Chazal quote a midrash that the reason why Moshe Rabbeinu’s name does not appear in the entire Parshas T’tzaveh is because after the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem intended to eradicate the Jewish People and create a new nation out of Moshe’s descendants. Moshe begged on the people’s behalf and told Hashem, “And now, if You would just forgive their sin; but if not, erase me from Your book that You have written.” (Sh’mos 32:32). Even though Hashem did in fact forgive B’nei Yisrael’s sin as a result of his plea, Moshe was nevertheless erased from one parshah in the Torah, Parshas T’tzaveh. The lesson is powerful and unmitigating: A word is a word. When a person makes a statement, he must keep his word, no matter what happens or changes in any given situation. Once Moshe said, “Erase me from Your book” – meaning the Torah – Hashem held Moshe to his word, and did indeed erase him – but mercifully, only from one parshah.

Shloime Kaufman’s eyes moved rapidly across the familiar faces of the men packed into shul on this sunny Shabbos morning. As gabbai, he had been going through this routine for the past 20 years, looking out over the congregation and choosing a few each week for aliyos. He always recalled the famous words of the Yerushalmi (Megillah 4) that k’rias haTorah is likened to the Maamad of Kabalas HaTorah and a gabbai is akin to HaKadosh Baruch Hu on Har Sinai, as he gives out the aliyos.

R’ Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita, told over the following remarkable story. One night, the phone rang in his home. One of the foremost pillars of Torah in our generation was on the line, a man who donates vast sums to mosdos HaTorah. He said he urgently needed to speak to the Rav. Although he wasn’t feeling well, he agreed. This is how the conversation went.

A fascinating story about how one can become enriched from following the minhag to eat fruit on Tu BiSh’vat was told by an Israeli Jew after a trip he took to France. The man would often fly on business to various cities, and on one occasion, he found himself in Paris in mid-February. He went to daven in a nearby synagogue, and it was there that he learned that that very day was Tu BiSh’vat. He had a flight back to Israel to catch later in the day, so he quickly hurried out to the local fruit market and purchased some fruit to take along on his flight. The fruit seller was a religious Jew and when he noticed the man picking up some of the most exotic and expensive items, he felt compelled to ask: “Tell me, sir, why are you buying so much fruit – and such an exotic selection – just to take back to Israel? Aren’t there many exotic fruits in the Holy Land?”

Last week, we read of klal Yisrael’s preparation for the sublime experience of Matan Torah: Sh’loshes Y’mei Hagbalah – the three days prior to the Revelation, the great fire and smoke that rose like from a furnace, the lightning, shofar blast, Hashem’s “voice” ushering forth from the mountain. This week, we read of the rights of the servant and maid, the laws of damages and watchmen, the prohibition against oppressing the foreigner, orphan, or widow, and against cursing people and corrupting justice. What is the connection?

The Jewish People are the only people in history to predicate their survival on education. The most sacred duty of parents is to teach their children. Judaism is a religion whose heroes are teachers and whose passion is study. The Egyptians built pyramids. The Romans built the Coliseum. Jews built schools. That is why we alone, of all the civilizations of the ancient world, are still alive and strong, still continuing our ancestors’ vocation, our heritage intact and undiminished. In this parshah, Moshe Rabbeinu speaks of the duty of parents to educate their children. We should encourage our children to ask questions, so that the transmission of the Jewish heritage would be not a matter of rote learning but of active dialogue between parents and children.