Faithful Leadership

(Torah Portion Tetzaveh) Faithful Leadership

From the point that the Torah relates the birth of Moshe until the end of the Torah when it relates his passing, Moshe’s name is mentioned in every portion except for this week’s Parsha of Tetzaveh.

Obviously there is a reason for this.

The great commentator, Baal Haturim explains that after the sin of the golden calf, G-d wanted to annihilate the Jewish people. Moshe rose to their defense and said to G-d, “If you do not spare the nation, erase my name from the Torah that You wrote!” Moshe’s commitment and compassion for the nation was so great that he was willing to forfeit his entire destiny for their behalf.

G-d listened to Moshe’s passionate plea, and spared the nation. However, since G-d scrutinizes the words of the great ones, and Moshe verbally stated that his name be erased, G-d fulfilled Moshe’s statement by erasing his name from one portion of the Torah.

A question is raised; why specifically this portion?

One reason offered is that this portion speaks of Aaron’s service in the Temple and the Priestly vestments that he and his descendants wore. Since Moshe did not merit this honor, the Torah chose this portion to withdraw his name.

Incidentally, although the portion makes no mention of Moshe’s name, Moshe is always remembered during this week, since his Yahrtzait (the 7th of Adar – Friday) always falls in the week that we read Tetzaveh!

As we mentioned, our great leader Moshe, showed total devotion to the Jewish people and went to their defense even at his own expense.

Moshe also displayed total commitment to the truth of the Torah. On a number of occasions when Moshe did not know the law, he did not hesitate to admit that he did not know and communicated with G-d seeking guidance.

The Torah relates an incident where Moshe thought something was done improperly, and as soon as the issue was clarified, Moshe admitted his mistake. Moshe’s mission in life was to serve the Almighty truthfully, and to teach, lead and be an advocate for the Jewish nation.

G-d endows each generation with the gift of great teachers, leaders and luminaries. Their students and published works are their living memorials, which are eternally appreciated.

One of our greatest sages is Rabbi Shlomo ben R’ Yitzchaki – affectionately known as Rashi. Rashi commented on the entirety of Torah. His comments on Torah, prophets and the Talmud have been studied both by youngsters and the greatest accomplished sages for over 900 years.

In this week’s Parsha, when Rashi comments on the Aifod – an ornate apron – one of the High Priests vestment, he struggles with how the Aifod looked and then explains how he perceived the Aifod to look prefacing it with the following, “My heart tells me…”

A great Sage pointed out that this is the only time in Rashi’s entire commentary that he says, “My heart tells me what it is like.” This means that everything else that Rashi commented on was substantiated through a source and with total clarity!

In addition, at certain points of his commentary Rashi un-bashfully states, “I am not clear what this means.”
Moshe and Rashi are examples of how our great ones were totally committed to seek and convey the truth of Torah.

A legendary story is told that Rashi’s father Yitzchok had a rare and extremely expensive jewel that people wished to purchase to adorn their idol. They conspired to have him join them on a ship while he was in possession of the gem. Eventually he was faced with no choice but to sell the gem; whereupon he cast the gem into the sea.

A Heavenly voice was reportedly heard in Reb Yitzchok’s Synagogue, “For your devoted unselfish sacrifice, you will merit to have a gem – in the form of a son who will illuminate and enlighten the Jewish people with his wisdom.” This most precious gem was Rashi!

Wishing you a most restful, uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks