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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 1
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

An explanation of the Baal HaTurim's teaching as to why Moshe's name is not mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh; whether the parshiyos Terumah and Tetzaveh date from before the sin of the Golden Calf or afterwards

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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No. 57

B"H, Monday, Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5703
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letter and your statements with regard to the fact that the name of Moshe our teacher is not mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh:. In addition to the answer which was printed,[1] I would like to dwell on the matter in its totality and in doing so, resolve the questions raised with regard to the commentary of the Baal HaTurim and the other points you mentioned in your letter.

This is the wording of the Baal HaTurim in the beginning of Parshas Tetzaveh:

Moshe's name is not mentioned in this Torah reading. In contrast, in the entire Chumash from the time of Moshe's birth, there is no Torah reading in which his name is not mentioned. The reason for [its omission] is because [Moshe said:][2] "Wipe me out of Your book which You wrote." And a curse issued by a wise man, even when issued conditionally, has an effect.

Questions have been raised on the Baal HaTurim's statements, for in the readings of Eikev, Re'eh, and Shoftim - and it might be added - in Ki Seitzei and Nitzavim - Moshe's name is not mentioned. It is possible to explain that since the Book of Devarim begins: "These are the words which Moshe spoke," it refers to the entire book. See Rashi's commentary to Megillah 31a, entry Moshe:

In Toras Kohanim (Vayikra), the Torah states: "And I will give,"[3] I will appoint,"[4] and "I will send,"[5] referring to [G-d,] the One who has the potential to do so. In Mishneh Torah (Devarim), by contrast, it is written:[6] "And G-d will strike."

Similarly, at the beginning of his commentary to the Torah, the Ramban writes:

Moshe our teacher wrote ... [the Torah] in the third person.... For that reason, Moshe's name was not mentioned in the Torah until he was born... A question should not be raised with regard to Mishneh Torah, for that book begins: "These are the words which Moshe spoke,"... i.e., quoting [Moshe's] statements in the name of their author."

See also the maamar entitled Assur LiAdam SheYitom, sec. 2, and the conclusion of Parshas Vaes'chanan in Likkutei Torah.

The question raised by the Baal HaTurim can be amplified. For the expression, "wipe out," is applicable with regard to something which has already been written (and thus already exists), as we find the distinction in the wording of the verse:[7] "May they be blotted out...; do not let them be inscribed...." See also Rosh HaShanah 16b.[8] Moreover, we see that [not only must an object exist,] the manner in which it exists is also significant. Thus we find the ruling (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Shabbos 11:15) that a person is not liable for wiping out writing unless the writing was written in a manner which would allow it to be perpetuated on an object that itself will continue to exist. A slight difficulty, however, can be raised based on the ruling (ibid.:[9]) that a person is liable for erasing one large letter with the intent of writing two.9

It can, however, be explained that in the spiritual realms, potential does not lack actual fulfillment.[10] Thus one can say that wiping out - when performed by G-d - is relevant even with regard to a subject which was not yet written, but should be written.

From the resolution offered, we can appreciate the question: that it applies only to those parshiyos where seemingly Moshe's name should have been mentioned (although the wording of the Baal HaTurim is slightly difficult). For this reason, there is no question with regard to the Book of Bereishis, and similarly, there is no question with regard to the other Torah readings - aside for the reason given above. For there is no necessity that Moshe's name be mentioned [in them]. In Parshas Tetzaveh, by contrast, [his name seemingly should have been mentioned]. The beginning of the reading comes as a continuation of the expression: "And G-d spoke to Moshe" in Parshas Terumah, [the previous Torah reading]. Nevertheless, the latter portion, beginning from "And you shall make an altar for burning spices...."[11] represents a new subject. For at the outset, the Torah describes the utensils of the Sanctuary and the priestly garments. All of these were completed by Kislev 25 or Rosh Chodesh Adar (see Midrash Tanchuma, the conclusion of Parshas Pekudei and Yalkut Shimoni, I Melachaim, ch. 6). Afterwards comes the passage which describes the installation [of Aaron and his sons in the priesthood] which concerns the conclusion of the month of Adar.[12] And then comes this passage where the Torah returns and issues commands concerning the fashioning of the incense altar, [an object] which was made at the same time as the other utensils in the Sanctuary. Therefore it would seem appropriate that [to introduce this command], G-d should address Moshe with a new utterance.

The difference between a new utterance and the continuation of the previous one, although there is an interruption between the two portions, is that a new utterance is preceded by [G-d] calling [to Moshe] as stated in the Sifra at the beginning of Parshas Vayikra. (For we can assume that even with regard to G-d's utterances that were given before the Tent of Meeting was erected, [G-d] called [to Moshe] before speaking to him). To cite a parallel, Shmos 33:19-21 mentions "And G-d said to Moshe" three times, because the verse involves three separate subjects.

[Since it would seem to have been appropriate for it to have been mentioned that G-d called to Moshe in Parshas Tetzaveh, the Baal HaTurim mentions this point and] answers that [Moshe's name] was omitted in fulfillment of his request: "Wipe me out...." For this reason, it was not mentioned that G-d spoke to Moshe, or perhaps He did not speak to him. More clarification is, however, necessary.

There are opinions who explain that Parshas Tetzaveh was communicated before the sin of the Golden Calf (Zohar, Vol. II, p. 195a. From the commentary of the Ramban and the Ibn Ezra at the beginning of Parshas Terumah, it appears that they share this view). Thus we are speaking about "wiping out" something which exists. [According to the opinions] (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Terumah, sec. 8, Rashi, Shmos 31:18) which state that Parshas Tetzaveh was communicated after the sin, we are forced to say that we are speaking about wiping out a subject which should have been written, although it is not written yet....

The explanation that Moshe's request "Wipe me out" was fulfilled with regard to Parshas Tetzaveh because 7 Adar, [Moshe's (birthday and) yahrzeit,] always falls in that week as you stated in your letter is not appropriate. For this is not the fact; indeed, this year this is not the case. It is possible to say that most frequently, that date falls in the week of that Torah reading. Also, it is possible to say that [the request was fulfilled in this reading,] because at the very outset, allusion is made to Moshe [- "And you shall command"]. Thus this demonstrates that his name is omitted, only because [of his request].

With the blessing "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,"



  1. (Back to text) [It is not certain where the Rebbe's answer was printed. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vols. XVI, p. 342; XXI, p. 173, where this subject is discussed.]

  2. (Back to text) [Shmos 32:32.]

  3. (Back to text) [Vayikra 26:19, et al.]

  4. (Back to text) [Ibid.:16.]

  5. (Back to text) [Ibid.:25.]

  6. (Back to text) [Devarim 28:22, et al.]

  7. (Back to text) [Tehillim 69:22.]

  8. (Back to text) [That passage discusses the verses cited with regard to the judgment on Rosh HaShanah.]

  9. (Back to text) [The actual wording in the Rambam is slightly different.]

  10. (Back to text) [See Pardes, Shaar 11 ch. 3; Hemshech 5666, p. 5ff., p. 139ff.]

  11. (Back to text) [Shmos 30:1.]

  12. (Back to text) [I.e., the 25th of Adar when this service began.]

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