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In The Garden Of The Torah
Insights of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita
on the weekly Torah Readings

Tetzaveh - 5754

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Publisher's Foreword

The essay to follow focuses on the subject of leadership.

It highlights the extent of the commitment which a leader must make to his people, pointing to the unique potentials he possesses, and charting the type of activities necessary for his efforts to be successful.

It must be emphasized that for the Rebbe Shlita, these are not merely theoretical concepts. Instead, they are potent principles, expressed in life as clearly and emphatically as in thought.

May our study of the Rebbe Shlita's teachings generate divine blessings that enable him to show their application in complete and perfect health. May he be granted a speedy recovery and may he lead the entire Jewish people to the Redemption in the most immediate future.

2 Adar, 5754

A Paradigm Of Leadership

A Leader's Commitment

Leadership involves self-sacrifice.

Everyone understands that to receive you have to give, but true leadership is above this type of barter.

A genuine leader rises above self-concern entirely.

He identifies totally with his people and their purpose and is willing to give up everything he has for them.

Moshe Rabbeinu epitomized this type of leadership.

When G-d told him that He would destroy the Jewish people because of the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe responded: [1] "If You would, forgive their sin. And if not, please obliterate me from the book You have written."

By making this statement, Moshe offered to sacrifice more than his life; he was also giving up everything that he stood for.

"The book You have written" refers to "the entire Torah." [2]

Moshe was identified with Torah. [3]

"He dedicated his soul for it." [4]

Nevertheless, he was willing to sacrifice his connection with the Torah for the Jewish people.


Because Moshe is one with the Jewish people.

"Moshe is Israel, and Israel is Moshe." [5]

However deep his connection was with the Torah, Moshe's connection with the Jewish people was deeper, touching the very essence of his being. [6]

This bond connects Moshe to every single Jew, regardless of his level of divine service. [7]

For whom was Moshe willing to sacrifice everything?

For the Jews who had worshipped the Golden Calf.

Regardless of what they had done, Moshe's commitment to them remained unchanged.

Since the connection he shared with them stemmed from the essence of his being - and touched the essence of their being, their conduct, however far removed from the spirit of Moshe's teachings, could not sever the bond between them.

Three Prototypes of Righteous Conduct

Our Sages compare three righteous men: [8]

Noach Avraham Moshe

Noach was himself totally righteous, but he showed little concern for the people around him.

He spent 120 years building the ark to arouse the people's curiosity, and would tell them of the need to repent if they asked. [9]

But nothing more.

He did not seek to influence his neighbors to change their conduct, nor did he pray to G-d to avert the coming of the flood. [10]

Avraham, by contrast, sought to improve the people among whom he lived.

On the verse, [11] "He proclaimed there the name of G-d, eternal L-rd," our Sages comment, [12] "Do not read vayikra - 'he proclaimed,' but vayakri - 'he made others proclaim.'

"Avraham would publicize G-d's presence and motivate others to call on Him. Moreover, when G-d told Avraham that He was going to destroy the city of Sodom, Avraham prayed for the people, challenging G-d: [13] "Will You wipe out the righteous and the wicked? ... It would be sacrilege for You ... to kill the righteous with the wicked ... Shall not the whole world's Judge act justly?"

Moshe, however, showed a more encompassing commitment.

Avraham's prayer was for "the righteous."

Moshe, by contrast, prayed for the Jews who had worshipped the Golden Calf.

As leader of his people, his commitment extended to every Jew, even those whose conduct stood in direct opposition to his own values.

It was for the sake of these people, Moshe told G-d: "If not, please obliterate me from the book."

Deeper than a Name

Our Sages state: [14] "A curse given by a wise man, even when conditional, becomes manifest."

On that basis, our Rabbis explain [15] that even though G-d accepted Moshe's prayer for the Jews, the malediction he pronounced on himself had an effect.

Moshe's name is mentioned in every Torah reading from Parshas Shmos which describes his birth, until the book of Deuteronomy, which conveys his farewell addresses with one exception: Parshas Tetzaveh.

In this reading, Moshe's name was - in keeping with his request - stricken out.

