Pasuk by Pasuk T’tzaveh
Unedited transcript: In last week’s portion we have the list of most of the vessels that go into the mishkan, the tabernacle, including the mishkan itself, the structure of the building and the portable components of it and we found that some of it had different qualities then the others. For instance, the ark always had poles in it and different things. The ark’s poles were never removed; they had two sets of poles. They may have had legs and they may not have, we do not know. But you had the basic kayleem and at this point there are certain things that are missing. For example, the mizbayach haKitoret, the incense altar that has not yet been listed as one of the vessels of the midbar. The best or prettiest explanation I have heard for the incense altar is not listed in the portion of Terumah, which is last week’s portion, but it is coming up in this week’s portion. It is that we say that each one of the vessels of the mishkan brings atonement for different things. Each part of the clothing of the Kohanim brings atonement for different sins as well. For example, the garb of the high priest, he had a tunic and on the bottom of the tunic was a series of bells and pomegranates and the pomegranates would ring against the bells and make little noises. And that piece of clothing was to bring atonement for the sin of Lashon Harah.
So speaking evil about someone else behind their back. Noise brought atonement for noise, there is a lot of depth to it but that is more not for the context of this kind of class. Anyways in Mizbeyach Hakitoret because it is kitoret so it is intangible. It is not something that you can touch and actually quantify or qualify. It is just a smell. So therefore we know that it comes to bring atonement for sins that are equally ephemeral: such as evil thoughts. I have thoughts that I am going to sin. Or an evil fantasy or something wrong in my heart: doubts about G-d or other types of sins. So the atonement for that comes from Mizbeyach Hakitoret, the incense altar. That which is ephemeral, comes and brings atonement for sins that are also intangible.
So there is a Sefer called the Klai Chamudah and he explains that at least, according to Nachmanidies who believed that the commandment to construct the mishkan came before the sin of the golden calf and that is how it is presented in the Torah, so then that would mean that originally there was no need for a Mizbeyach HaKitoret, an incense altar. Before the sin of the golden calf, there was no sin in the world. We had regained the status of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. So there was no need for such a Mizbeyach of Kitoret. Our entire existence would have been free of such sins. So it was only in this week’s portion when you begin to see hints of the sin that will come, that you have the commandment to construct the Mizbeyach HaKitoret. But the portion begins as follows: it says that Moshe should get perfect olive oil, and perfect olive oil means the first drop that is squeezed out of each olive and that drop was used for the candle for the menorah. Now just for your mind, you have to realize that it was impossible because the amount of oil that you would need, these were not little buckets like on the Chanukah menorahs. These were big buckets. So it was a giant menorah. Aharon had to walk up a ladder to get to the top of the wick. So you are talking about thousands and thousands of drops of oil. It is a whole story of how were they ever able to get this much oil. That is number one.
Number two: they are in the middle of the desert. Where are they going to get the oil? You do not have olive trees growing in the desert, right? That is one thing. Then you have, and I am going to do something a little differently this week just to open the portion for you so you will see something, look at the opening verse on page five-nineteen. V’ata Titzaveh et Bnai Yisroel, and you shall command the children of Israel. Already there is something different about the way that this portion begins from the way other portions begin. It should really stand out. And you shall command the children of Israel.
Audience: “Command them?” No, Moshe is often told to command them. Oh, are you saying he is often told to speak to them? But there is even something else missing, something even more shocking. Usually it says and G-d spoke to Moshe, speak to the children of Israel. First of all it is written in the third person. And G-d or and the Lord spoke to Moshe and said to Moshe, and then it would say speak to the children of Israel. Here it goes and addresses it directly, you and you, and it never says that G-d told him to speak. That is number one. But now look at the top of page five-twenty. So section one, the section of the oil, begins without G-d speaking to Moshe and with a commandment V’ata Titzaveh. Page five-twenty at the top of the page is when Moshe is told to bring Aharon and his sons close and set them as Kohanim, which is the introduction for the laws of the Bigdei Kehunah, the clothes of the Kohanim, and look at that too.
V’ata HaKrev Elecha, and you bring close to you. Again it begins with the word Ata and you and it is followed by HaKrev Elecha, bring close to you. Go back to the top of page five-nineteen, how is the commandment to collect oil phrased? V’yechu Elecha, you should take it to you. So there seems to be something going on. First of all, whose name is not mentioned? Moshe’s name is not mentioned. Number two: they both begin and you shall do this, and in both cases so far it says Elecha, to you. So is it not interesting that in a portion for some reason deliberately ignores Moshe’s name and this is the only portion from the time that Moshe first appeared in the Torah until the end of the Torah that his name will not be mentioned at all. And then page five-thirty four, chapter thirty, you will find a third commandment of the portion.
