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Shabbat Parashat Yitro 5780

Ein Ayah: Too High to be Connected to People on the Ground

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:120)

Gemara: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: That which it says, “The nation saw that Moshe was boshesh (late) [to come down from the mountain]” (Shemot 32:1), do not read it as boshesh but as ba shesh (the sixth hour came). At the time that Moshe went up to the Heavens, he said to Israel: “At the end of forty days, I am coming.” The Satan came and mixed up the world. He said to [Israel]: “Where is your master, Moshe?” They said to the Satan: “He went up to the Heavens.” The Satan said: “The sixth hour has come,” but they did not listen to him. [He said], “[Moshe] died,” but they did not listen to him. He showed them the image of a bed. It is based on this that they said to Aharon, “For it is Moshe, the man, who took us out of the Land of Egypt, we do not know what has been with him” (ibid.).   


Ein Ayah: Moshe had the task of connecting his sanctity to Israel to provide them enough sanctity to be the nation of Hashem and to separate them from the pollution of bad thoughts of idol worship. In order to do this, the people had to feel that Moshe was connected to them and held them in his soul, his desires, and his thoughts.   

Since Moshe was going up to the Heavens to have an intense personal interaction with Hashem, it was important to prepare in advance the connection with them. That is why it was important to set a time that was exact, up to the hour of the day he was planning to come – in the beginning of the sixth hour.

Actually, from Moshe’s perspective, there was no change or weakening of the connection between his soul and the people. However, since from the perspective of Israel, it was possible that some level of doubt could arise that the time had passed, the high level of connection was broken, on their side, to the sanctity of Moshe.

The passage of time was not enough, and the lie of the Satan that Moshe had died was also not enough to break the mental connection with Moshe, the trustworthy shepherd, and his sanctity. That is why the Satan then showed them an image of a bed. This was supposed to represent that Moshe had been separated from them by the elevation he received by his private audience with Hashem to the extent that his bed remained in the Heavens above. Under such circumstances, there was no longer a possibility for human beings, who dwell within the material world, to be connected to Moshe. This brought about a negative arousing of the spirit, which found expression with the complaint: “For it is Moshe, the man, who took us out of the Land of Egypt, we do not know what has been with him.”

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