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The Midrash Ha’ne’elam (quoted in Torah Sheleimah) explains that Moshe
Rabbeinu’s name does not appear in our parashah because he said, after the
sin of the Golden Calf (Shmot 32:32), “And now if You would but forgive
their sin! -- but if not, erase me from Your book that You have written.”
Says the midrash: Moshe cursed himself conditionally, and Hashem in fact
forgave Bnei Yisrael’s sin as a result of his plea. Even so, he was erased
from one of the lofty parashot in the Torah which speaks of the building of
the mishkan. Moshe Rabbeinu’s name should have been written in connection
with every aspect and every mitzvah in this parashah, but it was erased.
This teaches that the curse of a Torah scholar comes true even if it was
uttered conditionally. [Until here from the midrash]
R’ Menachem Mendel Kasher z”l (1895-1983; prolific author of Torah works)
explains, citing earlier commentators: Even though the verse quoted above
appears in next week’s parashah, it is a general rule that the Torah is not
necessarily written in chronological order.
Why was this parashah chosen as the one from which Moshe’s name would be
excluded? R’ Kasher writes, again citing other works: Originally, Moshe,
not Aharon, was to have been the Kohen Gadol. However, when Moshe refused
to go to Pharaoh to demand Bnei Yisrael’s freedom and he suggested that
Aharon go in his place, the Torah says (Shmot 4:14), “The wrath of Hashem
burned against Moshe and He said, “Is there not Aharon your brother, the
levi?” He meant: Aharon would have been a levi, and you a kohen, but now it
will be the reverse. Therefore, Moshe’s name is omitted from the parashah
that discusses the garments of the kohanim.
Some, however, explain the absence of Moshe’s name in our parashah as a sign
of distinction. The parashah opens, “Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael . .
.” Because this parashah is the conclusion of the description of the
mishkan, Hashem wanted to give honor to Moshe by giving him a role in
commanding Bnei Yisrael, without the usual introduction, “Hashem spoke to
Moshe.” (Torah Sheleimah)
“You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon your brother, for glory and
What “glory and splendor” was demonstrated by the bigdei kehunah / the
uniforms of the kohanim? R’ Yehonatan Eyebschutz z”l (Germany; died 1764)
Halachah requires the garments of the Kohen Gadol to fit him exactly. How
was this possible? The Torah (Vayikra 21:10) refers to the Kohen Gadol as
“the kohen who is gadol [literally “bigger”] than his brethren.” Our Sages
say that when a kohen was anointed to be High Priest, he actually grew until
he was taller than the other kohanim. If so, how could the Kohen Gadol’s
clothing fit him exactly? After all, he had to be fitted for his new
“uniform” before he was anointed, and after he was anointed, he grew taller!
The answer, says R’ Eyebschutz, is that the Kohen Gadol’s garments grew with
him. This was the “glory and splendor” of the bigdei kehunah.
Why did Hashem arrange things such that this miracle became necessary? Was
there not enough “glory and splendor” in the fact that the Kohen Gadol grew
R’ Eyebschutz answers: We read in Mishlei (15:30), “Enlightened eyes will
gladden the heart; good news will fatten the bone.” In effect, one who
receives good tidings stands taller. Thus, if only the body of the Kohen
Gadol “grew,” we might have thought that it was a natural consequence of his
promotion. Therefore, to make clear that a miracle had occurred, the Kohen
Gadol’s clothes grew with him. (Tiferet Yehonatan)
“Into the Breastplate of Judgment shall you place the Urim and the Tumim,
and they shall be on Aharon’s heart when he comes before Hashem; and Aharon
shall bear the judgment of Bnei Yisrael on his heart constantly before
R’ Shlomo Kluger z”l (1785-1869; rabbi of Brody, Galicia) explains how the
Urim V’tumim connected with the “judgment of Bnei Yisrael.”
Our Sages teach that there are two ways that the Jewish People can succeed
in judgment. One way is by observing the Torah, while the second is by
being unified. If Bnei Yisrael are unified, then even if they are
idolators, they will be acquitted in judgment, the Midrash Rabbah says.
