אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי מִנַּיִן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל הַר קָדְשִׁי וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי תְּפִלָּתָם לֹא נֶאֱמַר אֶלָּא תְּפִלָּתִי מִכָּאן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל
Along the same lines, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays? As it is stated: “I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of My prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). The verse does not say the house of their prayer, but rather, “the house of My prayer”; from here we see that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays.
The Gemara asks: What does God pray? To whom does God pray?
אָמַר רַב זוּטְרָא בַּר טוֹבִיָּה אָמַר רַב יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנַי שֶׁיִּכְבְּשׁוּ רַחֲמַי אֶת כַּעֲסִי וְיִגּוֹלּוּ רַחֲמַי עַל מִדּוֹתַי וְאֶתְנַהֵג עִם בָּנַי בְּמִדַּת רַחֲמִים וְאֶכָּנֵס לָהֶם לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין
Rav Zutra bar Tovia said that Rav said:
God says: May it be My will that My mercy will overcome My anger towards Israel for their transgressions,
and may My mercy prevail over My other attributes through which Israel is punished,
and may I conduct myself toward My children, Israel, with the attribute of mercy,
and may I enter before them beyond the letter of the law.
תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן אֱלִישָׁע פַּעַם אַחַת נִכְנַסְתִּי לְהַקְטִיר קְטוֹרֶת לִפְנַי וְלִפְנִים וְרָאִיתִי אַכְתְּרִיאֵל יָהּ ה' צְבָאוֹת שֶׁהוּא יוֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא רָם וְנִשָּׂא וְאָמַר לִי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנִי בָּרְכֵנִי אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ שֶׁיִּכְבְּשׁוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ אֶת כַּעַסְךָ וְיִגּוֹלּוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ עַל מִדּוֹתֶיךָ וְתִתְנַהֵג עִם בָּנֶיךָ בְּמִדַּת הָרַחֲמִים וְתִכָּנֵס לָהֶם לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין וְנִעְנַע לִי בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וְקָמַשְׁמַע לַן שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא בִּרְכַּת הֶדְיוֹט קַלָּה בְּעֵינֶיךָ
Similarly, it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha, the High Priest, said: Once, on Yom Kippur, I entered the innermost sanctum, the Holy of Holies, to offer incense, and in a vision I saw Akatriel Ya, the Lord of Hosts, one of the names of God expressing His ultimate authority, seated upon a high and exalted throne (see Isaiah 6).
And He said to me: Yishmael, My son, bless Me.
I said to Him the prayer that God prays: “May it be Your will that Your mercy overcome Your anger,
and may Your mercy prevail over Your other attributes,
and may You act toward Your children with the attribute of mercy,
and may You enter before them beyond the letter of the law.”
The Holy One, Blessed be He, nodded His head and accepted the blessing. This event teaches us that you should not take the blessing of an ordinary person lightly. If God asked for and accepted a man’s blessing, all the more so that a man must value the blessing of another man.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי מִנַּיִן שֶׁאֵין מְרַצִּין לוֹ לְאָדָם בִּשְׁעַת כַּעְסוֹ דִּכְתִיב פָּנַי יֵלֵכוּ וַהֲנִחֹתִי לָךְ אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה הַמְתֵּן לִי עַד שֶׁיַּעַבְרוּ פָּנִים שֶׁל זַעַם וְאָנִיחַ לְךָ
And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: From where is it derived that one must not placate a person while he is in the throes of his anger, rather he should mollify him after he has calmed down? As it is written, when following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses requested that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel as it had previously, God said to him: “My face will go, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan explained: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Wait until My face of wrath will pass and I will grant your request. One must wait for a person’s anger to pass as well.
וּמִי אִיכָּא רִתְחָא קַמֵּיהּ דְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא
The Gemara asks: And is there anger before the Holy One, Blessed be He? Can we speak of God using terms like anger?
אִין דְּתַנְיָא וְאֵל זוֹעֵם בְּכָל יוֹם
The Gemara answers: Yes, as it was taught in a baraita, God becomes angry, as it is stated: “God vindicates the righteous, God is furious every day” (Psalms 7:12).
