Extract from a Commentary on Parashat Ki Tisa
by Sephardic U
Moshe Wants to Know God
Shortly after the momentous occasion of the Giving of the Law on Har Sinai, the Israelites commit a preposterous transgression. They make and worship a molten idol, the Golden Calf. Moshe pleads with God to show mercy to the rebellious nation, and then makes a request which seems to be out of place (Ex. 33:13):
הודיעני נא את דרכיך ואדעך
Show me Your ways so I may know You!
Moshe continues to explain why he believes that he deserves that knowledge:
ואתה אמרת ידעתיך בשם וגם מצאת חן בעיני
“You said that You have known me by name and that I have found grace in Your eyes.”
To know by name and to find favor in one’s eyes is to have a personal relationship. Moshe argues that since he has this special relationship with God, he should get to know God better. God’s response to that request was a mystical, breathtaking event, in which Moshe was hiding in the crevice of the rock while God passed His glory before him. Moshe wanted to get to know God better to have a better relationship. We can paraphrase his words to say: if you truly love me, tell me more about yourself. These are words spoken between spouses and friends. They want proof for the love and for the stability of the relationship. They understand that intimate knowledge will strengthen and deepen the relationship.
Moshe wanted to get to know God better to have a better relationship. We can paraphrase his words to say: if you truly love me, tell me more about yourself. These are words spoken between spouses and friends. They want proof for the love and for the stability of the relationship. They understand that intimate knowledge will strengthen and deepen the relationship.
Moshe’s request to know God better is an argument in his people’s favor. He claims that they have sinned because they only know the rigid law and God’s service. If they would know God with the love and passion of spouses or dear friends, the Golden Calf would not have happened.
Love and kindness infuse the relationship with a sense of commitment and gratitude. In the spiritual realm, the laws between us and others are less prone to become routine actions, and they always give us new insights and excitement.
The elation from giving another person is more than charity and it is not only monetary. It is giving and sharing time, attention, advice, and compassion. It is extended, as the verse says, to thousands. Every person we meet and interact with can teach us something new about the world and about ourselves. When that interaction is one of loving kindness it enables us to see and connect with the humanity in the other, and it is then an uplifting and inspirational experience.
There Always is a Mystery
Before God reveals some secrets to Moshe, He tells him (Ex. 33:20-23):
לא תוכל לראות את פני כי לא יראני האדם וחי… וראית את אחורי ופני לא יראו
You will not be able to see My face, for man cannot see Me while alive… you will see My back but My face will not be seen.
In the quest for God, and in the quest for love, there should always be an unknown. When spouses or friends seek and find new facets of their beloved, they are filled with a sense of mystery and longing, which breed love and passion.
Our quest for God is in essence a search for a meaning and a definition of oneself. We should strive to constantly uncover new secrets and explore new mysteries, and to grow intellectually and emotionally. These secrets are in the wisdom of the Torah, science, and the natural world, but most importantly, they are in each and every one of us.
Moshe, hiding in the crevice, waiting to see God’s face, is an allegory to any human who seeks God. We are both the prophet and the image of God. Sometimes, we hide, we feel lost, and we cower in the dark. We often pursue a dream or a vision which is tantalizingly close but always a step ahead, and we can glimpse its rear.
We believe in the vision and do not give up. Wanting to see its face, we came out of the cave. We thus live a wholesome, compassionate life. We emulate God’s attributes, showing responsibility and honesty, and treating others with love and compassion. When we finally reach the elusive image, and when it turns to look at us, we know: I have found God, I have found myself!
KOL HATOR Commentary – Moshe’s craving to want to more intimately know God, raises once more the concept of being able “to see God”. We have comprehensively investigated this concept at the beginning of this annual Torah Reading Section (2021-2022) when we considered Parashat Vayerah (and He appeared) – the 4th Parashah of the year – in our commentary “Is it possible for God to appear to mankind in visible Form?”
Our Rabbinic commentary here above once more accentuates this intriguing question. It raises the question whether a “Love relationship” could be possible without such intimate acquaintance.
Perhaps this blessed of all relationships with our Creator (in Who’s Image we have been created) is therefore presented as a future achievement for those who make it “through the Gates” (after the Final Judgment) into His Universal Kingdom. Multiple Promises in the Tanach Scriptures present that as the Final Reward: when we will Know, recognize and see Him – in fact when we will be “like Him”, fully changed into His Image. His Mishkan – a Living Temple for God to dwell in amongst His People.