Exodus Chapter 33

17And the Lord said to Moses: "Even this thing that you have spoken, I will do, for you have found favor in My eyes, and I have known you by name."   יזוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה גַּ֣ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּ֛ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתָּ אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֑ה כִּֽי־מָצָ֤אתָ חֵן֙ בְּעֵינַ֔י וָֽאֵדָֽעֲךָ֖ בְּשֵֽׁם:
Even this thing: [namely] that My Shechinah should no longer rest upon heathens, I will do. Balaam’s [i.e., the gentile prophet] words did not come about through the resting of the Shechinah [on him], but [his prophecy would occur when] he would “fall and his eyes would be unveiled” (Num. 24:4); such as “Now a word was conveyed secretly to me” (Job 4:12). They [these heathen prophets] would hear [the prophecy] through a messenger.   גַּם אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה: שֶׁלֹּא תִשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָתִי עוֹד עַל אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם אעשה, וְאֵין דְּבָרָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם עַל יְדֵי שְׁרִיַּת הַשְּׁכִינָה, אֶלָּא "נוֹפֵל וּגְלוּי עֵינָיִם" כְּגוֹן וְאֵלַי דָּבָר יְגֻנָּב (איוב ד') – שׁוֹמְעִין עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ:
18And he said: "Show me, now, Your glory!"   יחוַיֹּאמַ֑ר הַרְאֵ֥נִי נָ֖א אֶת־כְּבֹדֶֽךָ:
And he said: “Show me, now, Your glory!”: Moses perceived that it was a time of [God’s] good will, and his words were accepted, so he continued to ask that He show him the appearance of His glory.   וַיֹּאמַר הַרְאֵנִי נָא אֶת־כְּבֹדֶֽךָ: רָאָה מֹשֶׁה שֶׁהָיָה עֵת רָצוֹן וּדְבָרָיו מְקֻבָּלִים, וְהוֹסִיף לִשְׁאֹל לְהַרְאוֹתוֹ מַרְאִית כְּבוֹדוֹ:
19He said: "I will let all My goodness pass before you; I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you, and I will favor when I wish to favor, and I will have compassion when I wish to have compassion."   יטוַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִ֨י אַֽעֲבִ֤יר כָּל־טוּבִי֙ עַל־פָּנֶ֔יךָ וְקָרָ֧אתִי בְשֵׁ֛ם יְהֹוָ֖ה לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וְחַנֹּתִי֙ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָחֹ֔ן וְרִֽחַמְתִּ֖י אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲרַחֵֽם:
He said: “I will let… pass before you”: The time has come that you shall see some of My glory that I will permit you to see, because I want and I need to teach you the order of prayer. Because when you had to beg mercy for Israel, you begged Me to remember the merit of the Patriarchs. You think that if the merit of the Patriarchs is depleted, there is no longer any hope. I will [therefore] let all the attribute of My goodness pass before you while you are hidden in a cave.   וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי אַֽעֲבִיר וגו': הִגִּיעָה שָׁעָה שֶׁתִּרְאֶה בִּכְבוֹדִי מַה שֶּׁאַרְשֶׁה אוֹתְךָ לִרְאוֹת, לְפִי שֶׁאֲנִי רוֹצֶה וְצָרִיךְ לְלַמֶּדְךָ סֵדֶר תְּפִלָּה; שֶׁכְּשֶׁנִּצְרַכְתָּ לְבַקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל הִזְכַּרְתָּ לִי זְכוּת אָבוֹת, כְּסָבוּר אַתָּה שֶׁאִם תַּמָּה זְכוּת אָבוֹת אֵין עוֹד תִּקְוָה, אֲנִי אַעֲבִיר כָּל מִדַּת טוּבִי לְפָנֶיךָ עַל הַצּוּר וְאַתָּה נָתוּן בַּמְּעָרָה:
