Hidden But Present

From Parashas Shemos, when we learn about the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu, through Parashas Zos Habrachah at the very end of sefer Devarim, Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is mentioned numerous times in every parashah — with one notable exception: Parashas Tetzaveh.

The most frequently quoted explanation for this phenomenon is that of the Baal Haturim. Following the sin of the Egel — a sin that had occurred while he was in Heaven — Moshe Rabbeinu declared to Hashem, “And now, if You would but forgive their sin, but if not, erase me from the Your book…”

Since the words of a tzaddik come to pass even if they are based on a condition, Moshe Rabbeinu’s name does not appear in this week’s parashah.

This in turn leads to another question: Why davka in Parashas Tetzaveh is Moshe Rabbeinu’s name omitted, and not any other parashah?

One explanation, attributed to the Vilna Gaon, the Meor Einayim, and other tzaddikim, is that in the vast majority of years the 7th day of Adar — the yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu — falls out in Parashas Tetzaveh.

There is a discussion among the poskim over whether to observe the taanis Adar 7 in Adar I or Adar II. (Even until today Adar 7 is a fast day for the chevra kadisha and for others.)

Harav Pinchas of Koritz, zy”a, brings a proof from the fact that since Parashas Tetzaveh invariably falls out in Adar I, the taanis is to be observed in the first Adar. (The Magen Avraham, quoting earlier sources, states that although the year Moshe Rabbeinu was niftar was a regular year, the taanis should be observed Adar I.)

The Vilna Gaon adds a fascinating thought.

Among the many esoteric teachings about the alef-beis is the fact that each letter has its own numerical value, but is also written out as a word — which has the numerical value of all the letters that make up that word. For instance, the letter mem has the numerical value of 40. When it is written as a word, another mem is added, for a total of 80. The numerical value letter of the letter shin is 300, but when it is written out as a word, a yud and a nun are added, raising the numerical value to 360. When one writes out the letter hey, an alef is included, adding 1 to its gematria.

The added value is considered the “hidden” part of the letter.

When one adds together the “added” letters of the name Moshe — 40 for the mem, 60 for the shin, and 1 for the hey — one reaches the number 101.

Parashas Tetzaveh, the week of 7 Adar, has precisely 101 pesukim.

This signifies that only the physical aspects of Moshe Rabbeinu departed this world, but the “hidden” parts of his name — symbolizing his inner, spiritual greatness, the Torah that he taught Bnei Yisrael — will be with us forever.


The Divrei Shmuel of Slonim, zy”a, homiletically taught that the word tetzaveh is an acronym for tzakakas hadal takshiv v’soshia (not in order) — “the screams of the destitute You listen to and You save.”

Moshe Rabbeinu was the most humble among men. Yet when it came to tefillah, he did not allow his humility to dissuade him from pleading with the Ribbono shel Olam, and while beseeching on behalf of Klal Yisrael he even declared, “if You would but forgive their sin, but if not, erase me from Your book…”

The Torah teaches us “v’atah tetzaveh es Bnei Yisrael,” — that every Jew, regardless of how little he may think of his own level of spirituality, should never claim that since he is destitute of mitzvos that he should not pour out his heart to Hashem.

When the locomotive was invented, the Gedolim of that time derived from it a powerful lesson of mussar — every moment counts. One can make or miss a train by a single minute. When the telegram was invented, and senders were charged by the word, it taught us the value of every word.

When the telephone began to come into regular usage, the Chofetz Chaim said that the concept of being able to speak in one place and be heard far away helps us internalize the fact that when we daven in this world, our tefillos are heard in Shamayim.

Harav Elimelech Biderman adds that the prevalence of wireless phones adds another perspective: Even the tefillos of those who feel disconnected — and his thoughts roam freely in all directions — must realize that when he cries out to Hashem, his tefillos are heard and valued.

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