"And you will command the Israelites" (Ex 27:20)

Beginning with the parasha in which he is born (Shemot), through the end of the book of Numbers, Moses' name appears in every parasha -- except for this one, Tetzaveh. One explanation of this absence is that this is how G‑d fulfilled Moses' request following the sin of the Golden Calf, when G‑d threatened to destroy the Jews: "If You will forgive their sin, well and good. But if not, erase me from Your book that You wrote." Although G‑d did forgive the people, Moses' proposition had to be fulfilled in some form. Hence, G‑d "erased" Moses' name from this parasha.

This explanation, however does not address why it is this parasha in which Moses' name is absent. A deeper explanation, therefore, is that the absence of Moses' name from this parasha indicates that the objectives expressed in this parasha can only be achieved by his essence, the aspect of him that cannot be described by a name.

True, from the Torah's perspective, the name of a person or thing is not an arbitrary convention. An entity's "name in Hebrew is a vessel for the Divine life force condensed into the letters of that name, which has descended from the ten Divine utterances of creation recorded in the Torah that in turn have the power and vitality to create this entity ex nihilo and give it life forever". (Tanya) Thus, an entity's true name expresses the Divine life force that defines and enlivens it, and therefore expresses all its properties and characteristics, as well.

Nonetheless, the true essence of a person or thing cannot be captured in its name, since a name is only a reflection of how this abstract essence is projected into the world. Just as a person alone on a desert island has no need for a name, so, too, a name expresses only the aspect of the whole that is perceptible and identifiable by others. In contrast, the pronouns "you" or "I," just because they are nondescript, address the essence of the person. So, by addressing Moses as "you" immediately at the beginning of this week's parasha (and numerous times throughout it), the Torah indicates that the content of this parasha -- the office of the priesthood — is uniquely dependent on his essence, as will be seen throughout the parasha.

This explanation also explains the deeper meaning of Moses' words "erase me from Your book." By asking that his name be removed from the Torah, Moses wished to invoke the essential bond between himself and his people — and thereby the essential bond between G‑d and His people — which transcends the Torah and the Jews' fulfillment of it. Invoking this bond would allow for the atonement of the people's sin and ultimately bring them back to the Torah.

Based on Likutei Sichot, vol. 21, pp. 173-177.

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