וְכַמָּה זַעְמוֹ רֶגַע וְכַמָּה רֶגַע אֶחָד מֵחֲמֵשֶׁת רִבּוֹא וּשְׁמוֹנַת אֲלָפִים וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת וּשְׁמֹנִים וּשְׁמֹנָה בְּשָׁעָה וְזוֹ הִיא רֶגַע וְאֵין כָּל בְּרִיָּה יְכוֹלָה לְכַוֵּין אוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה חוּץ מִבִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע דִּכְתִיב בֵּיהּ וְיוֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן
How much time does His anger last? God’s anger lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? One fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eighth of an hour, that is a moment. The Gemara adds: And no creature can precisely determine that moment when God becomes angry, except for Balaam the wicked, about whom it is written: “He who knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Numbers 24:16).
הַשְׁתָּא דַּעַת בְּהֶמְתּוֹ לֹא הֲוָה יָדַע דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן הֲוָה יָדַע
This should not be understood to mean that Balaam was a full-fledged prophet. Now, clearly, Balaam did not know the mind of his animal; and he did know the mind of the Most High? If he could not understand the rebuke of his donkey, he was certainly unable to understand the mind of the Most High.
אֶלָּא מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ לְכַוֵּין אוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כּוֹעֵס בָּהּ
Rather, this verse from Numbers teaches that Balaam was able to precisely determine the hour that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is angry. At that moment, Balaam would utter his curse and, through God’s anger, it would be fulfilled.
וְהַיְינוּ דְּאָמַר לְהוּ נָבִיא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמִּי זְכָר נָא מַה יָּעַץ בָּלָק מֶלֶךְ מוֹאָב וְגוֹ' מַאי לְמַעַן דַּעַת צִדְקוֹת ה'
And that is what the prophet said to Israel: “My nation, remember what Balak king of Moab advised, and how Balaam, son of Beor, responded; from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord” (Micah 6:5). What is meant by the statement: “So that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord”?
אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל דְּעוּ כַּמָּה צְדָקוֹת עָשִׂיתִי עִמָּכֶם שֶׁלֹּא כָּעַסְתִּי בִּימֵי בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע שֶׁאִלְמָלֵי כָּעַסְתִּי לֹא נִשְׁתַּיֵּיר מִשּׂוֹנְאֵיהֶם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל שָׂרִיד וּפָלִיט
Rabbi Elazar said that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: Know how many acts of kindness I performed on your behalf, that I did not become angry during the days of Balaam the wicked, for had I become angry, there would have been no remnant or survivor remaining among the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself. Instead, God restrained His anger and Balaam’s curse went unfulfilled.
וְהַיְינוּ דְּקָאָמַר לֵיהּ בִּלְעָם לְבָלָק מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל וּמָה אֶזְעֹם לֹא זָעַם ה' מְלַמֵּד שֶׁכָּל אוֹתָן הַיָּמִים לֹא זָעַם
And that is what Balaam said to Balak: “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? And how can I condemn whom God has not condemned?” (Numbers 23:8). This verse teaches that all those days, God was not angry.
וְכַמָּה זַעְמוֹ רֶגַע וְכַמָּה רֶגַע אָמַר רַבִּי אָבִין וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי אֲבִינָא רֶגַע כְּמֵימְרֵיהּ
And how long does His anger last? God’s anger lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? Rabbi Avin, and some say Rabbi Avina, said: A moment lasts as long as it takes to say it [rega].
וּמְנָא לָן דְּרֶגַע רָתַח שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי רֶגַע בְּאַפּוֹ חַיִּים בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וְאִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא מֵהָכָא חֲבִי כִּמְעַט רֶגַע עַד יַעֲבׇר זָעַם
From where do we derive that God is only angry for a moment? As it is stated: “His anger is but for a moment, His favor, for a lifetime” (Psalms 30:6). And if you wish, say instead, from here, as it is stated: “Hide yourself for a brief moment, until the anger passes” (Isaiah 26:20), meaning that God’s anger passes in a mere moment.
