The Influence of Moses on Every Generation
Commenting on the verse that states, “Now you shall command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil of illumination” (Ex 27:20), both the Midrash and the Zohar (III:246b) note that the name of Moses is not mentioned in this week’s Parsha because of the fact that Moses told the Holy One, blessed be He, “If not, erase me now from Your book that You have written” (Ex 32:32).
How can one imagine that the name of the man who devoted himself body and soul to the Children of Israel, who begged the Eternal not to wipe them out, is not mentioned in a Parsha? One could say that the Children of Israel are greater in His eyes than Moses, but in reality it is quite the opposite, for one sees that the Eternal wanted to wipe them out: “And now, desist from Me. Let My anger flare up against them and I shall annihilate them, and I shall make you a great nation” (Ex 32:10). Nevertheless, this was not what Moses had in mind. Rather, he preferred that his name be erased, provided that the Children remain alive. Moses was an exemplary figure par excellence! Why then this anger of G-d against him?
In addition, why does this week’s Parsha begin precisely with the mitzvah of the oil rather than another mitzvah? What connection could there be between the olive oil and the fact that Moses’ name is not mentioned in the Parsha?
It is because, as we read, all the souls of Israel were connected to Moses (Zohar III:216b). In every Torah Sage there shines a spark of our teacher Moses, and very often one tells another, “You have answered well, Moses” (Shabbat 101b). Furthermore, Moses is equivalent to all the people of Israel (Zohar II:47a). Thus, even when the Children of Israel are seduced by the evil inclination and commit sins, they repent because of their connection to our teacher Moses, who tells them, “Whoever is for the L-RD, join me!” (Ex 32:26). Moses differentiates between those that don’t sin and are connected to his soul, and those who sin. The latter he reprimands in public, and so they confess their sin and attach themselves to his soul.
G-d told Moses: You know very well that the soul of the Children of Israel is connected to your own. How can I then erase you from the Book of Life? Who then will they attach themselves to? Erasing your name is the same as erasing the names of all the Children of Israel. It is in accordance with My will that you have access to the spiritual level of Vayikhu Eilecha (“that they take for you”). They are taken and attached to you. It is because of the mitzvah of the oil (SheMeN – pure olive oil) that their soul (NeShaMah) is connected to yours. How can I extinguish your light? I am resolute on keeping you alive in order to elevate the soul of the Children of Israel, which is connected to yours. Consequently, instead of asking Me to erase your name from My book, pray on their behalf. When they will have repented, they will then be able to link up with your soul and spiritually uplift themselves without cease.
Thus Moses is well and truly mentioned in this week’s Parsha.