Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Request of Moses

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Moses sought three things of G-d and G-d granted them. He asked that G-d cause His Presence to rest upon Israel, and G-d granted it: "Unless You accompany us, how can it be known that I and Your people are pleasing to You" (Exodus 33:16). He asked that G-d not cause His Presence to rest upon idol worshippers, and G-d granted it: "I and Your people will be distinguished from every nation on the face of the earth" (ibid.). He asked that G-d make known to him His ways, and G-d granted this: "Make known to me Your ways" (Exodus 33) (Berachot 7; see Rashi).

Seemingly, Moses's request that G-d not cause His Presence to rest on the nations seems petty. Truthfully, however, the good of mankind was what concerned Moses in his request. As Rav Kook wrote:
"Israel's being guided by the Torah and its mitzvoth is a wonder. Mankind will have to advance for a long time until they are worthy of the same." (Ein Aya).

Israel were chosen and created in order to have an influence on the entire human race. As Isaiah said, "I created this people for Myself that they might tell My praise" (Isaiah 43:21). Israel are the focus of the world's achieving perfection, and by way of the Divine Presence resting on Israel, "two beneficial effects will result: First, the entire world will concentrate on one center. This will bring peace, unity and love to the human race. Second, all will merit the supreme success that is granted in the treasure of life of Israel" (Ein Aya, Berachot 7a).

Today, there are many different levels to the revealing of the Divine Presence. When Israel is in the darkness of the exile, the Divine Presence, as well, seems to be in exile, and G-d's name is profaned. As Ezekiel said (36:20), "When they came unto the nations, whither they came, they profaned My holy name; in that men said of them: These are the people of the L-rd, and are gone forth out of His land."

Yet when Israel return and are gathered in to Eretz Yisrael, and they defeat their enemies, G-d's name is sanctified, as it says, "Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself, and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am the L-rd" (Ezekiel 38:23). More and more it will be revealed for all to see that Israel are at the center of the revelation of the Divine Presence and the light of G-d in the universe, and the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled: "I will make you a great nation… You shall be for a blessing… All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you" (Genesis 12).

How fortunate we are that we are privileged to be returning to Eretz Yisrael and to Jerusalem. True, there are still difficulties and complications that characterize the end of the road, but we can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. The day is not far off when we will see clearly that Moses's request that G-d's Presence should not rest on the nations of he world thousands of years ago was for the good of mankind, and the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled: "Many peoples shall go and say: 'Come! Let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

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