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March 18, 2010 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-03-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

IN PERSON -

Spirituality

TORAH PORTION

3N\

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r

IN CONCERTI

The Nearness Of God

Shabbat Vayikra: Leviticus 1:1 5:26;
Isaiah 43:21-44:23.

-

dwell in their midst. If they forego
their true vocation as a "sacred
he opening words of Vayikra nation and a Kingdom of priest-
teachers" while God is in such close
tell us that God first called
proximity to them, then this God of
to Moses and then corn,
municated to him a specific message truth will have to punish and even
destroy them.
concerning the sacrificial offerings
As a physical symbol
of the Sanctuary.
of
the concealment — or
Why this double lan-
partial
absence — of the
guage of "calling" first
(hester panim),
Divine
and then "speaking" after-
Moses
takes
the Tent of
wards? Why not cut to
Meeting
and
removes its
the chase: "And the Lord
central position in the
spoke to Moses from the
Israelite encampment, to
Tent of Meeting"?
a distance of 2,000 cubits
The Ramban
away. (33:7). He then
(Nahmanides) limits this
remonstrates with God,
double language to the
Rabbi S hlomo
arguing that the Almighty
Sanctuary specifically:
Ris kin
had
promised to show
"This (seemingly super-
Special to the
His
love
by means of His
fluous language of first
Jewish News
Divine Name, to reveal to
calling and then speak-
him His Divine attributes;
ing) is not used elsewhere
and to accept Israel as His special
(where God is addressing Moses);
nation (33:11,12).
it is only used here because Moses
In other words, Moses argues
would not otherwise have been per-
that that He, God — and not an
mitted to enter the Tent of Meeting,
angel-messenger — must reveal His
would not otherwise have been per-
mitted to be in such close proximity Divine ways and lead Israel.
God may not be completely
to the place where the Almighty was
manifest as the God of love in every
to be found." (Ramban ad loc).
historical experience of our people
From this perspective, it is Moses
and will not yet teach the world
who must first be summoned by
ethical monotheism. Israel remains
God and receive Divine permission
a "work-in-progress:' with God
before he dare enter the Sacred Tent
behind a cloud and "incommuni-
of Meeting of the exalted Holy of
cado." Our nation, albeit imperfect,
Holies.
still serves as witnesses that the God
This scenario helps us under-
stand God's relationship — and lack of love and compassion exists, and
thereof — with the Israelites in gen- orchestrates historical redemption
through Israel.
eral and with Moses in particular.
God is "incorporated:' incorpore-
You may recall that the initial
alized, in Israel, the people and the
commandment to erect a Sanctuary
land.
was in order for the Divine Presence
Vayikra opens when God perceives
to dwell in the midst of the Israelites
that Moses has reached the highest
(Exodus 25:8); such a close iden-
spiritual level achievable by mortals;
tity between the Divine and the
the cloud is removed from the Tent
Israelites on Earth would signal the
of Meeting and God invites Moses
period of redemption.
to enter it and receive more of those
Tragically, Israel then sins with
Divine emanations which comprise
the Golden Calf and God immedi-
our Bible. Pi
ately informs them that "I cannot
go up in your midst because you are
Shlomo Riskin is chancellor of Ohr Torah
a stiff-necked nation, lest I destroy
you on the way" (Exodus 33:3). Only Stone and chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel.
if the Israelites are worthy can God

Efrat, Israel

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