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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5774

Ein Ayah: Go Down to the People

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:336)

Gemara: “Moshe would take the tent and erect it outside the camp … and Hashem would speak to Moshe face to face” (Shemot 33: 7,11). Some explain [the words “face to face” as Hashem saying the following to Moshe]: “Just as I presented the Torah to you with a pleasant countenance, so too you shall present it to Israel with a pleasant countenance. Therefore, return the tent to its place [in the midst of the encampment].”


Ein Ayah: When the Torah and wisdom in general are passed on from a great man to much simpler people who are under his influence, they have to be passed on to them according to the level of the recipients. Sometimes, though, the spiritual guide will arrange things so that those who receive the wisdom will have to elevate themselves above their normal level to receive it. In that way, it is the guide’s hope that this exercise will extricate the recipients from their low position. On the other hand, sometimes leadership decides that is necessary to lower the matter at hand to the level at which the recipients are, with the hope that they will later grow and will see spiritual success specifically because they were educated according to their approach and level.

Because Bnei Yisrael’s level deteriorated due to the events of the Golden Calf, Moshe distanced the Tent of Meeting from the encampment. This was symbolic of Moshe’s idea that the people needed to distance themselves from their state of deterioration and elevate themselves. Only then could they receive the spiritual influence of the Torah as it emerged from the Tent of Meeting, which was, at that point, above their level. In response to this action, Hashem said to Moshe that he was not employing the correct approach. Hashem pointed out that despite Moshe’s greatness and ability to grasp, Hashem had to lower Himself to Moshe’s level to teach him Torah. This is the proper general approach – the great matter must be brought to the level at which it is accessible to the people. This lowering is specifically what will enable eventual success in the efforts to raise the recipients to higher levels.

That is what Hashem meant by the fact that He presented the Torah with a pleasant countenance, lowering the Torah to Moshe’s level, which while higher than that of a normal human, was lower than Hashem’s. So too, Moshe should present the Torah to the people in a pleasant countenance, i.e., on a level that suits them. That is why Moshe was instructed to return the Tent of Meeting to the encampment, indicating that he should not try to force them to accept things beyond their level. The education of an entire nation must be done calmly and gradually. By getting used to the proper level at which they could receive the matters of sanctity, they could add to their level as time went on.

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