וְאֵימַת רָתַח אָמַר אַבַּיֵי בְּהָנָךְ תְּלָת שָׁעֵי קַמָּיָיתָא כִּי חִיוָּרָא כַּרְבַּלְתָּא דְּתַרְנְגוֹלָא וְקָאֵי אַחַד כַּרְעָא
The Gemara asks: When is the Holy One, Blessed be He, angry? Abaye said: God’s anger is revealed through animals. During the first three hours of the day, when the sun whitens the crest of the rooster and it stands on one leg. When it appears that its life has left him and he suddenly turns white, that is when God is angry.
כֹּל שַׁעְתָּא וְשַׁעְתָּא נָמֵי קָאֵי הָכִי
The Gemara asks: The rooster also stands that way every hour. What kind of sign is this?
כָּל שַׁעְתָּא אִית בֵּיהּ שׁוּרְיָיקֵי סוּמָּקֵי בְּהַהִיא שַׁעְתָּא לֵית בֵּיהּ שׁוּרְיָיקֵי סוּמָּקֵי
The Gemara answers: The difference is that every other hour when the rooster stands in that way, there are red streaks in his crest. But when God is angry, there are no red streaks in his crest.
הַהוּא מִינָא דַּהֲוָה בְּשִׁבְבוּתֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי הֲוָה קָא מְצַעֵר לֵיהּ טוּבָא בִּקְרָאֵי יוֹמָא חַד שְׁקַל תַּרְנְגוֹלָא וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ בֵּין כַּרְעֵיהּ דְּעַרְסָא וְעַיֵּין בֵּיהּ סְבַר כִּי מָטָא הַהִיא שַׁעְתָּא אֶלְטְיֵיהּ כִּי מְטָא הַהִיא שַׁעְתָּא נָיֵים אֲמַר שְׁמַע מִינַּהּ לָאו אוֹרַח אַרְעָא לְמֶעְבַּד הָכִי וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו כְּתִיב
The Gemara relates: A certain heretic who was in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s neighborhood would upset him by incessantly challenging the legitimacy of verses. One day, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi took a rooster and placed it between the legs of the bed upon which he sat and looked at it. He thought: When the moment of God’s anger arrives, I will curse him and be rid of him. When the moment of God’s anger arrived, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi slept. When he woke up, he said to himself: Conclude from the fact that I nodded off that it is not proper conduct to do so, to curse people, even if they are wicked. “His mercy is over all His creations” (Psalms 145:9) is written even with regard to sinners.
וּכְתִיב גַּם עָנוֹשׁ לַצַּדִּיק לֹא טוֹב
Moreover, it is inappropriate to cause the punishment of another, as it is written: “Punishment, even for the righteous, is not good” (Proverbs 17:26), even for a righteous person, it is improper to punish another.
תָּנָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי מֵאִיר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַחַמָּה זוֹרַחַת וְכָל מַלְכֵי מִזְרָח וּמַעֲרָב מַנִּיחִים כִּתְרֵיהֶם בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶם וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לַחַמָּה מִיָּד כּוֹעֵס הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא:
Explaining the cause of God’s anger, it is taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: When the sun rises and the kings of the East and the West place their crowns on their heads and bow down to the sun, the Holy One, Blessed be He, immediately grows angry. Since this occurs in the early hours every day, God becomes angry at His world at that moment every day.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי טוֹבָה מַרְדּוּת אַחַת בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם יוֹתֵר מִכַּמָּה מַלְקֻיוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְרִדְּפָה אֶת מְאַהֲבֶיהָ וְגוֹ' וְאָמְרָה אֵלְכָה וְאָשׁוּבָה אֶל אִישִׁי הָרִאשׁוֹן כִּי טוֹב לִי אָז מֵעָתָּה וְרֵישׁ לָקִישׁ אָמַר יוֹתֵר מִמֵּאָה מַלְקֻיוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר תֵּחַת גְּעָרָה בְמֵבִין מֵהַכּוֹת כְּסִיל מֵאָה:
And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: A single regret or pang of guilt in one’s heart is preferable to many lashes administered by others that cause only physical pain, as it is stated: “And she chases her lovers, but she does not overtake them; she seeks them, but she will not find them; and she will say ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for it was better for me then than now’” (Hosea 2:9). Remorse is more effective than any externally imposed punishment listed in the verses that follow (Hosea 2:11–19). And Reish Lakish said that in the Bible, it seems that such remorse is preferable to one hundred lashes, as it is stated: “A rebuke enters deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred lashes to a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה דְבָרִים בִּקֵּשׁ מֹשֶׁה מִלִּפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְנָתַן לוֹ בִּקֵּשׁ שֶׁתִּשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָה עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַן לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הֲלוֹא בְּלֶכְתְּךָ עִמָּנוּ
And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei regarding Moses’ request that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel as it once had: Moses requested three things from the Holy One, Blessed be He, at that time, all of which were granted him. He requested that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel and not leave, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “For how can it be known that I have found grace in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in that You go with us, so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16). The request: Is it not in that You go with us, refers to the resting of the Divine Presence upon Israel.
