A Glaring Omission

Categories: Parsha, Tetzaveh

Art by Sefira Lightstone


You know how some things are famous for what they aren’t? Like an apology that isn’t really an apology – “I’m sorry for how that made you feel.”Or a speech that doesn’t mention by name the one thing that people were listening for? So this week’s Parsha -Tetzaveh – is one of those items. It continues the discussion of what was necessary to establish the Tabernacle but omits one crucial component: Moses. We are taught that this portion is the only one since Moses was born that he isn’t mentioned. In fact, the portion begins with the words “And you (referring to Moses) should command…” so it’s not that Moses is ignored, but that he is referred to in a roundabout way, or perhaps a more direct one – you – unlike other portions. But let’s look at this for a minute; why isn’t Moses mentioned? The reason, we are taught, is found in next week’s portion containing the saga of the Jewish people worshipping the Golden Calf. G-d is tremendously angry at them for their waywardness and tells Moses that it’s time to begin anew with a new nation, not these sinners he’s been stuck with until now. Moses responds by saying, “forgive the Jewish people and, if You don’t, you can remove me from Your book (the Torah).” Because Moses was such a righteous and special person, his words had a powerful effect; even though G-d ultimately forgave the Jewish people, He also honored what Moses asked for by omitting his from this one portion of that book. Certainly interesting and so much to unpack but let’s take one lesson. No, Moses is not mentioned by name. But that doesn’t in any way diminish from his deep connection to the Parsha, so much so that I’m writing about him now rather than finding something else to focus on. Because sometimes we need to scratch below the surface to find that deeper meaning, that deeper connection. Sure, we can pay lip service to things but if we don’t have that deeper connection, that loyalty, that bond, slogans are not enough. Moses, in standing up for the Jewish people, put his reputation on the line and perhaps, in some ways, his very memory. But he did so because he felt this intense love, concern and care for his fellow man. He was not going to sever ties because they made such a grave error; he was even willing to be erased from history for them! We are living in a world moving faster than ever with superficial goals tempting us to pursue them. So let us strive to create deeper and more meaningful bonds with each other. Moses teaches us that relating to others with sincere care, concern and respect brings out the best in us, the best in others, and, ultimately, the best in all of creation. Good Shabbos!

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