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    Giving orders – T’tzavveh

    tetzavehThere are two strange features of the first verse of the sidra.

    Moses’ name is omitted and the verse merely says, “V’attah t’tzavveh – And you, command the Children of Israel”; and instead of being told, “Speak to” or “say to” the Children of Israel, he is told, “Command the Children of Israel'”.

    Is it fair that Moses should not be mentioned by name on the very Shabbat nearest to his Yahrzeit? Is that gratitude? After all he did and suffered for God, the Torah and Israel, why should his name be suppressed?

    There are many explanations. Some, noting that usually Moses is told “speak” or “say”, suggest that in his characteristic humility Moses might have said to God, “Who am I to ‘command’ the Children of Israel? I do not feel comfortable with giving orders!”

    God understands Moses’ view but knows there are times to speak softly and gently and times to be firm and to command and insist. Moses need not feel uncomfortable about being forceful; he is doing it on behalf of God, not on his own initiative.

    Hence the omission of his name is an implied rebuke, from which we can learn that whilst one should always follow the diplomatic way there are times that call for something much stronger if moral principle is to be maintained.

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