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Sukkot, Chol Hamoed, Shabbat Ki Tissa 33:12-34:26 Pinhas: 28:26-31

One of the great joys of Sukkot--including Shabbat's Mom's personal favorite, the heavenly scent of the intoxicating etrog--is that we read Torah on each of the eight days. The portion for this Shabbat, the sixth day of the "Festival of Booths", goes backwards in Torah time to the Book of Exodus and contains a deeply intimate exchange between Moses and G-d.

Perhaps shattered by his angry shattering of the Ten Commandments when he descends Mount Sinai and sees the Israelites' worshipping the golden calf, Moses begs to see the face of G-d.

"'Oh, let me behold Your Presence!'

And He answered, 'I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name of the Lord, and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show. But,' He said,

'you cannot see My face, for man may not see me and live.'

Shabbat Mom has always found this moment particularly poignant, especially when you consider that on Tuesday, during the holiday of Simchat Torah, we will finish reading the Five Books of Moses, learning in V'zot Ha-B'rakhah of the death of Moses, the magnificent, flawed leader whom G-d did not allow to enter the Promised Land.

The words "Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses--whom the Lord singled out, face to face..." never fail to bring Shabbat Mom to tears. (A few moments later, when we begin reading the Torah over again, Shabbat Mom hears: "Let there be light!", and is hopeful again!)

Now back to Mount Sinai and the Holy meeting between Moses and G-d (imagined here above).

"And the Lord said, 'See, there is a place near Me. Station yourself on the rock and, as My Presence passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.'" May we all continue to feel G-d's presence throughout this season of joy--and every day that we are blessed to be alive. Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

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