- Referencing God
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- The very last sentence in parshas Naso (Numbers 7:89) reads,
"And when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with
'him', and he heard the voice speaking to him from atop the Kaporess
on the Ark of testimony from between the two cherubim speaking
- Who is the first "him" referring to? It makes no
mention of anyone previously in the chapter. Additionally, this
passage seems out of context. As the preceding verses are dealing
with the twelve princes' offerings, why does it state that Moses
spoke with "him" immediately following the sacrifices
of the Tabernacle's inauguration?
- Its clear that the "him" mentioned is referring
to God, as there is no one else in the Tabernacle when Moses
entered. Why then did God go out of the way and avoid using a
direct reference to His name? God could have written, "And
when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with God...."
- I believe God used the word "him" to teach the
following: this is the one geographical location where there
is no mistaking that it pertains exclusively to God. When
in the tabernacle, the term "Him" suffices to teach
with whom Moses was talking. It is only "God's House".
It is impossible to refer to any other being in this location,
as it is exclusively God's domain, "And make for Me a temple
and I will dwell among you". (Lev. 25:8). The Torah therefore
points to this exclusivity by using the term "Him"
in place of the name God.
- What then is the importance of our knowing this fact, that
this place is exclusively God's? Perhaps the answer is that there
is no one else who could be the source of wisdom - the definition
of the Tabernacle and Temple. As the ark is the focus of the
Tabernacle, the Tabernacle's distinction is derived from the
Ark's unique character as the "Torah's container".
Additionally, Moses heard the voice emanating from between the
two cherubim which is directly above the Ark to embellish on
the point that such prophecy was directly from God, the Creator
of the Torah. Perhaps for this reason, miracles surrounded the
Ark which housed the Torah - the object of God's exclusive creation
which He made before the universe. Through miracles, the Ark
was intimately tied to the Divinity of Torah as it housed both
it and the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments also carried
the miraculous feature of being written legibly from both sides
of each tablet - one of the objects mentioned as being created
on the primordial Friday at sunset. ( See our article on this
topic: All Miracles Were Part
of Creation ). Miracles then seem to be used in connection
with the Ark to underline the Torah's Divine nature and origin.
- Why is the term "the voice" used, and not
"God's voice?" Simply put, God has no voice.
Meaning, we don't find statements which attribute corporeality
to God. A passage such as "God's voice......" referring
to actual verbalization - not a message - is impossible for the
Torah to state, as it implies human qualities. (An acceptable
instance would be something like "listen to His voice",
meaning, follow His commands. Such a statement is not conveying
that God has a voice, so it does not oppose Torah principles.)
- The reason this verse comes right after the completion of
the inaugural sacrifices is to teach that the sacrifices are
not the essential aspect of the Tabernacle and the future Temple.
The essence of these structures' purposes is that man have a
connection with God - the Source of all knowledge. To demonstrate
this, God wrote that Moses spoke with Him subsequent to the sacrifices
to show the real goal of the Temple. If this parsha concluded
with the sacrifices, one might be led to believe an inherent
importance to sacrifice as an ends. Really, sacrifice is a means.
Knowledge of God, Torah study is the goal of the Torah. See Talmud
Moad Katan, 9b at the very top of the page where Torah and mitzvos
are compared by Rav Shimon bar Yochai's students, questioning
which is the preferred activity.
- (See our article on the Tabernacle
where we explained that the articles contained in the Holy of
Holies serve to illustrate that in these four objects, we witness
God's exclusive, ultimate knowledge.)