, because it cannot be defined by specific letters and a specific name. It is this part of Moshe that we celebrate and interact with in ParshasTeztave.
This was not a punishment for Moshe’s struggle with Hashem, it is a direct effect of who Moshe is all about. The act of Mesiras Nefesh, total self sacrifice, on the part of Moshe, on behalf of the Jews, comes from a place where all Jews are one-and-the same and equally connected to Hashem. Moshe didn’t see a Moshe, a Yaakov, a Reuven – a better Jew or a worse Jew, all Moshe sees is a Jew, a soul, and every Jew no matter who – even in the moments right after the sin of the golden calf, are entirely united with Hashem.
Rabbi Menachem M Junik
Beis Gavriel Lubavitch