Today is ראש חודש ניסן, the anniversary of the inauguration of the משכן. As Rashi says, there are ten narratives in the Torah that deal with this auspicious day:
Our parasha starts after the whole ceremony (not clear if it’s later that day or the next day). But the wording is very funny:
The subject, ”ה׳“, comes too late in the sentence, after the implied pronoun. The Malbim explains that ויקרא אל משה וידבר is a hendiadys:
So translate it as “Hashem called to Moses by speaking”.
And this is important, because immediately before, after the יום השמיני ceremony, ה׳ did not talk to Moshe:
Which is why we emphasize that ה׳ called Moshe now:
During the ceremony, Moshe was in constant communication with ה׳ (ויאמר ה׳ אל משה above). And it’s even more striking when we realize what had happened up to now, from the time that Moshe came down from Sinai:
Imagine the scene: for the past 6 months, every day, Moshe has gone to the office in the old אהל מועד, speaks with G-d כאשר ידבר איש אל רעהו. Yesterday was the big ceremony for the new אהל מועד. Today Moshe goes to the office, and his keys don’t work. G-d tells him, “No problem, I’ll buzz you in”. But he’s never needed to be buzzed in before. There’s a change in relationship implicit in this ויקרא אל משה וידבר. And this is how things will be from now on:
What has changed? First we need to look at another peculiarity of the pasuk, ויקרא אל משה. There’s a difference between קרא ל־ and קרא אל:
And strikingly in the narrative about Moshe going up הר סיני:
Artscroll makes the distinction:
There are four times Moshe is addressed with קרא אל:
To be called, קרא אל, by ה׳ is to have a “calling”:
The first is Moshe’s mission to take בני ישראל out of Egypt. The second is to get them ready to accept the Torah. The third is to get the Torah itself, to be on the level of the angels, 40 days without food or water.
What is this קריאה, the last one of Moshe’s career?
After this קריאה, there is a series of ״וידבר ה׳ אל משה לאמר״ paragraphs, with all the laws of sacrifices. Then it ends with a summary:
Note the two terms, בהר סיני and במדבר סיני. While the last clause is ambiguous, חז״ל understand במדבר סיני as referring to ביום צותו, and that refers to G-d’s commandment. Thus: “This is the law…, which G-d had commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that G-d commanded Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai, to bring their sacrifices”.
Moshe had been given the entire Torah on Sinai, but he hadn’t learned it:
In the אהל מועד, Moshe would now have a חברותא with ה׳, learning Torah, and teaching it to בני ישראל. His new role is to become משה רבינו. And now he will not talk כאשר ידבר איש אל רעהו (though he still is at the level of פנים אל פנים), but all his communication with ה׳ will be for the sake of teaching בני ישראל. This is hinted at in our pasuk:
The לאמר seems redundant with דבר אל בני ישראל, but Moshe is being told that he has to tell בני ישראל that he was commanded to speak to them:
Moshe’s new role is to be a תלמיד חכם, which implies both תלמיד and חכם:
The only way to truly learn is by teaching. דעת comes from דבר אל בני ישראל. And in this role, we can all strive to emulate משה רבינו. Moshe himself emphasizes that in becoming a תלמיד חכם, he is nothing special:
And that ענוה is the very thing that makes him the ultimate תלמיד חכם: