There are two edited Sichos for Parshas Tetzave 5752. The first combines several talks given on the days leading up to (and including) Shabbos, whereas the second was said entirely on Shabbos. They are very different in subject and style, but bound together by a common theme: the Essence of the soul and it’s connection to Hashem’s Essence.
The first Sicha opens with the famous fact that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name does not appear even once in our parsha. Among the answers given by commentators are that a) it always falls it close to 7 Adar, the day Moshe passed away; and, b) it is in some way a fulfillment of Moshe’s bold statement to Hashem “erase me from Your book” (מחני נא מספרך) if He will not forgive Bnei Yisroel. More on this later.
The Rebbe then addresses 7 Adar, which is not only the day Moshe passed away; it is also his birthday. As the Sages tell us: when Haman’s lottery fell out in Adar he was very happy, since this was the month when the Rebbe of the Jews passed away, but he didn’t know that on 7 Adar he [Moshe] died, and on 7 Adar he was born — and the day of his birth is sufficient to rectify the day of his death (כדאי הלידה שתכפר על המיתה). The Rebbe questions, then, using the proximity of Moshe’s passing as a reason for his name not appearing in our parsha: why should the parsha near 7 Adar contain a hint to Moshe’s passing? Why not his birth (which rectifies his death)? The other reason (“erase me from Your book”) is also questioned: it is recorded in another parsha altogether! But, reasons the Rebbe, since they are both given as a reason for the same event, they must be connected. And the Rebbe patiently reveals to us how.
The birth of Moshe in the month of Adar causes the cancellation of Haman’s decree. Haman was happy with this month for an additional reason: every other month has a special merit (Nissan has Pesach, for example) or a powerful mazal. But Adar has neither merit not mazal (אדר אין לו זכות ואין לו מזל). The Rebbe explains that Adar doesn’t have merit or mazal because it doesn’t need them — on Moshe’s birthday his mazal is powerful (מזלו גובר), and since “Moshe is Yisroel and Yisroel is Moshe” the mazal of all of Yisroel is powerful in this month.
What is the mazal of Yisroel? “Mazal” refers to the root of the neshoma Above. So when we learn that “there is no mazal for Yisroel” (unlike the other nations who have a particular astrological force as their mazal), it means that the Jewish people is higher than these constellations. The word “ein” אין means “is not” but can also be read as “ayin” — nothingness, a level above the grasp of human intellect. The Mazal of Yisroel is “ayin”, above the mazalos of the Nations, above the grasp of the intellect, the level of “Above name” (the level where Hashem does not need a name, since nothing else exists there).
The birth of Moshe Rabbeinu (7 Adar) hints at the revelation of the essence of the neshoma, which takes place at birth (when the child does not yet have a name). It is the revelation of the essence of his existence, and also of Yisroel, which reaches above Hashem’s name (or need for a name): where they are one with His essence (עצמותו יתברך).
So the absence of Moshe’s name in our parsha is connected with it’s proximity to his birth — meaning the revelation of the Essence of his being which is higher than and beyond his need for a name (thus, it doesn’t appear).
And what about the other reason given for Moshe’s name not appearing: his bold declaration of “erase me from Your book”? Explains the Rebbe, this, too, is connected with the same nekuda. The day Moshe was born refers to the revelation of his essence (התגלות העצם), which is connected with the essence of Yisroel, and it is the reason for his mesirus nefesh (“erase my name…”) on behalf of the Yidden. Thus, his birth on 7 Adar — the revelation of his essence and the essence of Yisroel — is what brought him to say “erase my name…”, and thus it is the most fitting time for its symbolic fulfillment: his name not appearing in the parsha. When? Close to the same revelation of the essence that caused it!
All of this connects to the second Sicha through the same nekudah: the essence of the soul. The Rebbe examines the Ketores, the 11 spices that were burnt on the golden altar inside the Beis haMikdosh. The offering of the Ketores is “the main intent of the Mishkan”, and until this avoidah was performed the Shechina did not dwell in the Mishkan.
“Ketores” is from the root meaning “connection”, which the Rebbe explains as the connection of the essence of the soul (עצם הנשמה) with Hashem.
When are the Ketores offered? According to the Rambam, the Seder is that after the sprinkling of the blood of the Tamid sacrifice: 5 of the 7 lamps of the menorah are kindled*, then the Ketores is offered, then the last 2 lamps of the menorah are lit. The lighting of the lamps of the menorah, explains the Rebbe, refers to neshomos Yisroel in keeping Torah and Mitzvos.
We are left with a question: why is there a need for a “break” in the middle of kindlng the lamps of the Menorah for the offering of Ketores? Why is there a break for the connection of the essence of the soul (Ketores) in the midst of lighting up Jewish souls through Torah and Mitzvos? Says the Rebbe: this “break” is to accomplish the main purpose of the Mishkan, which is the indwelling of the Shechina in the world, reflecting complete hiskashrus with Hashem (Ketores) being revealed in the world (the lamps, Torah and Mitzvos).
We might also find a hint here for the situation that would begin two weeks later in Adar 5752, continuing through Gimmel Tammuz, and into our present moment: the “break” that occurs in the middle of lighting up the world (the lamps), at which time the Kohen “disappears” from sight to perform the avoidah of “hiskashrus of the Essence” (ketores, which is performed alone — no one is allowed to see him [“there will not be any man in the Tent of Meeting”]). Then, while the Kohen who is bringing the Ketores is still out of sight, the last two lamps are kindled (assisted, the Rebbe says, by the avoidah of the Ketores). This could be hinting at our avodah of “hiskashrus of the essence of the neshoma” during the time the Rebbe is out of sight, and our job to imbue this into our lighting up the world through Torah and Mitzvos. And then, “after the completion of kindling the lamps the two of them go out together…that through the lamps will also be drawn down and revealed the level of hiskashrus and connection which occurs via the Ketores.”
(For greater elaboration on the reason for Moshiach bring concealed, see the kuntres “Between Golus and Geuloh”)
* The Rambam holds that הטבת הנרות includes lighting them, see footnote 11 in the Sicha.