בִּקֵּשׁ שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָה עַל עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים וְנָתַן לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְנִפְלִינוּ אֲנִי וְעַמְּךָ
Moses requested that the Divine Presence not rest upon the nations of the world, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “So that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people on the face of the earth” (Exodus 33:16).
בִּקֵּשׁ לְהוֹדִיעוּ דְּרָכָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְנָתַן לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הוֹדִיעֵנִי נָא אֶת דְּרָכֶיךָ אָמַר לְפָנָיו רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם מִפְּנֵי מָה יֵשׁ צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ וְיֵשׁ צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ יֵשׁ רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ וְיֵשׁ רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ אָמַר לוֹ מֹשֶׁה צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ צַדִּיק בֶּן צַדִּיק צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ צַדִּיק בֶּן רָשָׁע רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ רָשָׁע בֶּן צַדִּיק רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ רָשָׁע בֶּן רָשָׁע:
Lastly, Moses requested that the ways in which God conducts the world be revealed to him, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “Show me Your ways and I will know You” (Exodus 33:13).
Moses said before God: Master of the Universe. Why is it that the righteous prosper, the righteous suffer, the wicked prosper, the wicked suffer?
God said to him: Moses, the righteous person who prospers is a righteous person, the son of a righteous person, who is rewarded for the actions of his ancestors. The righteous person who suffers is a righteous person, the son of a wicked person, who is punished for the transgressions of his ancestors. The wicked person who prospers is a wicked person, the son of a righteous person, who is rewarded for the actions of his ancestors. The wicked person who suffers is a wicked person, the son of a wicked person, who is punished for the transgressions of his ancestors.
אָמַר מָר צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ צַדִּיק בֶּן צַדִּיק צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ צַדִּיק בֶּן רָשָׁע אִינִּי וְהָא כְּתִיב פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וּכְתִיב וּבָנִים לֹא יוּמְתוּ עַל אָבוֹת וְרָמֵינַן קְרָאֵי אַהֲדָדֵי
The Gemara expands upon these righteous and wicked individuals: The Master said: The righteous person who prospers is a righteous person, the son of a righteous person. The righteous person who suffers is a righteous person, the son of a wicked person. The Gemara asks: Is it so that one is always punished for his ancestors’ transgressions? Isn’t it written: “He visits iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:7). And it is written elsewhere: “Fathers shall not die for their children, and children shall not be put to death for the fathers; every man shall die for his own transgression” (Deuteronomy 24:16). And the Gemara raises a contradiction between the two verses.
וּמְשַׁנֵּינַן לָא קַשְׁיָא הָא כְּשֶׁאוֹחֲזִין מַעֲשֵׂה אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם בִּידֵיהֶם הָא כְּשֶׁאֵין אוֹחֲזִין מַעֲשֵׂה אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם בִּידֵיהֶם
The Gemara resolves the contradiction: This is not difficult. This verse from Exodus, which states that God punishes descendants for the transgressions of their ancestors, refers to a case where they adopt the actions of their ancestors as their own. While this verse from Deuteronomy, which states that descendants are not punished for the actions of their ancestors, refers to a case where they do not adopt the actions of their ancestors as their own, as it is stated: “I visit iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and fourth generations of my enemies” (Exodus 20:5).
