This week’s parsha starts with a beautiful plea from Moses to God:
I have known you by name,
and you have found favor in my eyes!
So now —
if I have, pray, found favor in your eyes,
pray let me know your ways that I may truly know you.
OK, says God.
Then Moses asks to see God’s Glory. But God says no human can see God and live! So God tucks Moses into a gap between some rocks and screens him with God’s hand. Then God passes by and lets Moses see God’s back.
After that, God tells Moses to go down and carve two stone tablets and go back up the mountain.
Back on the mountain, Moses says – or sings – a prayer that we still sing today:
El rachum v’ chanun…
Showing mercy, showing favor…
Keeping loyalty to the thousandth generation…
Then God gives Moses some commandments:
- Don’t worship false gods
- Don’t let your kids marry people who worship false gods
- Don’t make metal idols
- Celebrate Passover for seven days
- Give God the first born of your children and your animals
- Don’t work on the Sabbath
- Observe Shavuot
- Don’t leave Passover offerings lying around overnight
- Bring the first fruits of the soil to God
- Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk
Now some of these commandments sound strange, but we follow them today in one way or another!
- Of course, we don’t worship false gods or idols.
- We celebrate Passover, Shavuot and Shabbat.
- There’s a practice called “pidyon ha ben” in which we “buy back” our first-born boys from a friend or relative who happens to be a Kohayn.
- And finally, many Jews don’t cook meat with milk.
Moses is on the mountain for forty days and forty nights and during that time he neither eats nor drinks! He just carves what God tells him on those stone tablets.
Finally, Moses comes down from the mountains and lo and behold! His face is glowing! Everyone is like “Whoa. I’m not going near that shiny dude!” Moses’ face is so brilliant that he starts wearing a veil!
Food for Thought
What do you think it mean to see God’s Glory?