Although it is obvious from the context of the previous parts of the Torah that when the Torah states “and you shall command” the you referred to is Moshe, nevertheless the name of Moshe does not appear in this week's Torah reading. Many explanations, ideas and commentaries have been advanced over the ages as to why his name is absent from this portion of the Torah.
His name is so intertwined with the Torah that he transmitted to us, that the absence of his name strikes a perplexing and even jarring note. Since there are no mere coincidences or accidents of language and style in the Torah, this issue of the absence of the name of Moshe in this week's Torah reading merits our attention and understanding.
There is an element of Moshe’s phenomenal modesty certainly present here. Moshe strove all of his life to prevent Jewish belief from becoming the cult of the personality. Moshe always made it clear that he was only the conduit for the transmission of God's word to the people of Israel and that the Torah was of Heavenly origin and not the work of his mind and pen.
Thus it would be completely in character for him to allow an entire portion of his teachings to Israel to appear without his name being attached to it. The Torah is represented by the great candelabra and the light that emanated from it. The fuel that fed that light – the pure olive oil, came from all of the Jewish people collectively and not from Moshe alone. It is completely understandable that the intrinsic modesty of Moshe would be reflected by the absence of his name being associated with this holy fuel and light.
The Torah reading of this week coincides with the Shabbat of Zachor. Amalek comes to destroy the Jewish people in their infancy as a nation. There has always been a tendency in the Jewish world to somehow ascribe the hatred of Jews by certain sections of the non-Jewish world to the acts, policies or personalities of the leaders of the Jewish people.
In the story of Purim, the Jews of Persia blamed Mordechai for the decrees and enmity of Haman. But Haman certainly is not satisfied with destroying Mordechai alone. He meant to destroy Mordechai’s Jewish critics as well. To our enemies, the hatred is never exclusively personal. To them, a Jew is a Jew, no matter what or whom.
Thus the fact that this week's Torah reading coincides with Shabbat Zachor indicates to us that the problem is not Moshe or any other leader or individual Jew. Even when Moshe and his name are absent from the scene, Amalek, and its hatred and violence towards Jews, is present and dangerously active.
There is a tendency in the Jewish world to cast blame upon our leadership - national, organizational and religious - for all of the outside ills that befall us. Our leadership must always be held up to scrutiny and critical standards of personal behavior and national policy. However, the outside forces that arise in every generation to attempt to destroy us do so even when our leaders are blameless and even absent from the scene completely.
Rabbi Berel Wein