Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sukkot Intermediate Sabbath Reading and Commentary

RaYBaSH’s Torah Thoughts
Sukkot Intermediate Sabbath
Exodus 33:12-34:26
Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
Matthew 17

Exodus 33:12-34:26

V.12-19 Moses needs assurance and confirmation that he has understood all HaShem has said to him and promised him.

We also find that Moses, this former Prince of Egypt turned murderer, shepherd and now national leader puts his past behind him and totally gives himself over to being intimate with ADONAI and his desire to know and experiences Him more.

“There are various interpretations of the mystical dialogue between God and Moses, but all agree on the general theme: Israel had fallen precipitously from its high spiritual  standing, and Moses wanted it restored, as much as possible. Furthermore, he sought to increase his own understanding of God’s essence and ways.” – Stone Edition of the Tanak

V.13 Rabbi’s and Sages tells us that this verse is a cloaked phrase showing that to know God’s ways is to know the answer to the age old question, “why do good people suffer and bad people prosper?”

V.14 ADONAI assures Moses that His Presence would go before them whether in the form of cloud, fire or angel.

V.15-17 Moses declares and makes clear that he will not lead Israel from their current encampment unless he knows and is assured that ADONAI will go before them, lead, guide and direct them. ADONAI assures Moses He will do this for Moses and Israel. ADONAI declares that He and Moses are so close and are on a personal first name basis.

V.18 With ADONAI verbally expressing His favor of Moses, Moses ceases this opportunity to test just how favorable he was in the eyes of Elohim. He asks to see, literally and visibly see ADONAI who is Invisible and if seen will cause to perish the imperfect, sinful mortal. Moses sought the greatest intimacy one could ever wish or hope to have with the Divine, personal intimacy and infinite knowledge.

“Seeing that it was a time of Favor, Moses was emboldened to request a greater degree of perception than any person had ever experienced (Rambam), so that he could understand the full extent of Godliness (Or HaChaim), and so that he could grasp how God conveys His influence to every part of the universe (Sfono).” – Stone’s Edition of the Tanak

V.19 ADONAI agrees to as much intimacy as a human can bear and still live in the mortal realm. He allows his favor to pass in front of him and ADONAI makes sure Moses knows that it is because of it ultimately being His Divine choice to do so and not due to any merit Moses had, nor that Moses had any power to manipulate or command God.

V.20 When every anyone in the Biblical texts where it says that someone “saw” ADONAI, it was always an emanation of ADONAI, in other words, ADONAI cloaked in some way so as to temper His raw glory that would disintegrate mortal, finite sinful humanity. Many times He appeared as “the Angel of the LORD” or was seen in the Holy of Holies by the Levitical Priests through a smoke screen of incense of Yom Kippur.

“The simile refers to a complete and unadulterated perception of God. To achieve such a perception was impossible, but God would allow Moses to see His back (v.23), i.e., a vague degree of knowledge.” – Stone’s Edition of the Tanak
You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live (33:20)
“So said G-d to Moses: When I wanted to show you My face in the burning bush, you did not want to look [as it says, "And Moses hid his face, for he feared to look upon G-d" (Exodus 3:6)]. Now that you want to, I am not willing.” -- (Talmud, Berachot 7a)
“Shimon ben Azzai said: I found a scroll of genealogical records in Jerusalem and therein was written... that [King] Manasseh slew Isaiah... He brought him to trial and then put him to death. He said to him: Your teacher Moses said, "For no man shall see Me and live," and you said, "I saw the L-rd sitting on a throne, high and exalted" (Isaiah 6:1)...
How, indeed, do we resolve the contradiction between these two verses? In accordance with what was taught: All the prophets looked into an opaque glass (seeing but a reflection of the Divine), but Moses looked through a clear glass.” -- (Talmud, Yevamot 49b)

V.21-22 ADONAI tells Moses to stand on a rock and prepare to “see” Him. It is the rock that will be the cleft, the indentation made from where Moses will hewn the second set of stone tables (34:1)

34:1 This verse teaches us that when we break something of others we are expected to make things right and to fix or replace what we destroyed. ADONAI Himself made the first tablets of stone and Moses broke them in anger and frustration at Israel’s idolatry with the Golden Calf and was now expected to replace them by hewing the new set out himself.