So you have the first part, which is the oil, then you have the Kohanim, then you have how the Kohanim were consecrated, how they were anointed, as part of that middle section. The third section begins with chapter thirty, which begins on page five-thirty four. Again you do not have G-d speaking to Moshe, but and you shall make an altar, a Mizbeyach HaKitoret, an incense altar. Why is it that the incense altar waits until the end of this portion and it is not listed with the other commandments of the vessels of the Mikdash? All right now let us go back to the opening portion. So those are the three main portions. You have the first section, which is the oil for the menorah, and then you have the section which is bringing the Kohanim clothes, which includes the manufacture of their clothes. And the four basic clothes, pieces of clothing for the Kohanim, and eight pieces of clothing for the Kohayn Gadol, each one bringing atonement for a different sin, just as each vessel in the mishkan, in the Tabernacle, brought atonement for a different sin. And how they were consecrated and anointed, and then you have the end of the section, which is the Mizbeyach HaKitoret, the incense altar.
This is pasuk by pasuk, not a parsha thing so let us go verse by verse. Okay, are you ready? Audience: “Does the sedrah open without any paragraph?” No, there is only one, which opens without a new paragraph and that is VaYichee. But it opens without saying and G-d spoke to Moshe saying, or the Lord said to Moshe saying, and you shall speak to the children of Israel. Pardon? In the scripture it is a separate paragraph. Look at the top of your page on page five-nineteen; you will see the three samechs. Three samechs indicate that is a new paragraph. Okay? Shall we? Okay I see that we are all as excited and into it as we were last week.
V’ata Tizaveh et Bnai Yisroel, and you shall command the children of Israel, V’yeekchu elecha, just for your information, do you see that line over the koof? So the reason is as follows. Really the word should be—the proper Hebrew should be—V’yikichu, now how would you like to speak Hebrew like that? V’yikichu. It is dragged out. So you have a concept in grammar called Sheva Miracheyk, that you have a Sheva, two dots underneath each other. Sometimes you do it softly, like shema, and other times you do it harsh. So when you have a bunch in a row then you smash them together a little bit and you turn the middle one into an e. For example, do you say l’yerushalayim, or do you say lee’rushalayim? Because it does not flow. A good part of Hebrew grammar is based on whether it will flow or not. Right? We are not like Spanish, let us say, where none of the sounds make sense or certainly not like Danish. Cannot understand the sounds let alone the words. Okay so you shall command the children of Israel, V’yeekchu elecha, and they shall take to you, Shemen Zayit Zach Chasees La’mior. Olive oil, pure, beaten for light, Laha’alot Ner Tamid, to cause them to burn continually. Okay ladies and gentlemen, the floor is now open for your questions. We ask the fundamental question, which is why does it not begin by saying and G-d spoke to Moshe, which I will answer as soon as you finish your question.
Why is it and they shall take to you, rather then saying and they shall bring to you? So someone here will answer, well that probably is the natural development of bringing the Terumah. So you are shaking your head. Audience: “No I am nodding my head. That is the next point.” It is? All you are saying is that there is a parallel; you have not explained it yet. Are you going to let us get away with that? Does it answer your question? Do you want me to be nice to you or talk? Audience: “Please, go ahead.” No, I am serious. Audience: “No, no, I mean I have problems with Modern Hebrew and that is what triggered my question. Maybe you are right.” Right that what? I did not say anything. All I said is that you will find another example somewhere in the Bible, but does that answer your question? Audience: “Why does it use this in the other place?” Oh good I was waiting for you to ask the question. Right so Geraldine what was the question we gave last week? Audience: “You separate it from what you have first makes it–” Or even makes it your own. I do not know if you can take it that far. But what we drew out ourselves was an example of by me taking money from my pocket and handing it to Job. That is one thing. The other thing is taking money out of my pocket and saying I am setting this money aside to give to someone who needs it and then I am picking up that money and giving it to Job.
So if I would just take money out of my pocket and give it to Job so I gave it, but really there is a stage missing there because there is never a point at which I take my own money and change it while it is still in my own possession. V’yikchu means and I take it out of my pocket and I set it aside and by setting it aside I am making it my own. I am—actually the way the Chasidim read it is that you are taking it for yourself. It is not really yours until you know how to do something constructive with it and so it is finally yours when you have the ability to take it out of your pocket and set it aside. By the way we are supposed to do this in davening. You are supposed to take three coins out of your pocket at the beginning of davening and set them aside, saying I am going to make this money holy. So you set them aside and then when you get to the paragraph and David blessed, so in that paragraph you have the listing of seven of the ten sifeerot. We have Lecha Hashem Teheyu HaGedulah, HaGedulah Teferech HaNetzach HaHod Kee Chol, which is always a symbol for your soul, Lecha Hashem HaMamlacha. And immediately after that you have the world osher, that all the wealth in the world is G-d’s and you take the three coins that you previously set aside and you put into a tzedakah box at that point. And there is all sorts of deep Kabbalistic symbolism in that. I think I did that when I gave the tefillah class on the Pesukei D’zimrah, and I spoke about it.
