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No Jew is Complete Unless all Jews are Complete

Thursday, 6 February, 2014 - 8:01 pm

This parsha is unique.  Since recording Moshe's birth until the last parsha of the Torah, every sedra mentions Moshe by name.  Except this week.  Except Tetzaveh.

We read (in next week's parsha) the unfortunate story of Jews abandoning their Redeemer for a calf of gold.  G-d is incensed, ready to destroy His People and guard His covenant through Moshe alone.  Moshe concedes that their sin was audacious, "Yet if you forgive their sin, it will be good, if not -- blot me out from Your Book which You have written."  Hashem pardons the people, and, of course, Moshe's name remains throughout the Torah.  So identified is G-d's Torah with this leader that until today it is known as Moshe's Torah -- Torat Moshe.  However, words of a Tzaddik are not treated lightly by G-d, and although Moshe's threat never needed to be carried out, it did to some extent, affect Torah.  One Parsha, it was decreed would remain without Moshe being mentioned.

Yet, the parsha opens "And you shall command the Jewish People,"  you obviously referring to Moshe, for even in the parsha where he remains nameless, we sense his connection.  It could even be said that his presence in this parsha is too profound to be referred to by a  name.  Names denote relationships;  an individual can be called Dad, Bernie, Dr. Weissberg, Doc, Son, Bernard F. Weissberg MD or Zaidie.  All these names reflect the relationship between the individual and those who call him.  You  is a different class of names.  It refers to a person without defining him.  It can reflect on how the individual stands outside the dynamics of superficial relationships.   It is the quintessential person, all by himself.   Absolute Moshe.

"And you shall command the Jewish People."  Command -- or the Hebrew original, mitzvah, reflects a connection between the one issuing the command and the one fulfilling it;  (in English the word "enjoin" means both to connect and to command).  Mitzvot, aside from being good deeds or commandments are our connection to the Creator. 

"And you shall command the Jewish People" can be understood as "And you -- in your truest essence -- shall connect the Jewish People."  Even stronger than a Tzaddik's connection to G-d's Torah is his connection to His people.

Who were these people that Moshe staked his reputation, no, his very being, on their inclusion?  They were the sinners of the worst kind.  Without them, though,  he could not survive.  He could not be Moshe, he could not be.

As a teacher, the lesson he gave us is that no Jew is complete unless all Jews are complete.  Staking everything we have on that somebody else's inclusion, is our responsibility.

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