“There was once a king who went off on a distant journey and left his bride with her maidservants. Because of the promiscuity of the maidservants, rumors began circulating about the king's bride. The king heard of this and wished to kill her. When the bride's guardian heard this, he tore up her marriage contract, saying: "Should the king say, 'My wife did such and such,' we shall say to him, 'She's not your wife yet.'"
The king subsequently investigated and found that the corruption came from the maidservants, and was reconciled with his bride. Said the bride's guardian to the king: "Sir, make her another marriage contract, for the first one was torn up." Said the king to him: "You tore it up, so you supply the paper and I shall write on it with my hand."
The king is G-d, the bride is the nation of Israel, the corrupt maids are the eirev rav (the "mixed multitude" who had joined the Jewish people at the Exodus and were responsible for the making of the Golden Calf), the bride's guardian is Moses, and the marital contract is the Torah. Thus, when G-d forgave the Jewish people, He said to Moses: "Hew for yourself two tablets of stone." -- (Midrash Tanchuma; Rashi)

“G-d said to Moses: Do not be distressed over the First Tablets, which contained only the Ten Commandments. In the Second Tablets I am giving you also Halachah, Midrash and Aggadah.” -- (Midrash Rabbah)

“Had Israel not sinned with the Golden Calf, they would have received only the Five Books of Moses and the book of Joshua. Why? Because, as the verse (Ecclesiastes 1:18) says, "Much wisdom comes through much grief."” -- (Talmud, Nedarim 22b)
“Both the [Second] Tablets and the broken Tablets, were placed in the Ark.” -- (Talmud, Bava Batra 14b)

V.2 Moses prepares for another 40 day fast upon Sinai in order to receive the Torah again.

Rashi said, “The First Tablets, which were given in great fanfare and noise, were destroyed, while the Second Tablets, given in private, endured. For there is no better trait than modesty.”

V.3-4 Moses was the only one allowed to ascend, touch or be in close proximity of the Mountain. The Rabbi’s and Sages believe Moses also received the Oral Law at this time and that Joshua did not accompany Moses on this second ascent. Some believe Joshua was left behind to keep an eye on wayward Israel. Some also believe that this is why the Halacha of the Oral Torah had to be passed down orally because e Moses was the only one to receive it as Joshua wasn’t there with Moses this time around.

“At the end of Moses’ second forty-day period on Mount Sinai, God agreed to give a second set of Tablets to Israel. This time, however, the stone Tablets themselves would not be the handiwork of God; instead, Moses was commanded to carve out the stone cubes and bring them to the mountain, whereupon God would inscribe the Ten Commandments on them. This change was a reflection of the lower status of the nation, but it also had a very positive aspect. Just as the word of God could be engraved on Tablets fashioned by man, so mortal human beings can sanctify themselves.” – Stone’s Edition of the Tanak.

V.5-7 This passage is the basis for the Jewish doctrine of the 13 Attributes of ADONAI.

“The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy or Shelosh-'Esreh Middot enumerated in Exodus 34:6-7 are the attributes with which, according to Jewish tradition, God governs the world. According to the explanation of Maimonides these attributes must not be regarded as qualities inherent in God, but merely as the method of His activity, by which the divine governance appears to the human observer to be controlled. In the Sifre, however, these attributes are not called "middot," which may mean "quality" as well as "rule" and "measure", but "derakim" (ways), since they are the ways of God which Moses prayed to know and which God proclaimed to him.
The number thirteen is adopted from Talmudic and rabbinic tradition. There are divergent opinions as to which word they begin and with which they conclude. According to some the thirteen attributes begin with the first "Adonai," in verse 6, and end with the word "ve-nakeh" in verse 7. The single attributes are contained in the verses as follows:
  1. Adonai — compassion before a person sins;
  2. Adonai — compassion after a person has sinned;
  3. El — mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need;
  4. Rachum — merciful, that humankind may not be distressed;
  5. Chanun — gracious if humankind is already in distress;
  6. Erech appayim — slow to anger;
  7. Rav chesed — plenteous in mercy;
  8. Emet — truth;
  9. Notzer chesed laalafim — keeping mercy unto thousands;
  10. Noseh avon — forgiving iniquity;
  11. Noseh peshah — forgiving transgression;
  12. Noseh chatah — forgiving sin;
  13. Venakeh — and pardoning.
According to others the thirteen attributes begin only with the second "Adonai," since the first one is the subject of "va-yikra" (and He proclaimed).[3] To secure the number thirteen, some count "noer esed la-alafim" as two (Nissim in Tos. l.c.), while others divide "erek appayim" into two, since forbearance is shown both to the good and to the wicked (comp. the gloss on Tosafot, l.c. and Ibn Ezra, l.c.), and still others end the thirteenth middah with "lo yenaeh" (he does not pardon; Maimonides, "Pe'er ha-Dor," p. 19b), Lemberg, 1859), this being considered a good quality, since through punishment man is moved to repentance, after which he is pardoned and pure (comp. Yoma 86a; Aaron b. Elijah, l.c.; and "'Ez ha-ayyim," ch. xcii.). Others term "we-naeh lo yenaeh" a single middah, the thirteenth being, in their opinion, "poed 'awon abot 'al-banim" (visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children), "this being regarded as compassionate since the transgressor is not punished immediately" (Maimonides, l.c.; Aaron b. ayyim, l.c.; comp. also "Da'at Zeenim").” --