Pardon? Audience: “I do not know.” Me neither, it does not mean anything. You still remember the information, but I do not remember if I gave it or not. Okay so v’yeekchu elecha, and they should take to you, so what is the next question that you would have in this verse? Audience: “You asked this question before. Where are they going to get this olive oil from?” Right, we asked that before. I will answer it in a second. The Rambam said that they brought it from Egypt and that it was not pure olive oil. How did last week’s portion start when they said and take, when they took the terumah who did they take it for? Beginning of last week’s portion. You cannot forget. You are not allowed to. V’yeekchu lee, take it for me, for G-d. so when they separated the gold and silver, so it says V’yeekchu lee, you should take it for me. Here it is v’yeekchu elecha, for Moshe. So there seems to be a lot of Moshe stuff going on over here. For some reason, his name is not mentioned in the portion at all. But it begins with V’atah, and you. You shall take; they should bring it to you. And I showed you some other examples where they stressed this you idea in the portion as well. So this seems to be a very Moshe parsha.
Right? Whatever it means, it seems to be a very Moshe parsha and I will tell you what Rashi says in just a few minutes. So: so far we have why does it not say G-d spoke to Moshe? Why does it not say Moshe’s name? Why does it say and they shall take? Why does it say and to you? Any other questions on the verse? Pure olive oil beaten for light. Audience: “What does that mean?” It means you beat the olives, and you get out of the oil and you make it for light. Did I say something wrong? Audience: “No, no.” I certainly did. It is a shame you did not get it. Audience: “So elech was for Moshe?” For Moshe that is right. Audience: “Not the individual?” No, for Moshe. In fact what happened with the story of Chanukah? What was the problem? That they did not find any oil with what? Audience: “With a seal on it.” It does not say anywhere that you need oil with a seal on it. Show me one place. There is no such law that you need oil with a seal on it. There never was oil with a seal on it.
Audience: “You need it for a specific purpose for lighting the menorah.” Where does it say that? He said some story about—I heard the same story when I was a kid. All of the books say it. There is just one source for it. Here. Elecha, that it has to come directly to Moshe. There has to be a sign of Moshe and Moshe is represented on the oil. This is the only illusion to it in the Bible or in Jewish literature. Oh, do not look at me like that. I thought that was interesting, but I guess not. Okay but Richard you had no trouble with the oil? Kids, they do not raise them the way they used to. Can I ask you something, which oil do you use for the menorah? How much of the oil of the olive do you use? Audience: “For this menorah? Only the first drop. So why do you have to beat it?” Right and in fact what happens if you beat it? Audience: “You get too much oil out of it.” Yes, so then what is Richard’s question? Do not tell me you need the purest olive oil, which is the first drop out of every olive, and then say beaten. You squeeze it for the first drop, you beat it when you want to get out the rest. You will see then, G-d willing when you have children and you want to get all of the juice out of their hand, you squeeze it just for the first drop and then when you want the rest.
I will tell you, I had an uncle who when he was a boy had trouble with his temper, and his father, meaning my grandfather, insisted that every day of his life he should take all of the seeds of a pomegranate and squeeze them out one by one until he learned patience. And he did. He learned patience. He also learned not to complain to his father if he was having trouble with anything. Audience: “What did he do with the pomegranate juice?” He drank it. Audience: “Did it work?” I really do not know, but you know what I would suggest Richard, that by the time you are finished with me I am going to have to end up squeezing the juice out of a pomegranate.
Okay and that is a good question. Olive oil and beating it, what do you mean beating it? Say olive oil, so you get out the olive oil whenever you want, put it into this fancy food blender, right. So the Torah has to tell me how to get the oil out? Does that make sense? I mean processing? Does it? Pardon? Audience: “Is there a symbolism to be beaten?” I am sure there is. Audience: “So maybe–” But right now we are reading just the verse. The point of this is to read the verse so you can feel that the Torah is speaking to you, because once you feel that you can carry on your own conversation with G-d, and then you look in the mifarshim and it is a much different experience. And once you learn how to just respond to the words in the Torah itself and take every letter seriously, hopefully you learn to do that with the mitzvot too. And then you know let us say if you were the type of person who wanted to raise a home with kids who took their Judaism really seriously, so then they would learn that. Whenever they did a mitzvah, they would think about every detail of the mitzvah and what is it teaching you and what am I supposed to learn out of it. So this is a skill if you develop it that can bear a lot of fruit. Audience: “If you squeeze an olive so you are not getting much oil.” Right but how much oil do you want out of this olive? One. Audience: “One very big drop.” No, you do not want it big. If it is big it is not going to be absolutely pure. Audience: “How is the lamp going to burn with just a drop of oil?” In the same way that Tevya will allow Motel the tailor to marry his daughter. Wonder of wonder, miracles of miracle. This is from the miracle in the Temple. In fact the midrash says, and this would answer Zev’s question, where did they get all of this oil? The midrash says that miraculously they would light the menorah once a year in the Beit Hamikdash and it would remain lit from Erev Rosh Hashanah until the next Rosh Hashanah and the only thing they had to do was add one drop of oil to each bowl or each cup every night. But that it burned continually.
