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(5742) Rashi (Ex.33:23): "and you will see My back" And Zohar (190a) concerning the making of knots as a remembrance

Zohar (190a)
Rabbi Yosi said: Blessed is this path that we merited that interpretation. He said to him: From whom did you hear it? He said to him: One day, I was walking on the road and I heard and saw Rav Hamnuna Saba expounding upon this passage for Rabbi Acha. When I heard it, I rejoiced over it and kept it bound in the corner of my garment so that it should never leave me. He said: Certainly, this holy subject was illuminated by the holy luminary. Blessed is the generation that preserves the world, which pillars dwell in it. And if you tie this interpretation with a knot, so that it shall not leave you, I will tie it with thirty or forty knots in my pocket, so that it shall never leave me.  


Chumash and Rashi:

Verse 18: He (Moshe) then said "Please grant me a vision of Your Glory."

Moshe saw that it was a favorable moment and that his words were finding acceptance. So he made an additional request to be shown a vision of His Glory.

 Verse 19: He (G-d) said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass, etc."
I.e., "The time has come for you to see of My Glory, that which I will allow you to see, because I want and need to teach you the order of prayer. For, when you needed to ask for mercy for the Israelites, You reminded Me of the merit of the Patriarchs. You thought that were the merit of the Patriarchs to be exhausted there would no longer be any hope. I will, therefore, cause to pass all the attributes of My goodness before you on the rock while you are concealed in the cave.
And will proclaim the Name, Ad-noy, in your presence---
so as to teach you the order of asking for mercy even if the merit of the Patriarchs is exhausted. And in this order that you see Me, "wrapped in a tallis" while proclaiming "the thirteen attributes,"teach Yisrael to do likewise. And by mentioning before Me My attributes "Merciful One! Gracious One" they will be answered, for My mercies are never exhausted.
I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.
I.e., those times that I will wish to be gracious.
And I will be compassionate---
those times that I will wish to be compassionate. Up to this point He only promised him that "at times I will respond, at times I will not respond." But at that time when He actually proclaimed His attributes, He said to him: "Behold, I establish a covenant,"thus promising him that once the Attributes are invoked they will never return unanswered (lit. empty).
Verse 20: And He said, "You cannot," etc.
Even when I cause all My goodness to pass before you, I shall not permit you to see My Presence.
Verse 21: "Behold, there is a place with Me."
In the mountain, where I constantly speak with you, I have a place prepared for your needs, where I will conceal you so that you will not be hurt, and from there you will see what you may see. That is the plain explanation. However, its midrashic explanation is that %22a place%22 refers to the place where the Shechinah is and He, therefore, says: "The place is with Me" and He does not say: "I am in the place," for G-d is "the place of the world" but the world is not "His place."
Verse 22: When My Glory passes by.
Meaning: When I pass by you.
In a cleft of the rock.
The word expresses the idea of a hole as in: "Will you bore out the eyes of those men?" or: "The ravens of the valley (  ) will bore it out" or: "I have dug and drunk water;" They all have a common root. Therefore it means "a place dug out in the rock."
And I will cover you with My Hand.
From here it may be derived permission is given to destroyers to destroy. Onkelos translates it (i.e.,  ) - - "I will protect you with My word." This is a euphemism as a way of explaining respectfulness towards the One on High, Who, obviously does not need to cover him actually, with His Hand.
Verse 23: Then I will remove My Hand.
Onkelos translates it:  -  "I shall remove the guidance of My Glory," Meaning: "When I remove the guidance of My Glory from before your face"--- to go away from there then -
you will see My Back.
He showed him the Tefillin-knot behind the head. (Berachos 7a)

