This week's Torah portion presents a very potent anomaly - Moses' name is glaringly absent from the entire section.
This week's Torah portion presents a very potent anomaly - Moses' name is glaringly absent from the entire section. The most obvious question is: Why? What did Moses do to deserve the omission of his name from Parshat Tetzaveh? Moses is the pivotal figure in the history of the Jews in the desert. He should be present at every step of the journey.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a contemporary Torah scholar in Israel, suggests that Moses' presence permeates the events in the desert to such a great extent that his name does not need to be mentioned. Moses' absence is not critical but congratulatory. Similarly, in the Passover Haggadah which retells the story of the exodus from Egypt, Moses' name is not mentioned at all, even though he was the redeemer of the Jewish people. His name is omitted precisely because his personality portrays the essence of the redemption.
Perhaps Moses' elusiveness in this week's Torah portion is, in truth, to charge the nation with a mission. This can be explained by focusing on Hashem's command for Moses to tell the Jewish people to collect the various supplies for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle): "Take for Me a portion from every man whose heart motivates him" (Exodus 25:2). The contributions must be purely for the sake of Hashem, without any mixture of social pressures or ulterior motives, as illustrated by the injunction "for Me" and the requirement that it be only from those "whose heart motivates" them. Do not tell them simply to give a gift, but rather they should actually take it from themselves, from their personality.
The ideal educator does not force his student to do an action, but rather communicates ideas which will hopefully stimulate the student to give on his own. The educator should be seen and not be seen, hidden but present. To a certain degree, the teacher needs to hide behind the scenes so that the student can give of himself from a total internal desire and experience true growth.
Moses remains somewhat on the sidelines, his name not even mentioned, to allow a change to take place within the Jewish nation. Moses had communicated Hashem's ideals to the people, and now he takes a step back in order for the Jewish people to shift their attitude in regards to their gifts for the Mishkan. Moses' absence from this week's Torah portion is, therefore, not a derogatory statement about him, but an open display of just how great a teacher Moses really was.
Mark Goldberg, who used to live in Atlanta, now resides in Detroit, Michigan.
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