Audience: “They would add another drop?” One drop, because it was hard to get more than that. If you make a calculation, they would have needed thirty tons of olives to get the amount of oil they would need for pure olive oil. Audience: “Why does not he use the word la’alot?” Good question. To go up, yes. Why does it not say to go up, which is always used with the menorah? So if you look in the portion of baha’alotacha, which means when you put up, is on page eight-thirty eight where we have the real commandment of lighting the candles. The second verse. You have the same word and the same verb, just in a different form. See it? Vha’alotacha et haNerot. So for some reason there is always this idea of going up with the light. Audience: “But only as related to this menorah.” Okay so we have a number of questions out in front of us. But let us go back to the most powerful question, which is why is Moshe’s name missing from the portion? And why does it not say at all and G-d commanded Moshe, speaking to the children of Israel and telling them to take the oil? Okay? Audience: “?” Why more here than anywhere else? I do not mean to jump on you. Now that you ask a good first answer, ask a good second question. Audience: “The Kohanim are from Moshe’s family so keeping it on that personal level, it is Moshe’s responsibility then to direct Aharon and his sons.” I think that would be a good explanation of why the second paragraph begins that way, but I am not sure it really answers this first paragraph. Do you want me to be nice to you or—okay. You know there are times that you could say somethings that are very nice but they are flying in the air and it has to be more solidly based. This is a skills class, if I am mean to someone it is not to be mean, you know? It really is not. The point is to give people skills. If you were in a regular parsha class, that is fine.
Audience: “The direction of the light and everything seems to be going up, and the fact that it has been given to Moshe, the idea that it keeps going up.” Why more here than any other point? Why now and here, at the beginning of Tezaveh? What does going up mean? Why is he going up and not the Jewish people? Why is not everyone going up closer to Hashem? Audience: “When he speaks he speaks to Bnai Yisroel.” So why is he not consistent from this point on? Or is this only a temporary rise? So what is the story? Answer the question. Audience: “Bnai Yisroel represented by Moshe. He drives them to a higher level.” Only temporarily, because it is only in this one portion.” Well it depends on if he is doing it chronologically.” Why does it matter when it is? There is certainly the rest of the Torah that follows it. What makes you think that the Jewish people are being symbolized by the light of the candle going up? Audience: “Because they are building the mishkan–” So why do they not remain that way? I do not understand what that means. You are not answering. Why is it only the menorah that makes them go up? Why is it not the construction of the mishkan or the manufacture of the clothes or the offer of the sacrifices or something permanent? Audience: “The menorah is the symbol of what is happening.” Why is the menorah chosen as a symbol of what is happening? Audience: “Because it is light.” I cannot answer that. I do not know what that means. Audience: “Light is the symbol of Hashem.” Why is light the symbol of Hashem? Where is light used as a symbol of Hashem in Beresheit? Okay so let us say I will show you other Ner Tamids that are not associated with light. What is the point? Audience: “That Bnai Yisroel is going to a higher level.” So they are rising to a higher level than the menorah then they would be rising anywhere else with anything else they made. And that is proven by the fact that it says and you should put the candle up. And they are rising here and it is only temporary. And it is not when they are lighting the candle but it is when they are collecting the oil to make the candle. Because it uses the word going up one time, it is telling you that this is a process. Would you not have to prove that to me?
It is very poetic and it is very nice. Audience: “Well I am connecting the fact that Moshe’s name is not used and yet Moshe is not even part of this. It must be the level he is rising to, it is so high that there is no name there.” Then why does his name come back in the rest of the Torah? Why is his name mentioned in the other portion of the menorah? Audience: “Because the point is that they were lost.” Okay, all right. If you are happy with that. No, do not be unhappy with it because I am not. You cannot come from a Chasidis class to a Pshat class. Chasidis is not Pshat. I am not saying what you are saying is not true, but it is not Pshat and what we are trying to do is read verse how they read on a natural level. Okay? Alright so any other questions? I am really not doing it to be mean.
