Look at the first two words –VaYeilech Moshe – “and Moshe went.” Where did he go? It doesn’t say.
This question has many answers, but for a change, let’s try a Shazak original. To better understand this, it’s time for a Shazak flashback to the Book of Bereishis, to when Avraham Avinu was a young lad.
One day, Terach left his son Avram in charge of his idol store while he went out for a while.
Within a few moments, a very tall man entered the store.
“Show me the biggest idol you have in stock. It must be as big as me or even bigger. Money is no object,” he said as he took out a huge bundle of cash from his wallet.
“How old are you?” Avram questioned him.
“I am 53 years old.”
“And you want to spend a ton of money for a god that was just made yesterday?!”
Even as a young boy, Avram was driven by a mission – to teach the world about one G-d and wipe out Avodah Zarah (idol worship).
While he was sitting alone in the store, surrounded by lifeless statues, a lady came in with some delicious food for the idols. An idea popped into Avram’s head.
He grabbed an ax and smashed all of his father’s idols – ALL, except the largest one. When he was finished, he placed the ax in the arm of the one remaining idol and placed the food in front of it, claiming that the idols had fought over food and the biggest idol had won.
And the story continues, King Nimrod threw him into the furnace, but Avram was saved by a miracle.
Years later, HaShem called Avraham to continue his mission in a different place, “Lech Lecha” – “Go from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.”
“כל העולם מעבר אחד, והוא מעבר אחר” בראשית רבה
Indeed, it was none other than Avraham who was chosen to become the first Jew. He continued his “teach-everyone-about-HaShem-destroy-idol-mission” in the Land of Israel – and it sure wasn’t an easy job. In fact, he was known as Avraham Ha’Ivri (“Avraham from the other side”) because it was him versus the ENTIRE WORLD!
Avraham’s grand mission was continued by his son Yitzchak and his grandson Yaakov, all the way down to Moshe Rabbeinu. It was Moshe who successfully completed the mission. Indeed, as we have seen throughout the Book of Devarim, Moshe paved the way for Bnei Yisrael to enter the Holy Land, get rid of Avodah Zarah, settle there as a nation, and ultimately build the Beis HaMikdash.
So, what began with Lech Lecha of Avraham Avinu has now been completed with the similar words – VaYeilech Moshe. Moshe went. Moshe Rabbeinu, so to say, crossed the finish-line, successfully completing the mission that Avraham Avinu began!
In the words of another Moshe, Rabbi Moshe the son of Maimon, a.k.a. the Rambam:
Avraham Avinu began to undo those beliefs [in Avodah Zarah] through wise arguments and gentle urging. He would encourage the people he helped to serve HaShem. [This continued] until the Master of the Prophets [Moshe Rabbeinu] completed this goal and commanded that all traces of Avodah Zarah be wiped away from the Land of Israel.
Moreh Nevuchim, Volume 3, Chapter 29
…וכבר בארנו בחבורנו הגדול משנה-תורה שאברהם-אבינו ע”ה התחיל לסתור אלו הדעות בטענות וקריאה עדינה, ובפיוס בני-אדם, ומשך לבבם לעבודת-השם בהטיבו להם. עד שנתנבא אדון-הנביאים (=משה רבינו) והשלים הכוונה, וציוה…. למחות זכרם ולשרשם מארץ החיים, “מזבחותיהם תתצון וגו'”.
מו”נ, חלק ג פרק כט
Here at Shazak we thought the above idea was an original thought, that is, until later we noticed something similar in the commentary of the Baal HaTurim. The author was Rabbi Yaakov (1269-1343) son of Rabbi Ashar (a.k.a. the Rosh), and he wrote fascinating Torah insights which include play on words and hidden number codes.
Here, he tells us that the last words of the previous Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, ends Hashem’s promise to Avraham, Yitschak and Yaakov that their children would inherit the land. And this Parsha begins by telling us that Moshe went. Put the two together, explains Rabbi Yaakov, and you get the hint. Moshe went to tell Avraham, Yitschak and Yaakov, that Hashem was finally fulfilling his promise. The Bnei Yisrael were coming home!
Throughout the writings of the great Rambam we find his tremendous admiration for these two giants – Avraham Avinu, he calls “Pillar of the World” and Moshe Rabbeinu is given special titles, such as, “Master of the Prophets” and “Choicest Among Men.” The Rambam clearly recognized how much these two leaders had accomplished and how important they were in bringing the awareness of HaShem to the entire world.
It seems that the Rambam also grew up in a house that really stressed the greatness of Moshe Rabbeinu. While the Rambam’s father, Rabbi Maimon, lived in Fez, Morocco, he wrote an amazing letter to his suffering brethren, which uplifted their spirits. Appropriately, it was known as Igeres HaNechamah, meaning “Letter of Consolation.”
In a nutshell, Rabbi Maimon’s message was, “Do not be dejected. Recite chapter 90 of Tehillim, which starts with Tefillah L’Moshe. Say it in your prayers every single day. While you say it, think how great and awesome Moshe Rabbeinu was.”
It’s incredible! In that letter, Rabbi Maimon wrote:
No wonder Rabbi Maimon had named his son, Moshe (later to be known as “Rambam” which stands for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon).
And don’t be surprised that Rambam named his only son, Avraham. For sure! It only makes sense.