Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Tetzaveh 5774

Reading Torah every week, we get very familiar with the main characters of the story. Throughout Sefer Shemot, the Book of Exodus, we’ve become especially attached to Moshe, whose name has been everywhere from the moment he was named. Lo and behold, this week, in Parshat Tetzaveh, we will not read his name once!

Actually, Moshe’s far from absent in this portion; God addresses him in the very first word: “V’atah tetzaveh et Bnei Yisrael–You, you instruct the Israelites…” (Exodus 27:20). In fact, the word v’atah–you–appears two more times in rather rapid succession:

“You shall bring forward your brother Aaron” (28:1);

“Next you shall instruct all who are skillful…to make Aaron;s vestments” (28:3).

So there’s plenty for Moshe to do, many instructions to give, in this parshah, even though he isn’t mentioned by name. But if we take a closer look at the instructions he’s to give, we’ll notice something fascinating. The three tasks about which he’s called to instruct are: bringing olive oil to set up the eternal light, serving as priests, and wearing priestly garments. 

What will Moshe have to do with these tasks once he’s given instructions? Nothing. So how do you think he felt about his marching orders here, and about being addressed as v’atah–you, unnamed “you?”

The real question here is about legacy. For whom do we toil, and will anyone remember our name? We’ll look at a variety of answers to these questions on Shabbat morning, 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, 

 

Rabbi David Wise