In this week’s Parsha it is told, that Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem: “Show me, now, Your glory!", and G-d answered him: "You will not be able to see My face, for man shall not see Me etc you will see My back but My face shall not be seen."
Rashi comments on the words “you will see My back.”and states: “He showed him the Tefillin-knot behind the Head.”
The aspect of Rashi’s commentary on Torah is to explain the simple meaning of the verse.
We must understand:
What is difficult here that, because of it, Rashi needs to explain that “My Back.” refers to the Tefillin-knot?
We cannot answer that it is because Rashi has a difficulty –how can one apply the term: “My back” to G-d (since G-d is devoid of any form (anthropomorphism))? – since we find that the Torah mentions (even physical) descriptions many times in reference to G-d.
And we do not find that Rashi stops and explains that
(Since it is not applicable to use such description toward G-d, therefore, the explanation not according to the simple meaning, but)
the explanation is such and such:
And as we see in this topic itself:
Previously it states: “"You will not be able to see My face” and Rashi does not stop and explain the meaning of “My face”, in G-dly terms; We must, therefore, say that this is not one of things that Rashi bothers himself with in his commentary on Torah.
Why then, does Rashi stop here and translate what is: “My back”?
The question is even stronger.
If this bothers Rashi in the verse
(i.e. That how could one apply the term: “My back” towards G-d)
how does his answer: “He showed him the Tefillin-knot” resolve the issue?
The “Tefillin-knot” which is being used as an metaphor to the “Back” of G-d (as it is explained in the commentaries” is also a physical object –
What “prevents” Rashi from explaining to a five year old, that “My back” is non literal
(since physical descriptions are not relevant towards G-d)
instead of explaining that it refers to the Tefillin-knot?!
On the contrary,
If we need to find a metaphor for a five year old for the “My back” of G-d – one could use the metaphor “face” and “back” by a human
 [his face is that place where one clearly sees the advantage of man – his senses: sight , hearing etc. Whereas the back of a person where one does not see the advantage of man and – and applies in general to man)
which is much easier to understand than the metaphor of the Tefillin-knot. – and specifically since the same descriptions (words) are in the metaphor and subject.
We also must understand the wording of Rashi:.
Why does he also cite in the title the word “and you will see” and he states it also in the body of his comment: “He showed him the knot etc”. Rashi is only innovating regarding the word “My back”. He therefore should have written concisely: “My back”, “The knot of Tefillin”!
2. The explanation is:
Before G-d answered Moshe
(on his request: "Show me, now, Your glory!")
 [that] "You will not be able to see My face”, the verse states (19): “I will let all My goodness pass before you; I will proclaim the name of the L-rd before you, and I will favor etc”
And only afterwards comes the statement: “You will not be able to see etc”
What connection does the first verse have to Moshe’s request: "Show me, now, Your glory”?
Rashi explains (19): “He (G-d) said, "The time has come for you to see of My Glory, that which I will allow you to see, because I want and need to teach you the order of prayer… . I will cause to pass all the attributes of My goodness before you on the rock . . And will proclaim the Name, HaShem, in your presence--- so as to teach you the order of asking for mercy . . And in this order that you see Me, "wrapped in a Talis" while proclaiming "the thirteen attributes," teach Yisroel to do likewise”
And following this was the second statement (20): “You will not be able to see etc” -
“Even when I cause all My goodness to pass before you, I shall not permit you to see My Presence”
It follows then that: “You will not be able to see etc” is not a separate thing, but a continuation of: “I will cause all My goodness to pass, etc." – that the sight that Moshe will see of G-d: “"wrapped in a Talis" while proclaiming” will be manifested and presented in a way that : “you will see My Back.”
3. According to this it is not understood what the verse means by: “you will see My Back.”.
Since G-d appeared to Moshe (like a prayer leader who is) “"wrapped” in a Talis and Moshe’s seeing is only
 (after the “passing” and therefore)
from the “back” - what kind of aspect of “You will see My glory”
   (at least in a manner of “you will see My Back”)
was this?