All right let me tell you what Rashi says. Of course now I will not find it. I am not looking for the Rashi, I am looking for a verse. Page five-fifty four, it is chapter thirty-two, verse thirty-one. You know that Moshe came down, he smashed the luchot and then he went back to heaven for a second set of forty days. Right? And the second set of forty days was for him to pray for G-d to forgive the Jews and to convince G-d to continue to deal with the Jews directly as G-d had before the sin of the golden calf. After they were forgiven it still was not a complete forgiveness. He came down and he went back up, and that was for a third set of forty days and that is when he brought down the second set of tablets on Yom Kippur. The verse we are about to read is a description of his second trip up Sinai for the second set of forty days when he was praying for G-d to forgive the Jews. You got the chronology? V’yashav Moshe Al Hashem, and Moshe returned to G-d. And this is the next day, as it says in the previous verse and it was the next day. And Moshe went up to G-d, Va’yomar, and he said, Ana, please G-d, Chatah HaAm HaZeh Chata’ah Gedolah, his nation sinned a very great sin, Vaya’asu LaHem Elohei Zahav, and they made for themselves a golden god. V’ata, and now, Eem Teesah Al Chata’sam, if you will carry their sin. If you will forgive them, we are going to talk. V’eem Ayin, but if you are not going to forgive them, Macheinee Meesefer Asher Kasafta, erase me from the book you have written. I do not want to be in the Torah.
So now remember. Rashi holds that the portions of terumah and tezaveh were given after the sin of the golden calf. Rashi holds that there was no purpose, no need for a mishkan, a Tabernacle, before the sin. And the portions are written out of order for whatever reason. So that means that this portion of Tetzaveh was given after this conversation between G-d and Moshe. Therefore, G-d said to Moshe in a moment of anger or in a moment where you were willing to confront me, you said to me, if you will not forgive the Jews, erase my name from the Book. Fine, I am going to erase your name from the Book. In one portion your name will not be mentioned at all, and that is in this week’s portion Tetzaveh. And that is why the portion does not begin and G-d spoke to Moshe saying. Because Moshe’s name is not mentioned in this week’s portion even once. Yes? Audience: “But that still does not explain why this portion.” Excellent. So first of all, it does not explain why in this portion as opposed to any other portion in the Torah. Good. Question number two.
Audience: “It does not seem like such a big punishment. I mean Moshe’s name is in the Torah so many times.” Who says he means it as a punishment? Just like if someone like Moshe says something, G-d takes it very seriously. Audience: “He said erase my name from the Book, meanwhile it only came out of one chapter, so–” What we say is that when a Zaddik says something, even if it is on condition, it is going to happen. Audience: “If you only say—so how would we know this–” We did not. Rashi said it. We said that we would do the Rashis, so I am telling you what Rashi said. Audience: “Which means Rashi wrote it.” Yes. Rashi never came to this course, which is obvious, right? Audience: “If the chronology is that the sins sinned. Moshe said erase my name, G-d said okay, the next chapter of the Torah I will leave your name out. So that is what came next.” So you are following up on Debbie’s question. Debbie’s question is why this portion, not only why this portion, but it should be the first portion after the sin of the golden calf which is according to Rashi terumah. But there is another point. What did we say when we were first reading the verses, who did we think was coming out as a star in this week’s portion? Who? Audience: “Aharon.” No. Who ever mentioned Aharon before? Punch him, will you? No. Come on we were talking about it before. V’atah, and you, V’yeekchu elecha, take it to you, V’ata, and you, HaKrev Elecha. Moshe. So what do you mean his name is not mentioned? Big deal his name is not mentioned. Every big thing is this is for you, you do it for you, everything is for you. The whole portion is do it for you, so what is going on over here? What is this idea anyway? You know? How is Moshe threatening G-d by saying, well, you know, you do not forgive them, so you might as well take my name out of my Book.
G-d was saying, I do not know if I can handle that. Just because I am infinite and omnipotent, but I better—Audience: “Moshe said erase me from your Book. Which book was he talking about?” Sounds like the Torah. Audience: “Maybe he was referring to the Book of Life. Maybe he was saying if you destroy the Jews, so you can destroy me too.” He probably was, but from the context it certainly seems to be talking about the Book of the Torah. Audience: “What does that have to do if you cannot erase things, you know, you can on a superficial level, but–” Right, so develop it more. Alan would be proud of you. Audience: “Alan, why?” It is a long story. Audience: “So what do you mean develop the concept more?” Take what you are saying. Just refine it. I think that you are. Okay.
