INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUILDING the mishkan
(Tabernacle), the portable
Sanctuary of the wilderness – from the materials to be used, to the people
involved, the dimensions, the colors and the functions – are complete to the
smallest detail. However, in Parashat
Tetzaveh, which focuses on the role of the Kohanim,
an important component is noticeable by its absence:
the name of Moshe. Throughout,
the Torah refers to Moshe, as Moshe, but in this Parasha intentionally avoids calling him by name.
Instead, three times he is addressed with the word VE’ATAH – And
MOSHE ALSHECH (16th Century) insists that, rather than being an
omission, the word VE’ATAH (which is grammatically superfluous) actually
emphasizes Moshe’s centrality. In
each of these commands, every
segment of the community of Israel participates:
the people, to provide the materials; Betzalel, Oholiav and the various
craftsmen, to fashion the items; the Kohanim,
to serve; and Hashem Himself, the Source of the commands and in Whose name the
Mishkan is built.
Hashem consoles Moshe: even
though you do not play an active role in constructing the Mishkan,
VE’ATAH – it is only through your indispensable agency that these four
components can be brought together.
OHR HA’CHAIM (R. Chaim ben Moshe Ibn-Attar, 1696-1743) goes further:
all the actions connected
with the Mishkan will be accounted
by Hashem as if Moshe himself had
LIGHT PROVIDED BY THE PURE OLIVE OIL represents the light of Torah.
VE’ATAH TETZAVEH focuses on Moshe’s exclusive role in the
transmission of Hashem’s commandments.
The Mishkan will be constructed, the Kohanim will attain their status by donning their garments, and they
will serve in the Mishkan, only
through Moshe’s prophecy. Hashem
enjoins Moshe, “And you shall
command”, not merely as one
who delivers My message, but as your own command.
AND HIS SONS, although they are taking Moshe’s place as Kohanim
(see Shemot 4:14 and Rashi there), must be invested with their office
in joy and enthusiasm. Hashem
instructs Moshe, VE’ATAH HAKREV – And
you shall bring near: take
this to your heart willingly, not just as a Divine decree, and your happiness
will be your offering.
CRAFTSMEN WHO WILL FASHION the garments for the Kohanim do not require
instructions from Moshe. Still,
VE’ATAH TE’DABER – And you shall speak to all the wise of heart to show
your approval and to give your support.
THREE TIMES VE’ATAH is said it encompasses the Mishkan in all its elements: the
donations, the construction and its functioning.
In every way, Moshe
THE REDEMPTION FROM EGYPT and the Revelation, in which he was so central,
Moshe, must now be prepared to play the role of the Enabler in the context of
the Mishkan. He is the one who
facilitates the achievements of others. The names of Aharon and his sons, Betzalel and Oholiav will
be forever associated with the Mishkan,
while Moshe’s will retreat into the background.
SITUATION is like that of every teacher of distinguished students,
every assistant to the famous, every parent of accomplished children, every
spouse of the prominent. It is a
condition of anonymity and self-sacrifice, lending private counsel and
encouragement while finding contentment in the quiet knowledge that the goals
are being reached.
THE DAUGHTER OF KALBA-SAVUA, endured crushing poverty and estrangement from
her wealthy father so that her husband could rise from ignorance to become the
great Rabbi Akiva. When he
returned after 24 years of Torah study with 24,000 students, she came forward
and was nearly rebuffed by the students.
Rabbi Akiva ordered them to accord her great respect, saying, “All
that I have and all that you have is hers” (Nedarim
IN THE SECULAR WORLD, in which success is measured by fame, it is not fashionable to promote the dignity of the unobtrusive Enabler, as illustrated in an exchange between Napoleon and his secretary Bourrienne:
“You too will be
immortal,” said the world conqueror.
HOWEVER, WHEN TORAH VALUES are at stake, the fulfillment of Hashem’s will is more desired than public acclaim.