Friday, September 24, 2021

D’var Sukkot Shabbat Chol Hamoed

Exodus 33:12-34:26

This Saturday falls in the middle of the observance of Sukkot, so has a special parsha. We read from the book of Exodus from the end of chapter 33 into the beginning of 34. This is shortly after the incident with the golden calf.

Moses is speaking with God. Among the requests he makes is to behold God’s presence.

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִ֨י אַעֲבִ֤יר כׇּל־טוּבִי֙ עַל־פָּנֶ֔יךָ וְקָרָ֧אתִֽי בְשֵׁ֛ם ה’

And God answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name LORD.” (Exodus 33:19)

God then tells Moses he will have him go into a cleft in the rock, where God will shield Moses until God has passed by. God adds:

וַהֲסִרֹתִי֙ אֶת־כַּפִּ֔י וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵרָאֽוּ

Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:23)

A few verses later after God has done this, what Moses declares may sound quite familiar:

ה’ ׀ ה’ אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת׃ נֹצֵ֥ר* חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן וָפֶ֖שַׁע וְחַטָּאָ֑ה וְנַקֵּה:

The LORD! the LORD! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7)

This is a prayer that we just heard during the High Holidays! But how did Moses understand this from God briefly passing by?