Shabbat Parshat Behar - 5760
"HaShem Spoke to
Moshe on Mount Sinai
At the beginning of his career; that is, at the beginning of his appointment as leader of the People of Israel, Moshe received a Prophetic vision at the Burning Bush, in the vicinity of Har Sinai. When Moshe resisted the appointment, HaShem gave him miraculous signs to make the People believe in Moshe's leadership, and He said to Moshe, "And this is a sign for you that it is I Who is sending you: When you take the Nation out of Egypt, they will worship 'Elokim' at this mountain." (Shemot 3:12)
says on the Passuk Shemot 3:1, "And he came to the Mountain of 'Elokim,'
at Chorev," as follows: "He
alone, without the sheep (one wonders,"as a good shepherd, what did
Moshe do with the sheep at that time, but forgetting that for the
"). R' Yehudah
said, 'It was comparable to the reaction of iron to a magnet. When iron is in the presence of the magnet, it jumps to the
magnet. So were Moshe and Har
Sinai, when they appeared one to the other, Moshe skipped upon it; that is
the meaning of, "And he came to the Mountain of 'Elokim,' at Chorev.'
R' Abba said, 'They were prepared for each other from the Six days
of Creation. And on that Day,
when the mountain felt Moshe's presence, and saw him entering into it and
skipping upon it, the Mountain stood tall; this teaches that each rejoiced
in the other." (Zohar Shemot 379)
It is very
interesting to note that in the three verses preceding the encounter
between HaShem and Moshe at the Burning Bush, the Name "Elokim"
appears five times suggesting, perhaps, successive "tzimtzumim,"
"contractions" as HaShem "approached" the world to
intervene in its history. The
last three of these are, "
And 'Elokim' remembered His covenant
with Avraham, with Yitzchak and with Yaakov.
And 'Elokim' saw the Children of Israel, and 'Elokim'
understood." (Shemot 3:24-25)
The Man of
"Elokim," as Moshe is called when he blesses the Children of
Israel before his death (Devarim 33:1),
and the Mountain of "Elokim" were fated to meet for the
purposes of "Torah" and "Tefila" and "Gilui
Shechinah," the Teaching of Torah and for Moshe's Prayer in behalf of
his People, and for the Revelation of HaShem's Presence in the World to
the eyes of Israel and all of the nations.
Yitro, the Torah describes the scene, "And Moshe took the People out
towards 'Elokim' from the camp, and they stood at the foot of the
Mountain. And Mount Sinai was
altogether involved in smoke, because HaShem had descended upon it in
fire, and its smoke rose as the smoke of an oven, and the Mountain
trembled greatly. And there was the blast of a Shofar, growing increasingly
loud, Moshe would speak, and 'Elokim' would answer him in thunder." (Shemot
19:17-19). Then HaShem spoke
the Ten Commandments, as it says, "And 'Elokim' spoke all these
Utterances, saying:" (Shemot 20:1)
People would betray HaShem at the foot of Sinai, due to a miscalculation
of time (Shemot 32:1) (perhaps this is what Moshe alludes to when he prays
in "Tefila LeMoshe," "Teach us to count our days"),
Moshe would first pray to save the People from destruction, "Moshe
pleaded before HaShem, his 'Elokim'
" (Shemot 32:11), then in
another forty days convert the Divine anger again to love, and then yet
another forty days receiving the Torah a second time, this time "for
keeps," not to be returned.
begins, "And HaShem spoke to Moshe at Har Sinai, saying:" (Vayikra
25:1) and proceeds to teach the Command of Shemittah, the seven year cycle
of agricultural activity and monetary loan cancellation. RASHI asks, "What is the connection between Shemittah
and Har Sinai? Were not all
of the Commands spoken at Sinai?"
And RASHI answers, "It was to teach that just as all the Laws
of Shemittah, the general principles and the particulars, were taught at
Sinai, so was it with all the Commands of the Torah, that everything was
taught to Moshe on Har Sinai." (Torat
Kohanim on Parshat Behar 1:1)
above, RASHI cited a Midrash that agreed with the opinion of R' Akiva, in
his dispute with R' Yishmael, where R' Akiva says that on Sinai, Moshe
learned all the general principles and
all the particulars of
each of the Commands, and they were only
reviewed on the Plains of Moav. Whereas
R' Yishmael is of the opinion that Moshe learned only
the general principles of the Commands on Sinai, while the particulars
were taught at the "Ohel Moed," the "Tent of Meeting,"
that was a part of the Mishkan.
Rabbeinu prayed, as mentioned above, "Teach us to count our
days." As we count the
Days of the Sefira, approaching the great Holiday of Shavuot, the
"Time of the Giving of the Torah," let us try to be more like
Moshe, the Man of "Elokim."
For the greatness of Moshe, according to the RAMBAM in Hilchot
Teshuvah (5:2), is somehow within the reach of every human being.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU