Parsha Ki Tisa

Rabbi :
I read the article “Who Wrote the Ten Commandments” By Benjamin D. Sommer, which you linked on Shikul Da’at:

As I understand this “apparent” dichotomy; HaShem wrote the Ten Sayings on the “blank tablets” (which Moshe “shaped” from raw stone) with His “finger” as a guide for each “Saying” and then Moshe carved (chiseled) each and every “Saying” into the surface of the Tablets. Thus, there is no contradiction between 34.1 and 34.28. Both did the “writing” – while in the second case of the Luchot, only Moshe did the “carving,” engraving, or chiseling of the “Ten Sayings” – a little imagery is necessary to explain why Moshe had to spend 40 days and nights on Har Sinai a second time….
HaShem was Moshe’s Teacher (Moreeh) patiently waiting while he carved each saying and again explained the Oral Torah (“she ba’al peh” which was written on the first set of tablets).

Shema Yisrael Torah Network –

“Horav Aharon Soloveitchik, zl, explains that one can acquire something in one of two methods: kibbush and chazakah. With respect to taking possession, kibbush refers to acquisition through the medium of brute force – such as a war. Chazakah refers to acquiring something slowly, meticulously, through the peaceful process of cultivation. Concerning educational knowledge, kibbush is manifest in the approach whereby a student is overwhelmed by a multiplicity of data all being taught at once, whereas chazakah is embodied by a slow, systematic process of teaching one thing at a time, allowing it to “settle” and then build on it.”

HaShem did the “pointing” and Moshe did the “writing” ….

Shabbat Shalom,

Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham

Beshalach: This is My God

Rav Kook Torah

Beshalach: This is My God


The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 23:15) makes a startling claim about the Israelites who witnessed the splitting of the Red Sea:

“Come and see how great were those who crossed the Sea. Moses pleaded and beseeched before God that he should merit seeing God’s Divine Image, ‘Please, show me Your glory!’ (Ex. 33:19). Yet God told him, ‘You may not see My face….’ But every Israelite who descended into the Sea pointed with his finger and said, “This is my God and I will glorify Him” (Ex. 15:2).

Could it be that those who crossed the Red Sea saw more than Moses, about whom the Torah testifies, “No other prophet like Moses has arisen in Israel” (Deut. 34:10)? Furthermore, Moses was also there when they crossed the sea — he certainly saw what everyone else experienced!

Total Suspension of Nature

Clearly, the Midrash cannot be referring to the level of prophecy, for it is a fundamental article of faith that Moses’ prophecy was unparalleled. Rather, the Midrash must be referring to some aspect of prophetic vision that was only experienced by those who participated in this miraculous crossing.

What was so special about the splitting of the Red Sea? God performed other miracles for Israel, but those miracles did not entail the complete abrogation of the laws of nature. Nature as a whole continued on its usual path; God only temporarily changed one aspect for the benefit of His people.

But with the miraculous splitting of the Sea, God suspended the entire system of natural law. The Sages wrote that this miracle did not occur solely in the Red Sea. On that night, bodies of water all over the world were split. According to the Maharal, Rabbi Yehudah Loew of Prague, water symbolizes the physical world, so that this miracle affected the entire physical realm of creation (Gevurot Hashem, chap. 42). The entire rule of nature was breached.

Immediate Awareness of God’s Rule

Our world is governed by the framework of cause and effect. When the underlying rule of nature was suspended during the splitting of the Red Sea, the entire system of causality was arrested. During that time, the universe lost its cloak of natural law, and revealed itself as a pure expression of divine will.

What is the essence of prophecy? This unique gift is the ability to look at God’s works and recognize in them His greatness.

As long as nature’s causal structure is functioning, a prophet may attain sublime and even esoteric knowledge, but he will never achieve immediate awareness of God’s directing hand. Through his physical senses and powers of reasoning, the prophet will initially recognize the natural system of cause and effect. Only afterwards does the prophet become aware that the entire universe is created and directed by an ultimate Cause.

