Posted in Parashat Hashavua on 28. Jan, 2011
Moshe stands before Hashem in the mist (Shemot 20:18) listening to Divine words. Towards the end of this episode, God appoints an angel to watch over Bnei Yisrael (23:20-22). Why does God suddenly hand the task over to an angel? What precisely is the angel’s role in this process? Why is it important, and, in turn, how does this affect Moshe?
God clears Moshe’s schedule and ensures that he is not occupied by traveling plans. Instead, He assigns the angel those technical jobs, for giving everything to Moshe would be overwhelming. This allows Moshe the time and the space required to impart the Divine words correctly. Moshe’s job is to give the Torah to Bnei Yisrael, but even more so he is to be the vessel through which the Divine torah is transmitted to Bnei Yisrael and eventually to teach what is written in the Torah to the Jewish nation.
It seems that we can learn a lesson here. When it comes to a physical act, like traveling through the desert or fighting off enemies, God can do the job just fine. However, when it comes to the spirituality of the Torah and facilitating the people’s acceptance of the Divine word, perhaps God cannot manage alone. Humans need a human touch. The people ask Moshe himself to relay and explain the Torah, teaching them the Divine words, and not to let Hashem do it. In order for Bnei Yisrael to properly accept the Torah and listen to Hashem’s laws, the words need to come from a person whom they can see and to whom they can relate. Moshe is needed to convey the Torah to His people. This central task is assigned specifically to him, a human being, because it cannot be done via an angel or by God Himself. The angel, therefore, plays a significant part in this process. Its mention here, in the midst of all these “dry” seemingly mechanical laws, comes to emphasize the importance of the human touch, thereby illuminating and clarifying the contrast between these two tasks. Perhaps having a person deliver Divine words is not what Hashem initially had in mind, maybe, a division of labor is not what Hashem originally intended, but God now realizes that it is necessary for the people.
May we constantly merit Divine instruction and may we continue to produce gedolim who, like Moshe Rabbeinu, impart Torah wisdom to us for generations to come.