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(5734) Rashi (Ex.32:4): "And Moshe hastened"  


1. On the verse (Ex.34:8):

“And Moshe hastened, bowed his head to the ground and prostrated himself” (וַיְמַהֵר משֶׁה וַיִּקֹּד אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ)

Rashi cites the heading: “And Moshe hastened” and explains:

“When Moshe saw the Shechinah passing by and heard the voice of the proclamation, he immediately prostrated himself”. (וימהר משה: כשראה משה שכינה עוברת ושמע קול הקריאה, מיד וישתחו)

Seemingly there is room to say that Rashi comes to answer in his commentary (something like) the question of the Talmud (Sanh. 11a):

“What did Moshe see?” (i.e. that caused him to prostrate himself?) And the Talmud answers that he prostrated because he saw the Shechinah passing in front of him and he heard the voice of the proclamation”

However, in truth, it is impossible to say so, since:

1. In the simple understanding of the verse (Pshuto Shel Mikra) there is no question, at the very outset, why he prostrated, for before this, on the verse (Ex. 12:27):

“The people then bowed”

Rashi explains that it was

“For the foretelling of the redemption etc.”

In other words, for the good tidings, one has to give thanks – and in a manner of bowing and prostrating (קידה והשתחוואה).

Therefore, even in our case, when Moshe heard the “good tidings”, he needed to thank G-d for (all) of them.

2. Yet on the other hand, where does Rashi know this innovation, that one should prostrate (even) “When Moshe saw the Shechinah passing in front of him and he heard the voice of the proclamation”? – for perhaps the prostrating was just because of the good tidings that he heard. And if there is some necessity to say that he was not prostrating because of the good tidings – then it is not understood at all – why, indeed, did Moshe not prostrate because of them?

3. Rashi should have cited from the verse, as a heading, the words:

“bowed his head (kida) to the ground and prostrated himself” (וַיִּקֹּד אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ)

And not (the heading): “And Moshe hastened” (וַיְמַהֵר משֶׁה). For according to the aforementioned premise, the question is on those words (namely, why did he prostrate).

4. Why does Rashi emphasizes the word: “he immediately prostrated himself” (מיד וישתחו)?

According to this, one must say that Rashi is coming to answer a question that arises from the words: “And Moshe hastened” – namely, why did Moshe hasten to prostrate?

On this he answers that since ‘he saw the Shechinah passing“, in other words, he saw that the Shechinah was ready to pass (עומדת לעבור), and that he “heard the voice of the proclamation”, in other words, he already heard the entire calling (הקריאה) - he therefore immediately prostrated himself, with haste, in order to not delay from prostrating and thanking G-d.

However, even this explanation requires understanding:

1. From the onset, it is simple why Moshe hastened (even if it was just for the good tidings), for certainly, all of Moshe’s Avodah was with great alacrity (בזריזות), similar to Avraham, of whom it states: “Avraham hurried . .ran and hurried to prepare it.” And this is certainly so with Moshe since, after he was negligent (נתרשל), he was punished with the punishment of death.

2. The order was - that he heard the voice and then it passed. If so then Rashi should have stated it in the reverse order:

“When Moshe heard the voice of the proclamation (and afterward) saw the Shechinah passing in front of him (he immediately prostrated himself)”.

3. How is it possible to say that Moshe “saw (the Shechinah (etc.)”.  For it states that G-d previously said to him (verse 33:20-23)

"You will not be able to see My face . . when My glory passes by, . . I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by . . and you will see My back but My face shall not be seen."

(and we learned) that Moshe just saw the Shechinah after it had passed by him,

and even them he just saw the back ( and even then, just “the knot of the Tefilin”)

and not when the Shechinah was passing before him?

4. Rashi should have stated: “And he heard the proclamation” (״ושמע הקריאה״) – why does Rashi add the word: “The voice (of the proclamation)” (קול הקריאה)?

5. Rashi states: “immediately prostrated himself”. However, before the prostrating (״וישתחו״) there was bowing/kida (קידה) as it states that Moshe: “bowed his head to the ground”. If so, Rashi should have stated:

“he immediately bowed (kida) and prostrated himself” or ““he immediately bowed”?

2. The explanation of all this is:

One cannot say that Rashi’s question is why Moshe hastened, for as aforementioned, it is understood that Moshe performed all his duties with alacrity. And certainly even this prostrating to G-d was with haste and alacrity. However, this is difficult for Rashi. For on the contrary, why does the Torah need to explain here, that he hastened to prostrate because of the good tidings? This is understood of its own accord?

Therefore Rashi explains that the prostrating, that is spoken of here, was not after all the speech – a prostrating on the good tidings, as it appears, seemingly, from the simple understanding of the verses - but rather, that Moshe hastened to prostrate before the proclamation, immediately when Moshe “saw the Shechinah passing by” which means - when the Shechinah began to pass and he “heard the voice of the proclamation. In other words, as soon as he heard the voice of G-d, even before he heard the proclamation itself - he “immediately prostrated himself”.