Audience: “Well he was pressing to be taken out, which was a threat, or intended as a threat or something. And G-d being more powerful than Moses says well you can ask for some things but what is, is and even on the superficial level to have your name taken out.” Could you say it the way you said it the first time? Audience: “Well I like to keep things concise. A presence is a presence whether the name is there or not.” Okay so a presence is a presence whether the name is there or not. How does that answer the question?
It is true a presence is the presence. We are just coming up with these beautiful thoughts. I happen to think it is magnificent though. Audience: “What you get out of the fact that his name was not mentioned. I mean he was there, even though he was not mentioned.” That he was there in a very important way, probably more so then other portions, even though his name is not mentioned. So what is G-d telling him? Even if the name is erased his presence is still there, which is what you are saying. So what is he basically saying about Moshe’s name? It does not matter. The name does not matter. Your presence is there. Okay? Audience: “When G-d first told Moshe, so can you say that he is a vehicle.” If he only uses him by name he is using him as a vehicle. In other words if Moshe says, take my name out and I will teach you a lesson, and G-d is still able to use it without using Moshe’s name, that Moshe is no longer a vehicle, he becomes a presence. That is what Lisa is saying. In other words until this point, Moshe could serve as a spokesman, as a mouthpiece. But a mouthpiece does not necessarily have a presence of his own. What is the name of Bill Clinton’s press secretary? What is his name? You have to know do you not?
Audience: “Bill.” I think it is Bill too, but I do not want to say. But meanwhile, what does that tell you? Audience: “A mouthpiece is a mouthpiece.” A mouthpiece is a mouthpiece. Right? You remember these fast breaking stories, and unless it comes from a famous reporter like Lisa Castleman, you are not going to remember the story you heard it from, you are going to remember the story itself. Right? So I think that what you are saying really combines with what Lisa is saying, and that Moshe may not have understood it at this point, which was that until now Moshe was a mouthpiece. G-d is saying I want you to speak for me. And what Lisa is saying is look Moshe, you are saying take me out of the Book, fine I can take you out of the Book but your presence is everywhere. Your presence has been insinuated in the dot of every “I” and the cross of every “T” in the Bible. So you are not simply a mouthpiece. Now go back to Joan’s idea of Tamid, what did you say that Tamid represented? That which is eternal, is that not you, or is it someone else? La’alot Ner Tamid was Richard. And the oil burns eternally, is a sense of eternity. What that means is that as long as Moshe is only a spokesperson, so then really his effectiveness really will wear off. Eventually it does, because you can lose your aura as a spokesperson and the material begins to taper. A major article about Thomas Jefferson and it was a very powerful article, except for one thing.
One of the major ideas in the article was that Thomas Jefferson had offered the Constitution. He became separated from that which he had done. The three major accomplishments of his life: one was the Declaration of Independence, the separation of church and state, and certain laws in the State of Virginia. But for some reason he became identified with the Constitution. In other words, you lose the connection between certain people which what they have done. What G-d is telling Moshe, and we will find out why it is in this week’s portion, is that you want to be erased from the Book, you do not understand. I can erase your name from the Book, but the whole essence of the Book is yours now as well. And you have to understand that. At the same time that he takes Moshe’s name out and he shows him that his presence is still there, he also gives him a great deal of present with a T. He says V’yeekchu elecha, they have to bring the oil to you. V’ata HaKrev Elecha, you have to bring the Kohanim close to you. Everything Moshe is you and I am focusing on you. So it becomes a very Moshe oriented portion. Do you follow so far? So I think the combination of all of you together, and if you work it out slowly, gives you something of more substance. Even if it is a beautiful thought, unless you can use it in a practical way, then something is wrong. Right? Then it is a nice poetic thought, but it does not mean anything. Now let us make it mean something. Okay?
So we are following so far, yes? The main part in the portion is about what? The middle section of the portion is about the Kohanim. Clothes of the Kohanim, clothes of the High Priest, and their consecration and anointment as priests in the service of G-d. Now think about it. You are talking about a portion in which Moshe’s name is not mentioned and yet at the same time you are talking about the portion of Kohanim. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about it? Aharon is a Kohen. And? Moshe is not a Kohen. What comes to mind when you say Aharon is a Kohen and Moshe is not a Kohen? A verse that we learned in Shemot. Who originally was supposed to be the Kohen? Moshe was originally supposed to be the Kohen and he forfeited the opportunity to be the Kohen when he refused to be the spokesman, what you are talking about before. When he refused to be the spokesman, that is where – here it is so interesting. He says keep me out of the Book, meaning I do not want to be spokesman. Here the emphasis of the Book is on the Kohanim. Right? And his name is not mentioned.
