Yismach Moshe Bimatnat Chelko Ki Eved Neeman Karahta lo. Kelil Tiferet Birosho Natata Lo
Beamdo Lifanecha Al Har Sinai – Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion; that You called him a
faithful servant. A crown of splendor You placed on/in his head when he stood before You at Mt
Ushnei Luchot Avanim Horeed Beyado Vechatuv Bahem Shemirat Shabbat – And he brought down
two stone Tablets upon which were written the Mitzvah of Shabbat observance.
Yismach Moshe is the opening prayer in the body of the Shabbat morning Shacharit Amidah. Let’s
explore the opening phrases in order to derive a deeper meaning and understanding of our tefillah:
1. Why do we start with Moshe and the covenant at Sinai?
2. What is meant by a crown on/in his head?
3. Why are we glorifying a moment that was overshadowed and crushed by the worshipping of
the Golden Calf?
1. The Talmud teaches that the Ten Commandments were transmitted on Shabbat morning.
Therefore, we begin our Shabbat morning Amidah reflecting on the covenant at Sinai. The
commentaries also teach that long before Shabbat was commanded at Sinai, Moshe
orchestrated a Shabbat day of rest in Egypt for the Israelites by advising Pharaoh that all the
slaves needed a day off to reenergize themselves. Moshe chose Shabbat.
2. A crown on/IN his head – The sages explain that the crown of Moshe was the radiance on his
face after his encounter with G-d at Sinai. Exodus 34:19-35 states: when Moshe descended
from the mountain his face was radiating. When Moshe was not communicating with G-d or
teaching Torah to Israel, he would keep his radiance covered with a masveh / mask . Rav
Chaim Voloshiner zt”l explains that the reason the crown was BIrosho – IN his head, and not
Al Rosho – ON his head is because the crown was spiritual and not physical. A physical
acquisition remains external, but a spiritual acquisition is inculcated in the core of the soul –
hence BIrosho – IN his head.
3. Finally, we are not glorifying a moment that was overshadowed by the debacle of the Golden
Calf i.e. the receiving of the first set of Tablets; rather, we are invoking the receiving of the
second set of Tablets carved out by Moshe himself. Moshe descended from the mountain the
third and final time on Yom Kippur in the year 2449 with the second set of Luchot – Tablets
which the Israelites carried with them all forty years through the desert.
Take Home Tip – Every Shabbat morning during the Shacharit Amidah we revisit the great Shabbat
at Sinai. It was on that Day of Revelation that we became an Eternal Nation, a nation of Royal Priests
charged with the vital task to bring light, truth, and goodness to the world forever.
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