And Rashi prefaces this by stating: “When Moshe saw the Shechinah passing by”. For with this, it is explained why, specifically here, Moshe preceded to bow,

even though we do not find that Moshe bowed before other proclamations –

for this proclamation and sound was one of a kind (יחיד במינו) - “the Shechinah passing by” here was the fulfillment of Moshe’s request: “"Show me, now, Your glory!". And it is simple that when one sees a king, that one must bow before him immediately, when one first sees his face.

(The Torah does concern itself here, regarding the prostrating of thanks for the good tidings, which must take place after the good tidings, for it is understood by itself that Moshe would give thanks for the good tidings. Therefore, in many of the verses that have the subject of good tidings that were announced – it does not explain the prostrating).

3. According to the aforementioned that the explanation that: “(saw) the Shechinah passing by” means that when it began to pass, one can explain how it is possible for Moshe to “see” the Shechinah etc.

The verse precisely states:

“And it shall be that when My glory passes by”

(and as Rashi explains “When I pass by before you”), which means at the moment of the passing ,

then there is no permission (and ability ) to see. However, at the beginning of the Shechinah‘s coming – it is possible to see,

And this is not a contradiction to G-d‘s statement: "You will not be able to see My face” – for seeing the Shechinah passing by (and no more) is not seeing the face of G-d,

And even the aspect of “and you will see My back”- is even more than this, as is proven from the simple understanding of the verses that – seeing My back – was an innovation and fulfillment of the request that came after the proclamation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy etc.

but this is a general glancing (seeing). Therefore, “When Moshe saw the Shechinah passing by” –

meaning at the first glance, immediately when he saw the Shechinah coming,

he immediately prostrated.

According to this, one could add that

(Even though the main intent of the verse of: “And Moshe hastened” is to tell us that Moshe prostrated before G-d’s proclamation,)

there is also included in this, also hastening, literally ( i.e. that the prostrating was with great haste). And without the verse telling us, we would not know of such a hastening as this (even though Moshe performed all his affairs with alacrity, as aforementioned).

It is understood that the manner and level of prostrating to a king when one sees him, “as he is” is incomparable to the bitul that one has when one sees him when he is disguised (מתחפש), hidden in another image, or when one does not see him but one knows that he is there. Therefore, immediately when Moshe saw the Shechinah “as it is” – he hastened, before, the end of the passing to prostrate – in the highest form (of prostrating), (over that of his normal alacrity).

4. Accordingly, one can why Rashi stated “he immediately prostrated himself” (״מיד וישתחו״) and not “he immediately bowed (his head to the ground and prostrated himself)” (״מיד ויקד (ארצה וישתחו)״):

On the verse (Gen. 43:28): “They bowed their heads and prostrated themselves” (״ויקדו וישתחוו״), Rashi states:

“‘Bowing/kida’ refers to the bowing of the head (״קידה כפיפת קדקד), ‘prostrating/ Hishtachava’ah’ refers to prostration upon the ground.” – “spreading one’s hand and feet” (״פישוט ידים ורג­לים״), not like the translation of the Targum “bowing” (״וכרעו״) - for ‘Bowing/kida’ means that one bows on one’s knees (שכורע על ברכיו).

Accordingly, even though it is possible to have the bowing of the head (“kida”) without prostrating (Hishtachava’ah’) - it is impossible to ‘prostrate’ without bowing of the head first.

(However, there is a possibility to do so – without bending the knees).

According to this, it is understood that in a place where both of them are mentioned (like in out Parsha – bowing and prostrating (״ויקד״ ״וישתחו״) – The intent is not to inform us that the bowing/kida came as an introduction to the prostrating/ Hishtachava’ah

(for what is the innovation of this? It is impossible for it to be in any other way)

but – that it is an independent aspect – giving honor by not only sufficing with bowing/kida, but rather, afterward adding honor by prostrating/ Hishtachava’ah – spreading one’s hands and feet.

And Rashi emphasizes this by skipping the aspect of bowing/kida, meaning that Moshe hastened so much so, that it was as if there was no bowing/kida (an independent aspect) but rather just “he immediately - prostrated himself” (״מיד וישתחו״).

And this is Rashi’s intent by adding “he immediately (prostrated himself)” (״מיד וישתחו״) –

even though the word “hasten” (״וימהר״) simply means ‘immediately” and it could have stated that “Moshe saw . . the proclamation and prostrated himself” (without the word ”immediately”),

because he wants to emphasize that he immediately prostrated himself (as if there was no bowing/kida (ויקד ארצה).

5. From the homiletic style of Torah in Rashi‘s commentary here (Yayina shel Torah):

According to the aforementioned, it is understood why Rashi, specifically writes the word “Shechinah“ and not another name:

It is explained in Tanya the Shechinah is called so “because it dwells and clothes itself in all worlds”. In our case Moshe wanted to prostrate himself, when he saw the Shechinah before it passed by, therefore it mentions a name that depicts dwelling in all the worlds - the “Shechinah”.

m'Sichas Shabbat Parshat Tisa 5729

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