There does seem to be a parallel. So let us figure this out in our minds. It is an incredibly powerful idea and it is very important in the service of G-d and it is important in understanding Torah and all of Moshe’s Torah. Much more then just saying Moshe is higher, I do not know what that means, you know? Audience: “When G-d says okay fine. You know I am going to erase you. When you want to be erased, I do not care.” Right, yes, let me show you where it is so you can see it in the verse itself. You mean when Hashem made Aharon the Kohen instead of Moshe? If I can find it. END SIDE 1
And you know what is so interesting when you think about it is that one of the key themes that Moshe keeps on harping on in his relationship with G-d is names. The first thing he says to G-d is well what name should I say, what is your name that I should tell the Jewish people? Which name and the G-d gives him names. Names play a major role in the relationship between the two of them. It is interesting that Moshe’s name is not really his name; it is his Egyptian name. His real name is Tuviah. Audience: “When did he get that?” When he was born. He was born in a Jewish home, with a Jewish name. Moshe is an Egyptian adopted name. Audience: “Moses is an Egyptian name?” Yes. I mean there is a Seftei Chachamim that says that it is a Hebrew name. Audience: “What does the name Tuviah mean?” It is a medrish. Audience: “But we do not believe in it.” We do not? I do. You may not, I do. Audience: “It is not meant to be taken literally.” Stories are not to be taken literally, but facts are. Audience: “What does Tuviah mean in Hebrew?” Goodness of G-d. Audience: “You tell a story if a story is made up of fact.” No, try and draw a distinction in your own mind. In other words if it tells a story, I am not necessarily not going to believe it. if it tells a story that stretches my imagination a little too much, you know what I mean?
You know that Moshe’s name is erased a few times in the Bible, or hidden. Do you know that? Oh well. There is supposed to be a chalkboard in here. Page three thirty-seven, exodus four, verse fourteen. V’yeechar af Hashem B’Moshe, and G-d was angry with Moshe, V’Yomer, and he said, Ha’loh Aharon Acheecha haLevi, Aharon your brother the Levi. Why does he say the Levi? So from here we learn that G-d was telling Moshe originally Aharon was supposed to be the Levi and you were supposed to be the Kohen. But now because you have been so adamant in refusing to serve the way I have asked you to serve, he will be the Kohen and you will be the Levi. That is the basis of it. You know, Lisa, that of course names play a major role because the name of the whole Book is Shemot, which means names. Names are fundamental to the whole Book, because it is really a process of identity. So now let us go back. Let us just see what we have so far. So you have the way we are going to combine Debbie with Lisa and Joan and Richard, okay? And what you will have is like this: that Moshe began his life simply as a spokesman. A reluctant, hesitant spokesman, but basically as a spokesman and that may very well be as he saw himself. And so he is saying, I do not want to be your spokesman anymore if you are going to wipe these people out, because I choose. What is he saying if you are going to wipe them out, then erase my name? Who is he saying he represents, G-d or the people? The people. It is incredible.
So G-d says okay. I will erase your name, but your presence will be there. So fact number one: that your presence will be there even though your name is not is that you are not simply a spokesman, Moshe. You are very much an, or the embodiment of Torah. That your personality, right, is everywhere– pervades the whole essence of the Torah. That is number one. But what else is he saying? By keeping Moshe’s presence in there, without even using Moshe’s name, so Moshe’s claim was I represent the people. G-d by saying no your presence remains in the Torah no matter what, is saying you represent me. Now let us go and this is all in the context of kehunah. Who do the Kohanim serve? Do the Kohanim serve us as our emissaries to G-d, really the ones who are able to help us and assist us along in our relationship to G-d, or are the Kohanim the servants of G-d? Now who actually symbolizes this point? Moshe. So at the same time you find that Moshe discovers this about himself, you have the introduction of the role of the Kohanim, or the first introduction to the Kohanim—their inauguration and consecration at the same time. There is a parallel to it. So it is certainly an interesting idea about what the function of a Kohen is. It also means that any time that someone represents Torah, when someone is a spokesman for Torah, they are not simply a spokesman for Torah. Meaning listen to the words without me. You know here the words that I am saying but do not look at me. it is supposed to be that anyone who is teaching Torah is really supposed to represent the Torah that he or she is teaching.
