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Parshas T'Tzaveh - Did They Call My Name?    10 Adar 5780

03/06/20 00:19:28


From the day of a baby boy’s bris or a baby girl’s naming, a person hears his name anywhere from five hundred thousand to a million times over a seventy-year life span. Throughout our lives there are times we want to hear our name being called out and other times when we absolutely do not want to hear our name called. If we are in a contest that calls out names to advance to the next round, we would want to hear our name called. On the other hand, when I attend jury duty, I do not want to hear my name being called because that means I was selected for a jury pool and I would not be able to leave early.

There are situations when we are in doubt as to whether we heard our name or not. For example, background noise or static can make it difficult to discern whether our name was announced or not This may occur at an airport terminal, or during a raffle or an auction. Also, the reason why my name is being called will have a direct effect upon how clearly I am able to decipher if my name was announced or someone else with a similar-sounding name was being called. I always find it quite amusing how some people ask me if I am related to Bogomilsky, and I ask them why they think I am related to that family. ? They typically explain that the names are so close and sound familiar. I tell them the two closest possibilities that we are related is that we were all at Har Sinai and our names are consecutive in the Brooklyn phonebook, but other than that the names are NOT the same!

There is a certain sensitivity to our names because our names are our specific identity. The Gemara Brachos 7b explains that our name is our essence and an insight to our personalities and our future. If someone calls us by a name which we do not approve of or relate to, we are hurt. On the other hand, when we are called by a name which we relate to or approve o,f we are proud. Our surname, family name, or last name is the portion of a personal name that indicates a person's family. Depending on the culture, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames. A given name, on the other hand, is unique for that particular individual and a further clarification may include a second or middle name. In the Torah we find a few places where a person is called by his name and then repeated a second time. For example, when Hashem called out Avraham, Avraham. Avraham responded, “I am here.” Avraham appreciated the feeling of endearment by hearing his name twice. There are many different reactions a person must have hearing his or her name being called. The reaction to hearing or even not hearing your name hinges upon the circumstances surrounding the reason why your name may or may not be called. A powerful illustration of this was discussed by my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Wein of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah.

Rabbi Wein YB”L told about his experience walking around the children’s exhibit of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Years later, I had same experience when visiting Yad Vashem. An ongoing recording of the names of the one million children murdered by the Nazis, Yimach Shmom V’Zichram, is starkly heard by everyone entering the children’s exhibit. The voice recites the name of each child, the city where he or she came from, and the age of the child when he or she was killed. Rabbi Wein, who was just about the age of those children when he was growing up in Chicago, was waiting to hear his name being called, but it was not. Rabbi Wein found himself wondering why his name hadn’t been called. After all, he was the same age as many of the children whose names were being called out, albeit from cities and towns far away from the streets of Chicago’s West Side. Nevertheless, Rabbi Wein identified with those children. Perhaps he had survivors’ guilt, giving him the drive to make a difference in the world, to be a part of the rebuilding of the Jewish people. There were others in history who felt the same way when it came to cementing a place in history.

From parshas Shmos until the last portion of the Torah V’Zos HaBracha, Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is mentioned in every Parsha except for this week’s Parshas T’Tzaveh. Many are familiar with the reason why Moshe’s name is omitted this week. The remez, hint, is due to the fact this Parsha always coincides with the 7th of Adar which is the day of Moshe’s death. To symbolically recognize his absence from the world his name is left out this week. This only answers the fact of why it would be this week, if his name should be deleted at all? Did Moshe deserve to have his name to be left out, even though it’s just one Parsha? Many commentaries explain how after the debacle of the golden calf, God was so angry at the Jewish people that He was ready to get rid of them and start a new nation with Moshe at the helm (keep in mind Moshe was on top of Har Sinai at the time of the golden calf). Moshe argued, defending the people by reasoning that if God wiped out the Jews, the other nations of the world would question Hashem and declare how terrible Hashem is to take His people out of slavery only to kill them out in the desert. Furthermore, Moshe said, “If You wipe out the Jewish nation, then kill me along with them.” Moshe was the captain of the ship that was sinking, the last one off to safety, putting himself alongside the people. Moshe declared, ”If you wipe them out, then erase me from the book that you wrote”. Once Moshe made that statement, Hashem felt He needed to pay heed to the intent and even though He did not destroy the Jews He nevertheless ‘erased Moshe’s name’.. Hence God did not write Moshe’s name in this one portion and arranged it to occur on the week that Moshe died.

A difficulty still exists, however. Why would Hashem punish Moshe for trying to defend Am Yisroel? Reb Shimon Sofer explains that leaving out Moshe’s name is not a punishment; it is, to the contrary, a reward! Hashem gives Moshe a one-time honor of Moshe being the decider and giver of the Mitzva directly to the people without Hashem first commanding him to do so. The very first word of the Sedra is "ואתה" “and you” Moshe will command the Sons of Israel. This is similar to a king who gives permission to one of his servants to rule for a day. Because Moshe was willing to sacrifice his own name, Hashem rewarded him by establishing the Mitzva of the priestly garments. Sometimes even when you don’t hear your name being called, it is nevertheless loud and clear as to who is being called!

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Thu, October 1 2020 13 Tishrei 5781