Exodus 33:12-34:26: Observing the Festivals

The Torah reading for Shabbat that falls on the intermediate days of Sukkot

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The portion in this Torah reading that related directly to Sukkot is detailed in verse 34:22.  Verses 34:6-7 are recited during the Torah service on festivals, as well as being part of the High Holiday liturgy. This portion begins after the incident with the golden calf and the destruction of the first set of commandments.  Moses, back on Mount Sinai, appears to have a moment of spiritual crisis and asks to see God.  Told that he cannot see God an live, Moses is then instructed to take shelter in the cleft of a rock, protected by God’s “hand,” God then passes before Moses.  It is interesting to contemplate the possible association of the sukkah, Moses’ shelter, and God’s “sheltering” presence while reading the Sukkot portion.

This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.

33:12.     Moses said to the LORD, "See, You say to me, 'Lead this people forward,' but You have not made known to me whom You will send with me. Further, You have said, 'I have singled you out by name, and you have, indeed, gained My favor.'

33:13.     Now, if I have truly gained Your favor, pray let me know Your ways, that I may know You and continue in Your favor. Consider, too, that this nation is Your people."

33:14.     And He said, "I will go in the lead and will lighten your burden."

33:15.     And he said to Him, "Unless You go in the lead, do not make us leave this place.

33:16.     For how shall it be known that Your people have gained Your favor unless You go with us, so that we may be distinguished, Your people and I, from every people on the face of the earth?"

33:17.     And the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have asked; for you have truly gained My favor and I have singled you out by name."

33:18.     He said, "Oh, let me behold Your Presence!"

33:19.     And He answered, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name LORD, and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show.

33:20.     But," He said, "you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live."

33:21.     And the LORD said, "See, there is a place near Me. Station yourself on the rock

33:22.     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.

33:23.     Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen."

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