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A Different Perspective

By: Mrs. Sepha Sheinbein

The Torah portion that we read on Shabbat chol hamoed is one of the more well-known dialogues between Moshe Rabbeinu and G-d. In Shemot 32:12, Moshe asks Hashem: "Hareini na et kevodech" “Show me Your glory.” But what exactly is Moshe asking? What is he hoping to “see?” There are obviously many different answers given to this question. One of which is in the Gemara Brachot. There, Chazal explain that Moshe was asking the question of "Tzadik v'ra lo, rasha v'tov lo"   "Why bad things happen to good people". Moshe was asking to understand G-d’s decisions.

When understood in this way I think it’s fair to say we are all eager to hear Hashem’s response. I would assume if there was anyone that Hashem would tell the answer to it would be Moshe. So we quickly skim ahead in the text to get the answer and we find in 33:20   we read: "Lo tuchal lir'ot et panai ki lo yira'eni ha'adam vechai"  “You can't see My face, because Humans can’t see my face and live.” Again there are multiple interpretations for this verse, many of which I think all of us can extrapolate on our own from the literal translation. But there is one answer that has always resonated the most with me and personally helps me bridge the intensity of the Yamim Noraim to the fun filled exciting Chag of Sukkot.

The Chatam Sofer explains that a few pesukim later Hashem says: " V'ra'ita et achorai v'panai lo yira'u"   “You will see My back and My face you will not see.” The Chatam Sofer explains that Hashem is saying to Moshe that "achorai" is also “the end.” Meaning that while a person is alive he will never be able to understand G-d or His choices but in the “end”, after death, we will be able to understand. I heard this answer explained even further through the example of a needle point.      

If someone were to see the back of a needle point picture all they would see would be tons of random strings all over the place, many knots and nothing of obvious beauty. But if we were to turn the piece over, all of a sudden we would be able to see the neat, meticulous beauty of how each piece of string created this magnificent work of art. Hashem was explaining that Humans only have the perspective of the “back of a needle point” in this word. Many things look like a mess to us of ugly knots and haphazard strings. But from the other side of the world, G-ds side, it a beautiful piece of art.         

During the Yamim Noraim we are full of intensity of prayer and reflection of all the things that happened over the course of this past year. This often creates fear and heightened emotions especially as we read the tefilla "U'netaneh tokef" and are reminded of our, and all our loved ones mortality. But we immediately transition into building and decorating our sukkot with excitement and joy. And for me, personally, this is a hard transition. I’m not always sure how to channel all the intensity I had been feeling and how to approach the upcoming year.       

For me the answer is in these pesukim. Hashem is telling me that He has heard my tefillot. He may not say yes to all of them but it doesn’t mean its “bad.” It means that He has a different perspective on the world than Humans; one in which we will never be able to understand from our side of the needle point. This, for me, transitions into walking into my sukkah. The sukkah resembles Hashem’s protection in the midbar as a reminder that He is taking care of us all and that gives me a sense of peace and love as I enter into the New Year.        

May Hashem bless us all this year, and every year, with peace, love, growth, success, health, and a feeling that everything in our lives is clearly for our good.  

Shana Tova!





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