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Parshas Tetzaveh - Moshe’s Absence, Urim V’Tumic Operation Manual & 3 Keys

By Rabbi Yosef Tropper

Posted on 02/11/19

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1) Moshe’s Missing Name


There’s a very famous vort from the Gra about why Moshe is missing from the entire Parshas Tetzaveh. Moshe’s name is found in every other parsha from the time he’s born in Shemos until the end of the Torah. Why in Tetzaveh is the one place that he’s not found at all?


Moshe’s Death


Many mefarshim explain varied ideas. Vilna Gaon’s famous answer is that on zayin Adar which is the yartzeit and also the birthday of Moshe, usually falls out on the parsha of Tetzaveh. Thus, his absence is hinting to Moshe’s death at this time period.


2) 101 Verses


Vilna Gaon says another p’shat here. There are 101 pesukim in Parshas Tetzaveh. The siman at the end of the parsha is Michael, which is the same gematria as a 101. Gra states that the hidden gematria of the word Moshe is also 101. Meaning that the letters that spell Moshe are Mem, Shin, Heih. The actual letter mem is spelled Mem plus Mem. So, there’s a hidden forty from the additional mem. Shin is spelled: Shin, Yud, Nun.  So, the hidden parts of Yud and Nun are another sixty, now we have 100. The final letter of Heih is spelled Heih Alef. Thus showing that the hidden part of Moshe, equal to 101 is hinted to by the number of pesukim in the parsha.


Incidentally, mekubalim spell the word Heih in multiple different ways. Ramchal has different explanations as to, depending on which Sheim Hashem and depending on which things you’re using. Sometimes Heih is spelled Heih, Aleph, which is how it’s spelled here.  So, it’s a hundred and one hidden. Sometimes it’s spelled Heih and Yud and other times it’s Heih and Heih.


Samael Vs. Michael


Mefarshim, including Kli Yakar, explain that the gemara in Chagiga tells us, and Rabbi Akiva Eiger actually hints to this as well in the gemara there. “Eino domeh me she’shoneh pirko”, a person that reviews his studies a hundred times doesn’t compare to someone who reviews a hundred and one times, and the gemara gives a parable that if you rent something for a hundred miles (the gemara uses its own metric there) the cost is one set price, however, if you want to go 101 miles, then the price goes up significantly.


If you want to go far in life, then strive to review your learning 101 times. The gemara says it’s the difference between the “oveid Hashem”, who reviews 101 times versus the “lo oveid Hahsem” who only does 100 times! Rebbi Akiva Eiger there brings down the famous thing that Samech-Mem, the evil angel (who is really the malach hamaves and Saro Shel Eisev, according to the Zohar quoted by Yalkut Reuveini), has the gematria of 100. His name is Samach, Mem, Alef, Lamed.. He is called Samech mem for short and this is no coincidence, his name means: sam, poison. If you only study 100 times, you are so to speak in his grip and you will forget your learning. However, if you review 101 times then you elevate yourself to 101, which is the numerical value of Michael. He is the malach who protects torah learning. Michael, translates as, ‘who is like G-d?!’ This is the ultimate recognition that Torah study brings. Moshe is connect with this angel as well.


3) Hashem Pushed off “Erasing”


The entire above discussion probably ties into the other mefarshim that explain a seemingly unrelated explanation of why Moshe is omitted here.  Since Moshe said in the next parsha of Ki Sisa, “Micheini nah misifricha” they say a vort that Hashem didn’t want to erase Moshe, so He pushed him off until the last possible time, which would be the next year’s laining.  But, of course, this is a very strange p’shat because it hints to the idea that it would follow an order of how things were read, but we don’t know that it was read that way. This is difficult to understand.


