Moshe Rabbenu isn’t in quarantine in this week’s parasha, but he seems at first to pull away from the people after chet ha-egel, pitching his tent outside of the Israelite encampment. God does, too, telling the people a malach, Divine messenger, will ultimately lead them into the land, and not the Shechina, Divine presence, itself.
At this point, the two of them, God and Moshe Rabbeinu, seem to grow increasingly intimate. The Torah even tells us that they speak “face to face as a man speaks to his fellow.”
At this moment of intimacy, Moshe calls out to God. What he first seeks is even greater intimacy, and reassurance.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל יְקֹוָק רְאֵה אַתָּה אֹמֵר אֵלַי הַעַל אֶת הָעָם הַזֶּה וְאַתָּה לֹא הוֹדַעְתַּנִי אֵת אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁלַח עִמִּי וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ יְדַעְתִּיךָ בְשֵׁם וְגַם מָצָאתָ חֵן בְּעֵינָי
Tell me who is coming with me, recognize me.
וְעַתָּה אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ הוֹדִעֵנִי נָא אֶת דְּרָכֶךָ
If you care for me, tell me your ways. Literally and metaphorically, where are we going?
וְאֵדָעֲךָ לְמַעַן אֶמְצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ
Let me know you to find favor in your eyes.
And then, there’s a surprise. Moshe uses this moment between him and God to restore intimacy between God and the Jewish people:
וּרְאֵה כִּי עַמְּךָ הַגּוֹי הַזֶּה
And it’s at that moment that God says: Sure, I’ll show you and lead you myself.
פָּנַי יֵלֵכוּ וַהֲנִחֹתִי לָךְ
To feel close to God is to be able to share our vulnerabilities with Him. At our toughest moments, no one else will do. But the ultimate reassurance and the greatest intimacy comes as a result of seeing ourselves and our relationship with God as part of the fabric of the Jewish people.
That’s why, right now, we need to lay out our fears to God in prayer. And that’s why, when we do it, we need to have more than just ourselves in mind. And it’s when we do that, that we have the best chance of having the Shechina in our midst.
At this time, even from afar, we need to draw closer as a community in service of God. To that end, Deracheha: Women and Mitzvot has launched whatsapp groups to share daily Torah. Join us here and let’s confront an uncertain time with Torah and faith.