Audience: “I think you are making your point.” That is not unusual. Audience: “So what you are saying here is the content here, regardless of if it is Moshe or not.” No, but because what pervades the whole portion is that Moshe is a necessary ingredient to everything that is happening in the Torah, because G-d saying bring the oil to you, bring the Kohanim to you. You cannot escape Moshe’s presence, even though his name is not being mentioned. Audience: “Is this in any way related to the fact that G-d’s name is not mentioned in the Megillah?” I do not know. I would have to think about it. I am sure you could find a connection between the two, and I know that there are those who do, but I have never heard anything compelling. Audience: “Do you not say that Esther finishes what Moshe started?” Yes. I am not saying you are wrong, I just do not hear anything compelling between the connection between the two. Do you know what I mean? In other words it is certainly something I would mull over. Audience: “But did not Moshe had started representation but every time he spoke he represents the people and representing you, because–” No, not every time– in the beginning. I think we went through this once, no only in the beginning. In the beginning when he went to Pharaoh the question was: was he representing the Jews or was he representing G-d? Eventually he came to represent G-d, then he came to represent Moshe alone, which is why in the final plague you see that is purely a confrontation between Moshe and Pharaoh and not Pharaoh and G-d. It is as if G-d is left out of the picture. V’haEesh Moshe Gadol Meod Bei’nai Pharoah Bei’nai Avodav, and the man Moshe, it stresses, was very great in the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of Pharaoh’s servants.
But remember what is really interesting about this is, depending on the context in which you put it, if we follow Rashi that this is not written in historical order, that would mean that this portion was written after the golden calf. Correct? Who were the Jews attempting to replace with the golden calf? Moshe. So it is just interesting that one of the final things that they would hear before the disappearance of Moshe is Moshe disappearing to a certain degree, which would almost feed their fears that perhaps Moshe is disappearing. If you take Rashi’s approach, which is that this was actually given after the sin of the golden calf, it could be a response to the dangers of having a Moshe as a spokesman per say, instead of a Moshe really being an active participant in the formulation of Torah. Meaning you cannot have Torah without Moshe. The Jewish people would not have continued, had Moshe remained up there on Sinai.
Audience: “Why would he say that, Rashi, that the order is different?” So I explained this one Shabbat afternoon, I gave a shiur on it. There are two possible reasons. One explanation is that he is convinced that had the Jews been given the mitzvah of the mishkan before the sin of the golden calf, they would have forfeited the mitzvah of the mishkan by virtue of the sin of the golden calf. The other is that the mishkan was seen really as a concession. The mitzvah of the mishkan was seen as a concession to people who had a very physical need. Just as the Kuzari explains this, I was not given a chance Tuesday night because people would not let me finish my sentence. But just as a shul, the whole idea of having a Beit Knesset, is considered a concession for people who need it. And its essence is bad. Audience: “But if you can do that with these portions, you could do that with any of them. Any time you come up with something that you cannot quite explain without reading ahead, why can you not just say well it really happened the other way around?” So then you would have to have a basis for it in other verses. Right? So one of Rashi’s basis is that you have five portions that describe the mitzvah and the story of the golden calf is smack in the middle of the five portions. And the first two portions, Moshe would not have had a chance to teach them because he went up to Sinai at the end of Mishpatim. So it really would not be logical for it to be written there until he came down with the first tablets anyway.
Audience: “Why did they write it down?” So there are all sorts of reasons for that. The most common answer that is given, and it is a lot deeper than the way people take it, and this is tied in with Megilat Esther, is that the cure is always listed in the Torah before the makah and that the mishkan, at least in the way Rashi understands it, is a response to the limited needs expressed by the construction of the golden calf. Yes? Audience: “What did Moshe ? coming up with the proposition– was not there a story of a woman, you know when” The daughters of Tzilufchad. Audience: “I did not know their names, okay so you know Moshe what shall we do and he had to go and ask G-d, to what extent he has his own–” I think it is just beginning to develop here, because this is the first time that you are having an idea of service, and official roles and already the minute that you begin to separate some people from others in serving G-d. You are going to have a major question and the major question will be do you serve us the people or do you serve G-d? If you serve G-d, then why did G-d choose you? And really the whole issue has to be dealt with in a very sensitive manner. And if you read through this portion carefully, you will see that that is what G-d is doing. The presentation of the separation of the Kohanim and the manufacture of their clothes and anointment and their inauguration is actually a way of G-d holding the hands of the Jews as G-d introduces the concept of there being a separate group of people and that these separate group of people are going to serve blank, whether it is G-d or you.
And I am not saying because I prefer that you look through the portion yourself and find it. But again you see just by reading one or two verses in the portion, you really get a key that opens up the whole portion. Right? Audience: “Does that mean they are closer to G-d or just serving?” Read through the portion. You have to read it like this: you have to read it verse by verse and imagine G-d sitting down and saying okay what am I saying to you. And the example that I always give is if someone ever wrote you a love letter, that you just do not read the letter once. You read it over and over again and what was said and what was not said and you pay attention to the nuances and the handwriting and that is really what you are supposed to do when you read through the parsha too. And if you learn to do it like this then you can learn to do it with mitzvoth. That is really the objective: to learn how to carry on a conversation with G-d.