Moshe’s Greatness


Perhaps we can begin to explain in the following manner. What’s interesting is that the “mecheini nah” represents Moshe’s demise, his death. Samech-Mem so to speak gets his power when we sin and when great talmidei chachomim leave this world. Chazal tell us that Moshe was buried kneged Baal Peor in order that he would hold in the power of Baal Peor and not allow it to hurt Klal Yisrael, and so what we have in front of us is Moshe’s lack of presence in this parsha and hinting to his death and hinting to the mecheini nah, and hinting to the idea that, nonetheless, even though he’s not here, he still has the hundred and one, Michael, hint that he is the great warrior of G-d.


Hagaddah Omission


There’s also another thing to keep in mind which is that Moshe, I’ve always thought that there’s some connection between Moshe’s name not being in the haggadah as well.  And, once again, it’s “ani v’lo malach, ani v’lo saraf”. Hashem is the only one that’s redeeming the Jewish people, and so too in Tetzaveh there’s significance to this as well which needs to be explained, but not for now.


4) Honor to Aharon


Rav Tzadok has a p’shat, based on other mefarshim, that this parsha of Tetzaveh is the bigdei kehunah and it’s all about Aharon HaCohen. In order to give kavod to Aharon, it only mentions Aharon. These are his begadim, these are the things that he accomplished in life.  With his oheiv shalom and rodeif shalom and that’s why this is specifically a parsha where Moshe’s name is absent.


I add to this that Chazal say the verse of (Tehillim) ‘henia mah tov u’mah naim, sheves achim gam yachad’ refers to the great brothers, Moshe and Aharon who were united in their dedication to Klal Yisrael. What is also important is that even people who are so intimately close, each need their own space to be individuals as well. Perhaps this is part of why Aharon has his own parsha here.


5) Urim v’Tumim Process


In our parsha (Shemos 28:29) we have the Urim v’Tumim which we know many great people ask questions to the Urim v’Tumim to get answers, and there’s many, many fascinating p’shatim as to what the Urim v’Tumim would answer and what it would mean. One of the things that’s most fascinating is that the Urim v’Tumim is something that had to be interpreted, and, in fact, that’s what it’s name means. It’s a double process of seeing what it is saying in letters and then knowing how to interpret that message. The Kohen Gadol had to be a big tzaddik to be able to do that.  


Eilie Read “Shikorah”


Vilna Gaon asks what exactly happened in the beginning of Shmuel when we know that Eilie Hacohen used the Urim v’Tumim. There’s a wide discussion in itself whether a cohen gadol is allowed to use it for personal use. Obviously, in that case he was permitted, for whatever reason. Eilie asks and comes us with a word, he thinks that Chnnah, who in truth is silently davening, but, he thinks that she’s drunk. “Vayachshiveihah Eilie l’shikorah,” (Samuel I, 1:13)


She replies: “Lo adoni”, and the gemara darshens that: No, you’re mistaken, and when accused falsely, there’s a mitzvah to defend yourself. The commentators say that Eilie mis-jumbled the letters. Really there was another message here. They say it’s not “shikorah”, it’s “kesheirah.” I’m kasher. You’re misreading the words.


Gra says that the p’shat is that he thought that it said ‘shikorah’, that she was drink, but really it was saying “k’Sarah”.  That she was davening just like Sarah.  And, that was what was going on over here. I am just like Sarah.  I’m davening to have children.


Pilegesh b’Givaah Mistake


Another example, at the end of sefer Shoftim it talks about Pilegesh b’givaah and the Jewish response and they asked the Urim v’Tumim, they didn’t ask the Urim v’Tumim if they should fight it, and this is where they went wrong because they wiped out the entire sheivet Binyamim and terrible time for Klal Yisrael just because of lack of leadership and because of people that just jumped the gun, which, again, the mefarshim have all different p’shatim about what went wrong there.


