Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tetzaveh / Ki Tisa: Remove Me Na

A curious factiod: The word na` (please, now, raw) appears in every book of the Torah many times, with the exception of one book - Vayikra, where it does not appear at all. Isn't it nice to say please? How come, then, is is missing from sefer Vayikra?

The answer can be found in parshat Ki Tisa, in Shemot 32:32, where Moshe pleads on behalf of the Benei Yisrael after the cheit ha`eigel:
לב וְעַתָּה, אִם-תִּשָּׂא חַטָּאתָם; וְאִם-אַיִן--מְחֵנִי נָא, מִסִּפְרְךָ אֲשֶׁר כָּתָבְתָּ. 32 Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.'
Now, Hashem forgave them, but still, tzaddik gozer veHakadosh Baruch Hu mekayem, and so, He blotted out the work Na from his sefer. And the sefer he chose was sefer Vayikra.

There is a similar, famous explanation about why this sidra (Tetzaveh) does not have Moshe's name. And this is right before parshat Ki Tisa. And since Moshe stated מְחֵנִי נָא מִסִּפְרְךָ, Hashem followed through, but did not remove Moshe's name from the entire Torah, but only from parashat Tetzaveh. There are also explanations associated with וַיֹּאמֶר, בִּי אֲדֹנָי; שְׁלַח-נָא, בְּיַד-תִּשְׁלָח in Shemot 4:13, and Aharon's role instead of Moshe's role. See here and here for more.

How is Tetzaveh a sefer? Good question. Perhaps what was meant was sefer Bereishit...

I heard another cute devar based on this, but forget from whom. Moshe told Hashem that it was Hashem's fault. They had gold, and used it to build the Golden Calf. But why did they have this gold? Only because Hashem told them to ask for it! In parshat Bo, in Shemot 11:2, we read:
ב דַּבֶּר-נָא, בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם; וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ, וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ, כְּלֵי-כֶסֶף, וּכְלֵי זָהָב. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let them ask every man of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.'
and as the midrash notes, this was a request, using the word na, please. (Despite the fact that the translation above renders it "now.") Why? Because Hashem promised Avraham that the Bnei Yisrael would leave Egypt birchush gadol, and to ensure that this promise was kept, Hashem asked this "favor" that they collect this silver and gold from their former masters.

Moshe is saying that it is the fault of this earlier "please." Had they not done this as a favor to God, they would not have the gold, and would not have made the Golden Calf. Therefore, Moshe is saying to blot out the na.

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