This Shabbat combines the joy
of Sukkot, the festival of joy, and the serenity of Shabbat. In
this year of gathering let’s all try to include new faces at the
Shabbat table in the Sukkah and thereby intensify the joy.
This Shabbat we read about
the second tablets and Hashem’s thirteen attributes of mercy.
After the sin of the golden calf, when Hashem forgave the Jewish
people, Moshe asked Hashem to reveal to him Hashem’s glory.
Hashem responded that seeing His “face” was impossible but He
would show Moshe His “back.” When Moshe brought the second set
of tablets up to
Hashem passed before him and called out, “Hashem, Hashem,
benevolent G-d, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and
abounding in kindness and truth. He preserves kindness thousand
generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, who
acquits.” These traits are known as Hashem’s thirteen attributes
of mercy and are a part of the liturgy, particularly prominent
in the Selichot and the Yom Kippur prayers..
The word Torah means
teaching. When the Torah relates something, it is a lesson. Both
Moshe’s request and Hashem’s response are lessons. Moshe teaches
each one of us that we have to seek to understand Hashem’s
glory. It is not sufficient to only follow the rules of the
Torah. Our love for Hashem should bring a desire to understand
Him in every way possible. This can be attained through learning
Hashem responded that you
cannot see my face, but you can see my back. This teaches us
that Hashem is infinite, and therefore we cannot grasp Him.
However, we can and must come as close as possible. Every step
opens new doors. When Hashem recounted the thirteen attributes
of mercy, it was a lesson. Hashem’s glory is not just in the
supernal: it is this world through patience, good, kindness and
Last Shabbat we discussed
that Hashem’s name is revealed in each of us. Accordingly, the
narrative this week teaches us to recognize and cultivate the
name of G-d that is within each of us. We might have thought
that cultivating our divine nature is through removing ourselves
from the world. Hashem teaches us otherwise. Through patience,
compassion, kindness and forgiving, we reveal the spark of G-d
in each of us. We must also realize that our G-dly spark gives
us the power to emulate G-d. Hashem’s patience is infinite. He
waits years for individuals and centuries for nations to go on
the right path. The Torah says that He not only appreciates a
good deed, but continues to reward for two thousand generations.
We can make the same mistakes thousands of times, ask
forgiveness, and He grants it. His kindness is called “Great
Kindness.” The human parallel is going far beyond our duty in
the help of others: be it in time, effort, or money. Our divine
spark teaches us that we must aspire to these levels.
When Moshiach comes, our
thirst for the knowledge of Hashem will be quenched because the
knowledge of Hashem will fill the earth as the water fill the
ocean bed. May Hashem grant us the ultimate mercy and kindness
and bring Moshiach immediately!