One of the explanations there is that they asked the Urim v’TUmim and it told them to go up and the Jews went and they fought Binyamim and they were wiped out.  They were destroyed until, finally, eventually, they started realizing that they had done something wrong and they did teshuva and then they were able to subdue Binyamin and almost destroy them minus, six hundred people that were left of BInyamim. They almost killed out the whole sheivet.  But, the question is: The Urim v’Tumim told them to go. The answer is it didn’t. They never asked them whether: G-d, is this the right thing.  Should we go fight our brothers because of the incident. They just asked: we are fighting.  So, who’s going up first.  And, the Urim v’Tumim answered, “Yehuda yaaleh.”  Yehuda should go up first.


6) True Message


There are other mefarshim that say: No, that not only did the Urim v’TUmim not say that you should fight. It actually was saying something else.  You, the leaders are declaring, we are going, who should go up first. Your mistake is not asking. But, here is the answer: Yehudah ya’aleh’ This means: Yehuda should fix himself up. It’s where all these terrible things had happened. There was avodah zarah there. Let him work on himself, and then you could go fight.  


We see that you need a tremendous amount of Siyata d’Shmaya in order to be able to use the Urim v’TUmim and even Eilie HaKohen and many great people have read it and didn’t interpret it properly. One needs Ruach Hakodesh to interpret it properly.  And, of course, there’s many instances where it was read properly and used properly.


Hear What You Want


You hear what you want to hear, and that bias needs to be dealt with. Many times in life we see this in others and ourselves. “Harotzeh l’tos.” Bias is based on your own ratzon, your own desires.  Sometimes we pick a landing spot where we expect things to be and then we paint the target around it, pretending that others justified and endorsed our actions.


Korach’s Bias


I heard an interesting thought about this. Chazal tell us that the man fell based on your status of tzidkus. If you were a tzaddik it would fall at your doorstep and if you were a beinoni it would fall further away, and if you were a rasha it would fall very far away.  So, what’s p’shat.  How could it be that in the midbar you have Korach.  Obviously, he was a rasha and his mann didn’t fall at his doorstep, so it fell very far away.  So, how in the world could Korach justify that.  DIdn’t he realize that he was doing something wrong?  And, what did his followers all think? 


I heard someone one time say a very smart and terrifying answer. Korach said: No, this is proof that I’m a tzaddik because Hashem even has taynas on me as to why didn’t I start arguing against Moshe until now! Therefore, I’m being punished, and you’ll see that once I fight against Moshe and put him in his place, then you’ll see that my mann will return. People listened to that, and people bought that because we can twist anything. We have to be so intellectually honest and make sure that we have a rebbe, like the gemara says about Shlomo HaMelech.  Make sure that we are accountable to people.  As long as his rebbe was in his city he didn’t sin.


7) Chosam - 3 Keys


The end of Parshas Tetzaveh (28:36) we find, “pituchei chosam kodesh laHashem.”  The Vilna Gaon says that this word “Pituchei Chosam, holy to G-d,” is a roshei teivos for three items listed in the Gemara (Taanis 2a). The Rebono Shel Olam has different keys that he gives to other people, but there are keys that he never gives away to anyone.  (1) “Mafteiach shel chayah”, that of birth because it says, “Vayiftach Hashem es rachmah.”  Hashem is the one that gives pregnancy and birth.  (2) “Mafteiach shel geshamim,” of rain because it says, “Yiftach Hashem licha es otzar hatov.” (3) “Mafteiach shel tichiyas hameisim,” resurrection of the dead because it says, “Pischi ani es kivroseichem.”  


Everything is hinted in the Torah, so where is the hint?  The hint is here because “chosam”, Hashem’s signet ring, His seal, is spelled: Ches, Suf, Mem, and that stands for chaya (birth) techiyas hameisim and matar (or mayim), rain These three keys are: Kodesh laHashem, exclusive to God and no one else will have them Gra once again shows us how “lecha midi lo ksiva b’Oraisa.” Vilna Gaon teaches us to appreciate every word of our beautiful and complete Torah!


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Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at ParshaThemes.com