When one is “wrapped” in a Talis and one looks at him from the back, the Talis covers the one enwrapped in it?
When a Talis needs to be specially made of expensive materials -
   like the high priest’s vestments which were made for “glory and honor”
one could (possibly) say that seeing his glory, the way he is wrapped in a Talis, is a vision of His glory (may He be blessed) (since the Talis is made for “glory and honor”)
But we do not find a condition that a Talis must specifically be made from expensive materials
On the contrary, - the custom of Yisroel, which is has the same standing as Torah is that the Talis of a prayer leader is made from plain wool. And specifically according to the commentators of the word Talis in the sayings of the sages, such as in “two holding a Talis” first Mishneh of Talmud Bava Metziah and in the sayings of the sages, in general, - it connotes garment.
Therefore Rashi answers:“He showed himthe knot etc”. The “you will see me "wrapped” means
(not just in a Talis, but)
also with Tefillin.
As a five year old knows, sometimes a prayer leader is wrapped only in a Talis (like on Shabbat and Yom Tov) and sometimes in a Talis and Tefillin – And Moshe saw the “knot of the Tefillin” whose place is in the back behind the head (of a person).
And therefore, Rashi must stress that:: “He showed him the Tefillin-knot”. Because since G-d showed Himself to Moshe “wrapped” – the Tefillin-knot is covered by the Talis, how then could Moshe see the “knot”?
Rashi, thus prevents this difficulty by explaining that “He showed him the Tefillin-knot” – G-d (as it were uncovered the Talis in this place and) showed Moshe the knot.
And Rashi does not need to explain how G-d’s glory is seen by seeing the “Tefillin” (of G-d). Because a five year old sees this himself.
We see that the Head Tefillin are placed on the head like a crown which surrounds the head. And therefore they are a symbol of “glory and honor”
And therefore, Rashi is specific in stating that: “He showed him the Tefillin-knot”.
-          and not the straps (even though the straps hang down from the Tefillin-knot and are longer, and therefore – can be seen more readily than the knot – as we see plainly, on a physical person, that the Tefillin-knot can sometimes be covered by the yarmulkah, as opposed to the straps which hang down
because the reason that the head Tefillin are like a wreath and crown (thus an aspect of glory) is due to the knot which accomplishes that the (straps of the) Tefillin are held in place and attached to the head.
4. One must, however, understand it in pnimiyut
Since the fulfillment of the request “Show me, now, Your glory!" – albeit in a manner of: "You will not be able to see My face” – came together, in the same time, that G-d taught Moshe the “order of prayer” of saying the thirteen attributes of Mercy
-          it certainly is not an ancillary thing - that while teaching Moshe the “the order of asking for mercy”, G-d allowed him to see His glory in a level of My back –
but it must be an main aspect of the learning of “the order of asking for mercy”. In order that the “the order of asking for mercy” be complete, there needed to be together with it the “you will see My Back.” - “He showed him the Tefillin-knot”.
Once can understand this by prefacing an explanation why the “order of prayer” was in a manner of: “that you see Me, "wrapped in a Talis" while proclaiming "the thirteen attributes”, for it is not understood.
The (main) aspect of prayer is saying the thirteen attributes of Mercy, because they effect the “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” and “I will be compassionate” –
What does it matter that they specifically be said while “wrapped” in a Talis?
5. One could say that one of the explanations is:
The general aspect of sin –
which, because of it, one prays and arouses mercy so that one is not punished for the sin -
stems from “forgetfulness
(Shichcha) (and, in general “forgetfulness” stems from Klipah)
However, regarding holiness, “there is no forgetfulness before Your throne of glory”
Yiden are believers the children of believers. Every Yid truly believes that “in the beginning - G-d created” the heavens and the earth and all the creations, and G-d renews with His goodness, constantly, every day the works of creation” – every day and every moment and G-d re-creates the entire creation, from complete void and nothingness mamosh – and as the Alter Rebbe continues in Tanya – “Really, just like the six days of Creation”
The question arises:
When a Yid feels (derhert) that in every moment he is just now newly being created by –G-d, and that in the next moment, he will have to rely on the “word of G-d” to renew his existence from nothingness to reality (yesh) – how is it possible that the Yid
