In parashas Tetzaveh, we read that G-d instructs Moshe Rabbeinu to instruct to Jewish people to bring him pure olive oil:

And thou shalt command the children of Yisra᾽el, that they bring thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.

The Frierdiker Rebbe, Sefer HaMaamarim (תרפ''ח) observes the same: why was the oil brought to Moshe and not to Aharon, who was intended to kindle the menora later on? In the Maamar ViKibeil HaYehudim explains, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the maamar Ve'Atah Tetzaveh, explain that Moshe is, as kabbalah and other sources calls him, "the faithful shepherd" - רעיא מהימנא. This is one of the reasons why the oil needed to be brought to Moshe, since he nurtures our faith.

The Chizkuni gives an peshat interpretation as to why the oil needed to be brought to Moshe instead of Aharon, but I'm not satisfied with that explanation:

ויקחו אליך, “they will bring to you;” in order that you will be able to see inside the Tabernacle when you enter it and when you wish to leave it.

There are some chassidische seforim that explain that the oil refers to wisdom and that Moshe Rabbeinu was the one teaching all of B'nei Yisrael the Torah, every individual. "The path of a tzaddik is to teach Torah" (Avodas Yisrael; parashas Tetzaveh; first explanation). However, even if we take the direction that the Avodas Yisrael takes, e.g. that oil is a reference to wisdom and that Moshe was teaching every single individual, that still does not explain why the children of Yisrael needed to bring the oil to Moshe. Wouldn't it be more logical that the oil was Moshe's wisdom in Torah, and that he spread that?

Why did the people needed to bring the pure oil to Moshe and why not to Aharon? Please use sources and contemporary sources are very welcome. (yes, it might be completely logical that it was brought to Moshe, but hey, there are שִׁבְעִים פָּנִים לַתוֹרָה :)).

Side note: I’ve already learned the Maamar Ve’Atah Tetzaveh. I understand the concept both Rebbeim are teaching us in their maamarim, but I am looking for a more "ready-to-understand" answer, The Rebbeim use kabbalistic concepts, that I find difficult to understand when reading it. In Likkutei Sichos, the Rebbe says that many meforshim make the same observation: why was the oil needed to be brought to Moshe?, so far, I was able to locate a few, but none of them answeres the question.

  • 2
    Maybe because Moshe served as kohen gadol during yemei ha'miluim? And the next verse describes how things would be from the dedication and onwards.
    – Harel13
    Feb 20, 2023 at 15:54
  • 2
    Isn't the obvious answer because Moshe was the one in charge of making sure everything was done correctly?
    – N.T.
    Feb 22, 2023 at 4:15
  • 2
    @N.T. Yup. Many many parts of the commands of the Mishkan were second person singular, directed to Moshe the leader. I don't know why they're asking just on this one.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 27, 2023 at 13:44
  • 1
    @Shmuel That turns this into a question on the Friediker Rebbe.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 27, 2023 at 13:44
  • 1
    @Shmuel Not definitive, but I think I'm with N.T. To me it's the question that needs an explanation.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 27, 2023 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


This is the way I understand the נצי"ב in parshas Emor where it again discuss bringing the olive oil- he explains the point of this command is for Moshe to be like a king. If he orders there to be oil to light the Menorah, so that he can see when he goes to the mishkan. It is a decree.

משה מלך עשיתיך מה מלך הוא גוזר ואחרים מקיימין כך הוי גוזר וישראל מקיימין ... דמבואר מזה שהיה משה שייך ביחוד ללקיחה זו לולי שחלק הקב״ה כבוד למשה והזהיר את ישראל שהם יקחו בשביל משה. וגם לשון צו את ב״י דמשמע בכ״מ זרוז מאיזה טעם לפי הענין כמש״כ ר״פ צו. מש״ה הבינו חז״ל שמצוה זו לא היה נוגע תכליתה לתועלתם אלא בשביל משה. וזהו לשון המדרש צו את ב״י גזור והם מקיימים.
Hashem says to Moshe, I am made you a king, just like a king decrees and others obey so to you will command and the Jewish nation will obey… It is clear from here that the reason why only Moshe was commanded to this collection (the olive oil), is because Hashem wanted to give honour to Moshe and also to command the Jewish nation to take the oil for Moshe. This language of command is in order that the Jewish nation will quickly obey Moshe. From here the Midrash learns that the point of this Mitzvah was (to honour) Moshe.

My translation feel free to edit.

My understanding is that Hashem is giving him the commandment for himself that the Jews should treat him like a king and not just be the mouthpiece of Hashem. The נציב on this weeks parsha at the end of passuk 20 in a different manner explains it.
Therefore the whole command was for Moshe to be like a king then Aaron to light the Menora

  • Great, @fulltimekollelguy. Great find! To which Midrash is the Netziv referring to?
    – Shmuel
    Mar 1, 2023 at 12:48
  • Thank you @shmuel , I was looking for an answer to a different question (about batanura if the mitzvah is only for Moshe or for all generation) and found this Netziv here I belive is the midrash library.alhatorah.org/?r1=Tanchuma_Tetzaveh_6&s1=2 Mar 1, 2023 at 14:35
  • I found that the Mevo HaShearim writes something familiair: Moses was like the former (king), and Aaron, who was closer to the people and rectified them so that they could receive, was like the latter. That was why “the entire house of Israel cried for Aaron.”
    – Shmuel
    Mar 1, 2023 at 21:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .