A Taste of Torah in Honor of Shabbat
by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Shabbat Parshat Tezaveh
9 Adar 5758, March 6-7, 1998
No individual is mentioned more often in the Torah than Moshe (Moses). In fact, in
the last four books of the Bible, which deal with his life, Moshe is mentioned in every
portion - except one; the portion of Tezaveh which we read this Shabbat.
Some suggest that Moshe's name is omitted as this portion is usually read during the week
marking Moshe's death. Still others insist that this portion occurs after the
incident of the Golden Calf when Moshe tells God, if you do not forgive the sin of
the Jewish people, blot my name out of the Torah. (Exodus 32: 32)
Having made this statement, his name, indeed, never appears in Tezaveh.
Another suggestion comes to mind. After all, it's not as if Moshe does not
play a role in this week's portion. He does. The Torah tells us that Moshe who
according to the Ibn Ezra was the first priest, brings Aaron his brother
"near" to become High Priest. (Exodus 28: 1) Moreover, Moshe speaks
to the wise hearted men to make Aaron's priestly garments. (Exodus 28: 3)
Additionally, Moshe prepares the sacrificial service to be offered on the day Aaron
would assume his post. (Exodus 29: 1) Finally, Moshe washes Aaron and
his sons and actually dresses them in their priestly garments.
(Exodus 29: 4-9)
But in every instance, without exception, Moshe is mentioned through the use of a
pronoun. Why? Why not record Moshe's name?
Perhaps to underscore that Moshe was prepared to share leadership, to shine the spotlight
on his brother, and when doing so, far from feeling jealous or cheated, he felt joyous.
So joyous that he himself calls Aaron forward, he himself arranges for Aaron's
garments , he himself prepares the sacrificial service for Aaron, and he himself washes
and dresses Aaron. In fact, Moshe even washes and
dresses Aaron's sons, an action that perhaps could evoke the greatest jealousy in him, as
it reminds Moshe that his sons were unworthy to inherit his position of leadership.
Hence, Moshe's name is not mentioned because even as he steps forward to facilitate every
step of Aaron becoming the High Priest, he does so graciously and remains absolutely
self-effacing. Moshe, the leader of
leaders, is true to the Torah's description of him: "Now the man Moshe
was very humble, more than any human being on the face of the earth." (Numbers
All this teaches the power of stepping back, making space for others-joyously and with
humility. Traits that all of us ought consider aspiring to reach.
& HAPPY PURIM!
"Tastes of Torah"
from Rabbi Avi Weiss
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