I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you: to teach you the procedure for begging for compassion [i.e., praying] even if the merit of the Patriarchs is depleted. According to this procedure, [during] which you [will] see Me enwrapped [see commentary on Exod. 34:6] and proclaiming the Thirteen Attributes, teach the Israelites to do likewise. Through their mentioning before Me [the words] “Compassionate and gracious,” they will be answered, for My compassion never ends. -[from Rosh Hashanah 17b]   וְקָרָאתִי בְשֵׁם ה' לְפָנֶיךָ: לְלַמֶּדְךָ סֵדֶר בַּקָּשַׁת רַחֲמִים אַף אִם תִּכְלֶה זְכוּת אָבוֹת, וְכַסֵּדֶר זֶה שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה אוֹתִי – מְעֻטָּף וְקוֹרֵא י"ג מִדּוֹת – הֱוֵי מְלַמֵּד אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן, וְעַל יְדֵי שֶׁיַּזְכִּירוּ לְפָנַי "רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן" יִהְיוּ נַעֲנִין – כִּי רַחֲמַי לֹא כָלִים:
and I will favor when I wish to favor: [At] those times that I will want to [show] favor.   וְחַנֹּתִי אֶת־אֲשֶׁר אחון: אוֹתָן פְּעָמִים שֶׁאֶרְצֶה לָחֹן:
and I will have compassion: At the time I will want to have compassion. Until this point, He promised him [Moses] only that “at times I will answer, and at times I will not answer.” At the time of the deed [when God revealed to Moses the Thirteen Attributes], however, He said to him, “Behold! I will form a covenant” (Exod. 34:10). He promised him that they [the Israelites] would never return empty [i.e., without an answer to their prayers]. -[from Rosh Hashanah 17b]   וְרִֽחַמְתִּי: עֵת שֶׁאֶחְפֹּץ לְרַחֵם; עַד כָּאן לֹא הִבְטִיחוֹ אֶלָּא עִתִּים אֶעֱנֶה וְעִתִּים לֹא אֶעֱנֶה, אֲבָל בִּשְׁעַת מַעֲשֶׂה אָמַר לוֹ הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי כֹּרֵת בְּרִית (שמות ל"ד) – הִבְטִיחוֹ שֶׁאֵינָן חוֹזְרוֹת רֵיקָם:
20And He said, "You will not be able to see My face, for man shall not see Me and live."   כוַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־פָּנָ֑י כִּ֛י לֹֽא־יִרְאַ֥נִי הָֽאָדָ֖ם וָחָֽי:
And He said, “You will not be able…”: Even when I let all My goodness pass before you, I [still] do not grant you permission to see My face.   וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא תוּכַל וגו': אַף כְּשֶׁאַעֲבִיר כָּל טוּבִי עַל פָּנֶיךָ אֵינִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ רְשׁוּת לִרְאוֹת אֶת פָּנַי:
21And the Lord said: "Behold, there is a place with Me, and you shall stand on the rock.   כאוַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהֹוָ֔ה הִנֵּ֥ה מָק֖וֹם אִתִּ֑י וְנִצַּבְתָּ֖ עַל־הַצּֽוּר:
Behold, there is a place with Me: on the mountain, where I always speak to you. I have a place prepared for your benefit, where I will hide you so that you will not be hurt, and from there you shall see what you shall see. This is its simple meaning, but its midrashic meaning is that [God] is speaking of the place where the Shechinah is, and He says: “The place is with Me,” but He does not say: “I am in the place,” for the Holy One, blessed is He, is the place of the world [i.e., the world is within Him], but the world is not His place [i.e., the world does not encompass him] (Gen. Rabbah 68:9).   