This does not, however, mean that Moshe is not associated with Parshas Tetzaveh.

On the contrary, a name reflects merely the dimension of a person which relates to others.

The essence of a person's being, who he really is, is above his name.

Parshas Tetzaveh does not mention Moshe's name, for it communicates the aspect of his being which cannot be expressed in a name.

Moshe's self-sacrifice for the Jewish people stemmed from the essence of his being.

It is this fundamental dimension which Parshas Tetzaveh brings to our attention.

Interrelated Bonds

These concepts are reflected in the opening phrase of the Torah reading: [16] VeAtah tetzaveh es bnai Yisrael, "And you shall command the children of Israel."

Tetzaveh translated as "command" relates to the word tzavsa which means "connection."

The verse is a charge for "you," the very essence of Moshe, [17] to connect with every Jew.

The connection initiated by Moshe also has a bonding effect within the Jews themselves, making them - even those on the lowest levels, those for whom Moshe prayed, "If not, obliterate me..." - one entity.

Simultaneously, the connection with Moshe binds and connects the Jewish people with the Or Ein Sof, G-d's infinite light. [18]

Moshe serves as a "shepherd of faith," [19] sustaining and nurturing the Jewish people's faith in G-d by prompting the expression of the essential bond they share with Him. [20]

The two interpretations of the bonds evoked by Moshe are interrelated.

By revealing the essential G-dly potential every Jew possesses, Moshe establishes bonds of connection among the Jewish people themselves.

For this G-dly potential exists within every member of our people without exception.

And it is through highlighting this shared spiritual resource that true unity can be established. [21]

So that an Eternal Light Will Shine

The above concepts relate not only to the name, but also to the content of the Torah reading.

Although the Torah reading focuses on the priesthood and Aharon's service, Moshe's influence was necessary to lift Aharon's service to a level to which it could not reach on its own.

This is reflected in the continuation of the charge to Moshe, [22] "And they shall bring you clear olive oil, crushed for the lamp."

One might ask: why should the oil be brought to Moshe? It was Aharon who kindled the menorah.

The answer is found in the continuation of the verse, "to raise an eternal light."

Aharon has the potential to spark the divine service of the Jews and inspire them with light and warmth, but for the flame to burn as "an eternal light," "from evening until morning," [23] Moshe's influence is necessary.

For it is Moshe who enables every Jew to tap his innermost spiritual resources and maintain a constant commitment.

For similar reasons, the investiture of Aharon and his sons in the priesthood was performed by Moshe. For the seven days of the initiation of the altar, Moshe served as a priest. His service enhanced Aharon's subsequent efforts, contributing a deeper dimension of connection to G-d. [24]

The Agent of Redemption

With regard to Moshe, our Sages state: [25] "He is the first redeemer, and he will be the ultimate redeemer."

The natural result of the arousal of the essential connection to G-d and the unity among mankind introduced by Moshe is the Redemption.

In this vein, our Sages explain [26] that the redemption from Egypt had the potential to be the ultimate redemption.

Had the Jews' sins not prevented Moshe from leading the people into Eretz Yisrael, there never would have been another exile. [27]

Similarly, in subsequent generations, it is the "extensions of Moshe Rabbeinu" [7] who infuse the yearning for redemption among our people, uniting them in the desire for Mashiach's coming.

These efforts serve as an "eternal light," pointing our people and mankind as a whole to its ultimate goal.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 173ff,
Vol. XVI p. 204ff; Vol. XV, p. 34ff;
Sefer Maamarim Melukat, Vol. VI, p. 129ff



  1. (Back to text) Exodus 32:32.

  2. (Back to text) Rashi on the above verse, Shmos Rabbah 47:9.

  3. (Back to text) C.f. Malachi 3:22.

  4. (Back to text) Mechilta commenting on Exodus 15:1; Shmos Rabbah 30:4.

  5. (Back to text) Rashi, Numbers 21:21.

  6. (Back to text) This approach has its source in a more encompassing motif.

    Our Sages state (Rus Rabbah 1:4, Tana d'Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, ch. 14): "The righteous resemble their Creator."

