Parasha Inspiration – Shemot

וּמשֶׁ֗ה הָיָ֥ה רֹעֶ֛ה אֶת־צֹ֛אן יִתְר֥וֹ חֹֽתְנ֖וֹ כֹּהֵ֣ן מִדְיָ֑ן וַיִּנְהַ֤ג אֶת־הַצֹּאן֙ אַחַ֣ר הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֛א אֶל־הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים חֹרֵֽבָה: וַיֵּרָ֠א מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו בְּלַבַּת־אֵ֖שׁ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֑ה וַיַּ֗רְא וְהִנֵּ֤ה הַסְּנֶה֙ בֹּעֵ֣ר בָּאֵ֔שׁ וְהַסְּנֶ֖ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ אֻכָּֽל: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֔ה אָסֻֽרָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה אֶת־הַמַּרְאֶ֥ה הַגָּדֹ֖ל הַזֶּ֑ה מַדּ֖וּעַ לֹֽא־יִבְעַ֥ר הַסְּנֶֽה: וַיַּ֥רְא יְהֹוָ֖ה כִּ֣י סָ֣ר לִרְא֑וֹת וַיִּקְרָא֩ אֵלָ֨יו אֱלֹהִ֜ים מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֗ה וַיֹּ֛אמֶר משֶׁ֥ה משֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי:

Moses was pasturing the flocks of Jethro, his father in law, the chief of Midian, and he led the flocks after the free pastureland, and he came to the mountain of G-d, to Horeb. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within the thorn bush, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed. So Moses said, “Let me turn now and see this great spectacle why does the thorn bush not burn up?” The Lord saw that he had turned to see, and G-d called to him from within the thorn bush, and He said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am!”

Exodus 3:1-4

This week’s Torah portion contains the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses was tending the flocks of Jethro when he noticed something amazing. On mount Sinai, he saw a bush that burned, but was not consumed by the fire. And when Hashem noticed that Moses had turned and paid attention to the bush, Hashem spoke to him from the bush.

However, Exodus 3:2 tells us that it was an Angel, a messenger of Hashem, that appeared to Moses from the midst of the bush. Exodus 3:4 says that Hashem called to Moses from within the bush. Hashem called, not an angel. An Angel appeared, not Hashem. So, which is it? Is Hashem in the bush, or is an Angel in the bush?

This is not the first time in Torah that we see Hashem appearing as an Angel. Jacob wrestled with an Angel, and then Jacob named the place Peniel because he saw G-d face-to-face. So, Jacob saw Hashem face-to-face, but he appeared as an Angel. Here, in Exodus 3, we see Hashem appearing as an Angel within the bush that burned, but was not consumed.

It is an important concept that Hashem may appear to us in different ways. He may appear to us as an Angel. This does not mean that when Hashem appears as an Angel, that he is a different G-d. He is still Hashem, we simply see him as an Angel. It is in precisely this manner that Hashem may appear as a human being. When he appears as a human being, he is Hashem, no more, no less. Just as when he appears as an Angel, he is Hashem, no less. In all these methods of appearing to us, he is still Hashem, the G-d of Israel. What changes is how we view Him, He does not change. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.