Parashas Eikev

In this week’s parashah, Moshe reviews the sin of the golden calf. The Midrash relates (Devarim Rabbah 3:15):
Moshe restored Hashem’s favor toward the Jewish People. What did he do? He ascended to Hashem in an angry manner. … When Hashem beheld Moshe’s angry demeanor, He said to him: “We have here two faces showing anger toward them, Mine and yours.” And right afterward (Shemos 33:11): “And Hashem spoke to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks with his fellow.”
The Maggid notes how baffling this Midrash is, and sheds light on it with a parable. A king gave one of his servants a silver goblet as a present. The servant discovered that it was imitation silver. He did not have the nerve to tell the king outright that the silver was fake, so he concocted a clever scheme to convey the message. He told the king: “I don’t want to take this goblet from you for free. Rather, let me buy it from you for full price.” The king named a price, and the servant brought him a number of gold coins corresponding to the named sum. Among these coins, the servant included one counterfeit. The king spotted it and said: “This coin is fake.” The servant replied: “By my life, Your Majesty, this coin is just like the goblet.”
The parallel is as follows. Hashem occasionally shows us anger, but He is never really angry at us. Thus, in regard to the statement in Eichah 2:5 that “Hashem was like an enemy,” the Midrash in Eichah Rabbah 1:3 remarks that it is not written that Hashem was an enemy, but only that he was “like” an enemy – He acted like He an enemy, but He was not really an enemy. The episode of the golden calf was one of the occasions that led Hashem to show an angry face toward us. Moshe saw the angry face and realized that it was just an outward show of anger, but he did not have the nerve to tell Hashem so directly. Instead, he approached Hashem with an angry face of his own. If Hashem would point out that Moshe’s anger was feigned, he could respond that his face was like Hashem’s face. And, indeed, Hashem ultimately acknowledged what was taking place, saying: “We have here two faces showing anger against them, Mine and yours.”
The Midrash then goes on to say that immediately afterward Hashem spoke to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks with his fellow. The intent here, according to the Maggid, is that Hashem and Moshe dropped the act and spoke the way they actually felt. In connection with the Torah’s statement about Hashem speaking with Moshe face to face, the Gemara relates (Berachos 63b):
Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Moshe: “In the same way as I showed you a face, so, too, you show the Jewish People a face, and return the Tent of Meeting to its place [Moshe having moved it after the sin of the calf].”
The Maggid, in line with his explanation above, presents an interpretation of this Gemara differing from the usual one. In the Maggid’s reading, Hashem is telling Moshe the following: “In the same way as I just showed you a face of anger, but was not actually angry, so, you, too, make sure that you do not actually get angry at the people, but just show them a face of anger in order to strike fear in their hearts and lead them to repent. And when they do, return the Tent of Meeting to its place.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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