R’ Kluger continues: “Urim” (אורים) represents the Torah, as in the verse
(Mishlei 6:23), “Torah ohr” (אור) / “The Torah is light.” “Tumim” (תומים)
represents unity, as in Bereishit 25:24), “Tomim” (תומים) / “twins,” and
(Shmot 36:29) “Tamim” (תמים) / “paired.” Thus, the Urim V’tumim alludes to
the two ways that Bnei Yisrael can succeed in judgment. (Chochmat Ha’Torah
“Aharon and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning, before
Hashem, an eternal decree for their generations.” (27:21)
R’ Chaim Palagi z”l (1788-1868; rabbi of Izmir, Turkey) writes that this
verse from our parashah alludes to the events and miracles recalled by
Parashat Zachor [which typically is read with this week’s parashah in a
non-leap year]. He explains:
How are we to understand the depth of Hashem’s anger at Amalek? Surely He
is not like a human who bears a grudge indefinitely! The Midrash Tanchuma
answers this question with a parable: Bnei Yisrael immediately after the
Exodus may be compared to a scalding bath; people avoid it until the first
person jumps in and cools it off for other bathers, though he personally
will be scalded. Similarly, by being the first to attack Bnei Yisrael,
Amalek shattered the aura of Divine protection that surrounded them after
the Exodus and gave other nations the courage to attack as well,
notwithstanding that Amalek itself was severely punished. This is why
Hashem will not let go of His anger, so-to-speak. Amalek is responsible for
every future attack against Yisrael, the apple of Hashem’s eye. Just as
Amalek’s sin is unending, so His anger is unending.
R’ Palagi continues: Our Sages carefully chose a scalding bath as a
metaphor. We find in Tanach and midrashim that Torah is compared to fire
and Torah is compared to water. How can the Torah be like two things which
are incompatible with each other?
The answer is that the affirmative commandments, which parallel the Divine
Attribute of Chessed / Kindness, are like water and the negative
commandments, which parallel the Divine Attribute of Gevurah / Strictness
are like fire. [The affirmative commandments are to be sought after, like
water and kindness, while the negative commandments relate to acts that are
to avoided like fire and strictness.]
The Gemara (Shabbat 118b) states that Amalek attacked Bnei Yisrael because
they transgressed Shabbat. [Amalek’s attack is described in the Torah
immediately after the violation of the commandment not to collect mahn on
Shabbat.] Shabbat involves both a positive commandment (“Zachor”) and a
negative commandment (“Shamor”). For violating Shabbat, Bnei Yisrael
deserved to be punished by fire or water, which, combined, make a scalding bath.
The above explains, as well, why our Sages emphasize that the holiday of
Purim will never cease to be observed. All anti-Semitism that exists
results indirectly from the audacious act of Amalek, Haman’s ancestor, who
shattered Bnei Yisrael’s appearance of invincibility. Just as the
consequences of Amalek’s act are felt throughout history, so the defeat of
his descendant Haman will be celebrated throughout history.
Returning to our verse, R’ Palagi writes: “Evening” and “morning” allude to
the two readings of the Megillat Esther. This mitzvah is “an eternal
decree,” as just explained. (Birkat Mo’adecha L’Chaim: Drush Aleph
Letters from Our Sages
The letter below was written by R’ Gamliel HaKohen Rabinowitz-Rappaport
shlita, currently a rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Shaar Ha’shamayim in
Yerushalayim. It is printed in Tiv Ha’halachah p.144.
May The Merciful One remember for us the merit of Moshe, the loyal shepherd!
To all those who come here, whether regularly or occasionally, to pray or
study in this mikdash me’at / minor temple [a euphemism for a shul] -- may
Hashem be with them so they shall live!
Because Shabbat of Parashat Tetzaveh is the third anniversary of the
founding of this mikdash me’at, I decided, with G-d’s help, to write for the
purpose of strengthening myself and others regarding the most important of
principles--not to speak during davening. Besides the great improvement [in
the quality of one’s prayer] that will result directly from not speaking
during davening, one who observes this also will be saved from a number of
prohibitions that are spelled out expressly in the Shulchan Aruch.
First, one will be saved from the prohibition of being distracted while
wearing tefilin (see Shulchan Aruch 28:1).
Likewise, one will be saved from the prohibition of speaking during kaddish
(see Mishnah Berurah, beginning of ch.56 [quoting midrashim and other works
that describe the punishment for speaking during kaddish]).
Also, one will be able to fulfill the requirement (Shulchan Aruch 124:4) to
listen to the chazzan’s repetition of shemoneh esrei, to concentrate on his
blessings, and to recite “amen.” [Halachah states:] If there are not nine
people concentrating on the chazzan’s blessings, they are practically
blessings said in vain.
In addition, one who becomes accustomed to the above will not transgress the
prohibition (Shulchan Aruch 151:1) on frivolous and light-hearted behavior
in shul . . .
Therefore, let us give glory to our Elokim and, as one, accept Him as our
One King. Let us accept upon ourselves to act with awe in the mikdash
me’at, and in this merit may we soon see the building of the Bet Hamikdash.
From the one who blesses you with the priestly blessing with love.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
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