    G-d invests Himself in the Torah [and thus the word Anochi, the first word of the Ten Commandments, serves as an acronym for the

    Aramaic phrase Ana Nafshis Kesavis Yehavis, "I wrote down and gave over Myself" (Shabbos 105a)]. And yet, G-d's bond with the Jewish people is deeper.

    The Jews are G-d's children (Deuteronomy 14: 1), His firstborn (Exodus 4:22) as it were. Thus "Israel comes before the Torah" (Bereishis Rabbah 1:4, Tana d'Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, ch. 14).

    For this reason, even when the Jewish people sin, G-d is willing to bypass their transgressions, and accept their teshuvah.

    See also Timeless Patterns in Time (Kehot, N.Y., 1993), Vol. I, p. 49ff).

  7. (Back to text) Although Moshe - and his spiritual heirs, "the extensions of Moshe" who lead the Jews in every generation - share a bond with every Jew, there is nevertheless, a special degree of closeness and care reserved for those who make efforts to nurture this connection.

  8. (Back to text) Zohar I, 67b; See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 40 and sources cited there.

  9. (Back to text) Aggadas Bereishis 1:2.

  10. (Back to text) And therefore, the flood is referred to as "the waters of Noach" (Isaiah 54:9), indicting him for his failure to influence the people of his age.

  11. (Back to text) Genesis 13:4.

  12. (Back to text) Sotah 10b.

  13. (Back to text) Genesis 18:23-25.

  14. (Back to text) Makkos 11a.

  15. (Back to text) Baal HaTurim on the opening verse of Parshas Tetzaveh; Zohar Chodash, Shir HaShirim; Rabbeinu Bechaye on Exodus 32:32; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 674ff.

  16. (Back to text) Exodus 27:20.

  17. (Back to text) Kli Yakar on the above verse.

    The word tetzaveh itself alludes to Moshe's essence which is above his name. Tetzaveh is numerically equivalent to 501.

    With regard to the number 500, our Sages state (Koheles Rabbah, ch. 7, 1:2): "[G-d] traveled a distance of 500 years to acquire a name." Thus 501 refers to the essence which transcends the name.

  18. (Back to text) This concept is explained in the maamar, VeAtah Tetzaveh, 5679 (Sefer Maamarim, 5679, p. 254) and in other sources.

    The Previous Rebbe's maamar, VeKibeil HaYehudim, 5687 (ch. 4), mentions a similar, but not identical concept, that Moshe connects with the Jewish people. In that maamar, the Previous Rebbe does not, however, mention that Moshe connects the Jews with the Or Ein Sof.

  19. (Back to text) [We find the Hebrew original of this term Ro-eh Ne-eman in the Pesichta to Eichah Rabbah, sec. 24. The Aramaic version of the term, also alluding to Moshe Rabbeinu, serves as the title of one of the component parts of the Zohar. See also Torah Or, Ki Sissa 111a.]

  20. (Back to text) In the Previous Rebbe's maamar, VeKibeil HaYehudim, 5687, the emphasis on Moshe's efforts as a "shepherd of faith" is on his infusing the Jewish people with knowledge that allows them to bridge the dichotomy between the essential G-dly potential and their conscious thought processes.

    This activity, however, is possible only because Moshe sparks the expression of the essence of the Jewish soul. When the essence of the soul has been stirred, its influence can be projected into one's conscious experience.

  21. (Back to text) See Tanya, ch. 32.

  22. (Back to text) Exodus, loc. cit.

  23. (Back to text) Ibid.:21.

  24. (Back to text) A connection to Moshe's service is also seen in another of the subjects mentioned in this Torah reading: the incense altar.

    Ketores Hebrew for "incense" shares the same root as ketar, Aramaic for "bond."

    The ketores offering was intended, in a way similar to Moshe's influence, to intensify the inner bond mankind, even the wicked (see Kerisos 6b), share with G-d.

  25. (Back to text) Shmos Rabbah 2:4; Zohar, Vol. I, p. 253a.

    See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 8ff.

  26. (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 230 and sources cited there.

  27. (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 346 and sources cited there.

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