(even if he is , G-d forbid, the greatest Ba'al taavah (one overcome by his desires))
not obey G-d
(not just in order to fulfill his desires), but
because his entire existence depends on Him.- together with his desires – in that very moment?
And even when it appears to him that there are many obstacles and barriers which thwart him from serving G-d –
He realizes that, as a believer child of a believer, with complete certainty, that even the things that hinder him are also newly (just) created by G-d from utter nothingness and void “like before the six days of Creation, really”
and therefore he can not delude himself that they are (truthfully) the opposite of G-d’s will!
how can they (truthfully) be a hindrance to Yiddishkeit, to that which G-d wants, when they were just created by G-d Himself?
And if so, how is it possible to find a Yid who conducts himself differently from that which his clear rationale mandates? -
The answer to this is:
He actually knows but at that moment he forgets.
When his aspect of memory is sound, all obstacles which oppose this are automatically nullified and one keeps Torah and Mitzvot completely. So much so, that - “All his actions are for the sake of Heaven” and “In all your paths you shall know Him” (bechol derachecha da'eihu), and he does not experience any “extraneous thoughts” at all.
And this is the reason that while saying the Thirteen Middos one must be wrapped
        in a Talis and (according to the way Rashi explains, also) Tefillin -,
because the subject of these two Mitzvot is connected with the aspect of remembrance:
“You shall see them and remember” (Talis, Tzitzis) , “And they shall be etc a remembrance between your eyes” (Tefillin). And therefore they are related to rectification and uprooting of sin which, in turn brings “grace” and “mercy”
6. Accordingly, one can also understand the connection from (He showed him) the
Tefillin-knot, - specifically a knot – for the “order of asking for mercy”
In Zohar from this week’s Parsha, it is told that R’ Chiya and R’ Yose made “knots” in order to not forget the words of Torah that they heard.
The connection of “knots” to the aspect of “remembrance” could be explained according to that which is cited in Iggeret HaTeshuvah in the explanation of the saying of the sages:
"A man commits a sin and is liable to death before Al-mighty (for the above-mentioned sin carries with it the punishment of death by Divine agency); what shall he do and live?
If he was accustomed to studying one page of Written Law, let him study two; [if he was accustomed to studying one chapter [of the Oral Law], let his study two chapters….]"
-          This resembles the analogy of a rope that is severed and then reknotted that the site of the knot is twofold and fourfold thicker than the rest of the rope.”
This means that the aspect of a “knot” spiritually is when ties oneself to a thing very durably and strongly, so much so that it is “twofold and fourfold thicker”, so that, through it, it becomes a rectification for sins. For when one ties oneself with holiness in a manner of a “knot”, forgetfulness is not applicable (which is the cause of sins, as above)
And from the way this aspect is in spirituality,
        that a spiritual “knot” nullifies the connection to Klipah (the source of
 forgetfulness) –
it descends also into physicality, so that making a physical knot, plainly helps to nullify his forgetfulness.
7. And this is also the connection from
(“and you will see My back.”)
 “He showed him the Tefillin-knot.” to the “order of asking for mercy”:
When G-d taught Moshe the “order of asking for mercy” (which effects rectification of sin) he “showed him” the primary aspect of rectifying sin which is attained by the analogy of “Tefillin-knot” – a strong attachment (knot) and remembering of Tefillin
(of holiness etc) and specifically that everything is re-created, by G-d, every moment.
And by precluding oneself from forgetfulness - through a proper remembrance in all aspects of holiness and Yiddishkeit – we will soon merit the fulfillment of the prophecy
“And the glory of G-d shall be revealed and all flesh shall see together, for the mouth of the L-rd hath spoken it.’
We will not need to rely on an aspect of “remembering” because we will see with our eyes how the whole of creation (“all flesh”) is created every moment by the “the L-rd hath spoken it.” From utter nothingness and void, mamosh
With the coming of our righteous Moshiach, may he come and redeem us and carry us upright to our Land, speedily in our days, mamosh.
(m’Sichas Motzai Shabbat Parshat Tisa 5739)

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