At Mount Sinai, God told Moses, “You will only see My back.” What is God’s ‘back’? Maimonides explained that this is a metaphor for the system of natural law by which God governs the universe. God granted Moses an awareness of the inner connectivity within creation. This understanding of God’s true nature exceeded that of any other prophet.

When God split the Sea, all laws of nature were temporarily suspended. God took “direct control” of the universe. Those witnessing this miracle were instantly aware of God’s intervention and providence, each according to his spiritual level. Certainly none reached the prophetic level of Moses. But whatever enlightenment they attained, it was perceived immediately. They did not need to first examine the natural system of causality, and from this, recognize the prime Cause of creation.

Therefore, those experiencing the miracle of the Red Sea called out spontaneously, “THIS is my God.” Their comprehension was not obscured by the logical system of cause and effect; they witnessed God’s revealed rule directly, without the cloak of causality.

(Gold from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 353-357)

Parsha Shmoth – “Strive to be a Man”


Shmoth (Exodus) 2.12 “He turned this way and that way, and he saw that there was no man; so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”

In the Mishna, Hillel declares, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” This is usually taken to mean that when other people are acting in an indifferent or cowardly fashion, one should stand up and be a mature, courageous human being.

Listen to Tablet Magazine Parsha in Progress Episode 7: The Leadership of Moses

podcast hosted by Abigail Pogrebin. author of ‘My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew,’ and Rabbi Dov Linzer, head of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.


This Week’s Parsha: Shmoth – “Now you will see….”


Shmoth 5.2 “And Pharaoh said: ‘Who is the L-RD, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not the L-RD, and moreover I will not let Israel go.’

Shmoth 6.1″And the L-RD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a mighty hand he will send them out, and with a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.””

RASHI: Now you will see, etc.: You have questioned My ways [of running the world, which is] unlike Abraham, to whom I said, “For in Isaac will be called your seed” (Gen. 21:12), and afterwards I said to him, “Bring him up there for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2), yet he did not question Me. Therefore, now you will see. What is done to Pharaoh you will see, but not what is done to the kings of the seven nations when I bring them [the children of Israel] into the land [of Israel]. — [from Sanh. 111a]

Sanhedrin 111a

It has been taught: R. Eleazar son of R. Jose said: I once visited Alexandria of Egypt and found an old man there, who said to me, ‘Come, and I will shew thee what my ancestors did to thine: some of them they drowned in the sea, some they slew by the sword, and some they crushed in the buildings.’22  And for this Moses was punished,23  as it is said, For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people,’ neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.24  Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, ‘Alas for those who are gone and no more to be found! For how many times did I reveal Myself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name of El Shaddai,25  and they did not question my character,26  nor say to Me, What is Thy name? I said to Abraham, Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it,’ for I will give it unto thee:27  yet when he sought a place to bury Sarah, he did not find one, but had to purchase it for four hundred silver shekels; and still he did not question My character. I said to Isaac, Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee:28  yet his servants sought water to drink, and did not find it without its being disputed, as it is said, And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen saying, The water is our’s;29  still he did not question My character. I said to Jacob, The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed:30  yet he sought a place to pitch his tent and did not find one until he purchased it for an hundred kesitah;31  nevertheless he did not question My character; nor did they say to me, What is Thy name?32  And now thou sayest to Me, Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all. [Therefore] Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh:33  thou shalt behold the war against Pharaoh, but not the war against the thirty one kings.’34

Note 32 The emphasis laid here upon the name of God, the virtue ascribed to the Patriarchs for refraining to ask it, and the reproach that Moses had wished to know it, are due to the fact that God’s name was regarded as more than a mere title of distinction. It represented His character, His Attributes, and the relationship in which He stood to His people. Consequently, to refrain from asking after God’s name was the equivalent of displaying complete confidence in Him, without examining his character closely to see whether His promises were reliable; whilst to ask it was to betray a lack of confidence.