הִנֵּה מָקוֹם אִתִּי: בָּהָר אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר עִמְּךָ תָמִיד, יֵשׁ מָקוֹם מוּכָן לִי לְצָרְכְּךָ שֶׁאַטְמִינְךָ שָׁם שֶׁלֹּא תִזֹּק, וּמִשָּׁם תִּרְאֶה מַה שֶּׁתִּרְאֶה, זֶהוּ פְּשׁוּטוֹ; וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ, עַל מָקוֹם שֶׁהַשְּׁכִינָה שָׁם מְדַבֵּר, וְאוֹמֵר הַמָּקוֹם אִתִּי, וְאֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר אֲנִי בַמָּקוֹם, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְקוֹמוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם וְאֵין עוֹלָמוֹ מְקוֹמוֹ (תנחומא):
22And it shall be that when My glory passes by, I will place you into the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by.   כבוְהָיָה֙ בַּֽעֲבֹ֣ר כְּבֹדִ֔י וְשַׂמְתִּ֖יךָ בְּנִקְרַ֣ת הַצּ֑וּר וְשַׂכֹּתִ֥י כַפִּ֛י עָלֶ֖יךָ עַד־עָבְרִֽי:
when My glory passes by: When I pass by before you.   בַּֽעֲבֹר כְּבֹדִי: כְּשֶׁאֶעֱבֹר לְפָנֶיךָ:
into the cleft of the rock: Heb. בְּנִקְרַתהַצוּר, like [the following verses:] Even if you pick out תִּנַקֵּר those people’s eyes” (Num. 16:14); “May the ravens of the valley pick it out (יִקְּרוּה) ” (Prov. 30:17); [and] “I dug (קַרְתִּי) and drank water” (Isa. 37:25). [All] these [examples] have one root (קר). נִקְרַת הַצוּר means the digging out of the rock [i.e., the cleft].   בְּנִקְרַת הַצּוּר: כְּמוֹ הַעֵינֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵם תְּנַקֵּר (במדבר ט"ז), יִקְּרוּהָ עֹרְבֵי נַחַל (משלי ל'), אֲנִי קַרְתִּי וְשָׁתִיתִי מָיִם (מלכים ב' יט, כד; ישעיה לז, כה), גִּזְרָה אַחַת לָהֶם, נִקְרַת הַצּוּר: כְּרִיַּת הַצּוּר:
and I will cover you with My hand: From here [we understand] that power was given to destructive forces to destroy [Moses] (Num. Rabbah 14:19). Its Aramaic translation is וְאָגֵין בְּמֵימְרִי, and I will protect with My word. This is a euphemism out of honor of the Most High, for He does not need to cover over him [Moses] with an actual hand.   וְשַׂכֹּתִי כַפִּי: מִכָּאן שֶׁנִּתְּנָה רְשׁוּת לַמְחַבְּלִים לְחַבֵּל, וְתַרְגּוּמוֹ "וְאָגֵין בְּמֵימְרִי" כִּנּוּי הוּא לְדֶרֶךְ כָּבוֹד שֶׁל מַעְלָה, שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְסוֹכֵךְ עָלָיו בְּכַף מַמָּשׁ:
23Then I will remove My hand, and you will see My back but My face shall not be seen."   כגוַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִי֙ אֶת־כַּפִּ֔י וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵֽרָאֽוּ:
Then I will remove My hand: [Onkelos renders:] Then I will remove the guidance [i.e., My guidance] of My glory, when the guidance of My glory passes by from opposite your face, to go further from there [this means that even Moses would not be permitted to grasp the essence of God, only His attributes and His deeds (Nethinah LaGer)].   וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִי אֶת־כַּפִּי: וְאַעֲדֵי יָת דִּבְרַת יְקָרִי – כְּשֶׁאֲסַלֵּק הַנְהָגַת כְּבוֹדִי מִנֶּגֶד פָּנֶיךָ, לָלֶכֶת מִשָּׁם וּלְהַלָּן:
and you will see My back: [Then] He showed him the knot of the tefillin. -[from Ber. 7a]   וְרָאִיתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָי: הֶרְאָהוּ קֶשֶׁר שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין (ברכות ז'):