“When Moses ascended to heaven, he found G-d sitting and writing "forbearing." Said Moses to G-d: "Master of the Universe! Forbearing to the righteous?" Said G-d: "Also to the wicked." Said Moses: "Let the wicked perish!" Said G-d: "See now that you will need this." When Israel sinned, G-d said to Moses: "Did you not tell Me to be forbearing only toward the righteous?" Said Moses to Him: "Did You not say to me, 'Also to the wicked'?"” -- (Talmud, Sanhedrin 111a)

“R’Yochanan said: Were it not written in Scripture, it would be impossible [for us] to say it. This passage teaches that God wrapped Himself [in a tallis] like one leading the congregation in prayer, and showed Moses the order of prayer. He said, “Whenever Israel sins, let them perform before Me this order [of prayer], and I shall forgive them.” – (Rosh HaShannah 17b)

Who says there’s no grace in the Law!?

V.8-10 Moses is humbled and lays face down in humble worship and thanks to ADONAI, asking Him to make Israel souly His. In return ADONAI seals and confirms that Israel is and forever will be His Nation, His People.

V.11-26 ADONAI informs the Children of Israel that He will drive out the pagan Canaanites from before them. He commands them to destroy all links to idolatry from the land and not to replace them by make molten gods. They were also commanded to refrain from making any pacts with the current inhabitants of the Land. Israel was also to sanctify male firstborn humans and cattle, and not to sacrifice as did the pagans by cooking live meat together with milk of the mother.

Finally Israel is commanded to observe the three pilgrimage festivals one of which includes the holiday of Sukkot, "the festival of the ingathering, at the turn of the year." At this time all Israelite males are commanded to make the pilgrimage to "be seen by God" during these three festivals and not to appear before Him empty handed.

“Despite the covenant, Israel could jeopardize its position by sinning. God tells Moses what sins are particularly threatening and what commandments are especially propitious for safeguarding Israel’s spiritual greatness. He begins by reiterating His promise to drive out the Canaanite nations, but then cautions Israel that it must avoid the temptations that would await them in the Land.” – Stone’s Edition of the Tanak

Ezekiel 38:18-39:16

In the Haftarah of this Shabbat is the subject matter of the war of Gog and Magog that will precede the Final Redemption.

“Its connection to the holiday of Sukkot is that according to tradition the war will take place during the month of Tishrei, the month when the holiday of Sukkot falls. In addition, this war is identical to the one described in the fourteenth chapter of Zachariah, the haftorah read on the first day of Sukkot, which concludes by saying that the gentile survivors of this war will be required to go to Jerusalem every year on the holiday of Sukkot to pay homage to G-d.” – The Haftarah in a Nutshell from

We finally see ADONAI responds to Gog’s attack against Israel by sending an earthquake, pestilence, great floods and hailstones and fire completely desolating the armies of Gog.
The Haftarah ends by saying that Gog’s weapons will be so numerous that it will provide fuel for fire for seven years!

Matthew 17

We see Yeshua going up to the place of His transfiguration.  As we read on we find that Moses and Eliyahu (Elijah), representing the Law and the Prophets as well as current and future fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy, appear and converse with Yeshua as He had been transfigured before the eyes of his talmidim (disciples). At this point many Christians foolishly think Kefa (Peter) desires to build a shrine to all three in order to worship or at best revere them. No, he didn’t want to build a shrine to worship all three of them. He basically was saying, “Hey! If Moshe and Eliyahu are gonna stick around for Sukkot, let’s build them and You (speaking to Yeshua) a sukkah!” For it was required that all Jewish males of age have their own sukkah. Kefa also was a Torah Obedient Jew and was just zealous to obey the Torah concerning Sukkot on this unprecedented occasion.

Moshe remind us of the Wilderness (past) and Eliyahu the Messiah’s return (future).

Right after Yeshua and His three intimate talmidim (Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochannon/ Peter, James and John) descent from the mount they encounter a man with a demon possessed son in which his other 9 talmidim could not exercise from the boy. Immediately Yeshua proceeds to deliver the boy from this demon and return him sound and whole to his father.