Sedra, Ki SiSa, 120 Words. Moshe’s Glowing Countenance

What prompted the glow of Moshe Rabbenu’s face? [Rashi, 34:29]

Moshe requested to “see” Gd; according to the Gemara, to understand why the righteous suffer. HKBH explains that no human can apprehend this, so Moshe is permitted to see only the “back” of HKBH. Moshe waits in the cleft of the rock, and whilst there, HKBH placed His hand over Moshe until He passed by.  Moshe Rabbenu’s countenance glowed because he was touched by Gd’s hand, the hand that obstructed him from seeing HKBH’s face.

Was this a positive or a negative event? On the one hand, now the people are afraid of Moshe and he is more distant from them. At the same time Moshe Rabbenu is now closer to HKBH. Rashi 34:30 explains that the people’s fear was a consequence of the sin of the Golden Calf, beforehand they were comfortable viewing HKBH’s presence on Mount Sinai. Was it better for Moshe Rabbenu to be constantly at the People’s level, or is it better for the rabbi to oscillate between Heaven and Earth?

Yet, Moshe Rabbenu had the opportunity to see KKBH at the burning bush, but he turned away; now when Moshe asked HKBH, Gd said, “When I wanted you did not want, now that you want, I don’t want.” [Gemara Berachos 7a, which actually documents a Machlokes] This is a very peculiar almost infantile sounding response.

Perhaps, it is a question of leadership style. There may be more than one correct style, but consistency is the key.

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