Where is Moses?

Our Torah portion this week (Tetzave), does not mention Moses by name even once. This is certainly a striking oddity, since Moses is mentioned by name throughout the entire Torah, from the story of his birth in the portion of Shemot, until the final portion of “vezot Habracha”.

Why is Moses’s name omitted in this week’s parshah? There are three chief reasons. One is that Moses’s anio, the 7th of Adar, always falls during the week of this portion, and that is the Torah’s way of paying homage to Moses, and marking his departure from this world to the realm of truth.

Secondly, our portion deals extensively with the Cohanim’s roles and obligations, and specifically with the role of the Cohen Gadol /High Priest, and since Aaron was the first Cohen Gadol/High Priest, this parshah is “Aaron’s turn to shine.” In fact, Aaron’s name appears in our portion more than 30 times.

Lastly, in next week’s parshah (Ki Tisa), G-d wants to destroy the Jewish people following the story of the golden calf, and Moses pleads with G-d not to destroy the Jewish people. At one point, Moses goes so far as to say that if G-d intends to annihilate the Jewish people, then G-d should also take him (Moses) out of His book. This was such a selfless act, that the Torah wishes to recognize Moses’s altruism by actually taking his name entirely out of one of the portions, in order to highlight Moses’s limitless devotion to the people of Israel.

Recognition is a basic human need. Most people are good, and not malicious. But we also have a strong need to be recognized for the good that we do, to be appreciated and seen. Moses was beyond that. He did not need any glory, praise or adulation. His love for our people was boundless, and was not dependent upon external rewards. And that’s another reason why Moses’s name is absent from our portion.

May we all seek to approximate this type of intrinsic love, which is not contingent upon external rewards, in our relationships with our loved ones and with the Almighty.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sessler

Post a comment