אֶלָּא הָכִי קָאָמַר לֵיהּ צַדִּיק וְטוֹב לוֹ צַדִּיק גָּמוּר צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ צַדִּיק שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָּמוּר רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ רָשָׁע שֶׁאֵינוֹ גָּמוּר רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ רָשָׁע גָּמוּר
A righteous person is clearly not punished for the transgressions of his ancestors. Rather, it must be that God said to Moses as follows:
The righteous person who prospers is a completely righteous person whose actions are entirely good and whose reward is entirely good both in this world and in the World-to-Come.
The righteous person who suffers is one who is not a completely righteous person. Because he does have some transgressions, he is punished in this world so that he will receive a complete reward in the World-to-Come.
The wicked person who prospers is one who is not a completely wicked person. God rewards him in this world for the good deeds that he performed, so that he will receive a complete punishment in the World-to-Come.
Finally, the wicked person who suffers is a completely wicked person. Since he performed absolutely no mitzvot and deserves no reward, he receives only punishment both in this world and in the World-to-Come (Maharsha).
וּפְלִיגָא דְּרַבִּי מֵאִיר דְּאָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר שְׁתַּיִם נָתְנוּ לוֹ וְאַחַת לֹא נָתְנוּ לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְחַנֹּתִי אֶת אֲשֶׁר אָחוֹן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ הָגוּן וְרִחַמְתִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר אֲרַחֵם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ הָגוּן
Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion, that God granted Moses all three of his requests, disagrees with that of Rabbi Meir, as Rabbi Meir said: Two of Moses’ requests were granted to him, and one was not granted to him. God granted him that the Divine Presence would rest upon Israel and not leave, and that the Divine Presence would not rest upon the nations of the world, but God did not reveal to Moses the ways in which He conducts the world. As it is said: “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Exodus 33:19); in His mercy, God bestows His grace upon every person, even though he is not worthy. Similarly, God says: “And I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy,” even though he is not worthy. According to Rabbi Meir, the way in which God conducts the world and bestows grace and mercy was not revealed even to Moses.
וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא תוּכַל לִרְאוֹת אֶת פָּנָי תָּנָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן קָרְחָה כָּךְ אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה כְּשֶׁרָצִיתִי לֹא רָצִיתָ עַכְשָׁיו שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹצֶה אֵינִי רוֹצֶה
The Gemara continues to cite the Sages’ explanation of verses that require clarification on the same topic. With regard to God’s statement to Moses, “And He said: ‘You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live’” (Exodus 33:20), it was taught in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses as follows: When I wanted to show you My glory at the burning bush, you did not want to see it, as it is stated: “And Moses concealed his face, fearing to gaze upon God” (Exodus 3:6). But now that you want to see My glory, as you said: “Show me Your glory,” I do not want to show it to you. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa interprets Moses’ initial refusal to look upon God’s glory negatively, as he rebuffed God’s desire to be close to him.
וּפְלִיגָא דְּרַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן דְּאָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן בִּשְׂכַר שָׁלֹשׁ זָכָה לְשָׁלֹשׁ
This disagrees with that which Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said, as Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Specifically as a reward for three acts of humility in averting his glance at the burning bush, Moses was privileged to experience three great revelations:
בִּשְׂכַר וַיַּסְתֵּר מֹשֶׁה פָּנָיו זָכָה לִקְלַסְתֵּר פָּנִים בִּשְׂכַר כִּי יָרֵא זָכָה לְוַיִּירְאוּ מִגֶּשֶׁת אֵלָיו בִּשְׂכַר מֵהַבִּיט זָכָה לְוּתְמֻנַת ה' יַבִּיט.:
Because “Moses concealed his face, fearing to gaze upon God” (Exodus 3:6), he was privileged to have his countenance [kelaster] glow.
Because he “feared,” he was privileged that “they feared to approach him” (Exodus 34:30).
Because he did not “gaze,” he was privileged to “behold the likeness of the Lord” (Numbers 12:8).
וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת כַּפִּי וְרָאִיתָ אֶת אֲחֹרָי אָמַר רַב חָנָא בַּר בִּיזְנָא אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן חֲסִידָא מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהֶרְאָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה קֶשֶׁר שֶׁל תְּפִילִּין:
What did Moses see? It is said: “And I will remove My hand, and you will see My back, but My face you will not see” (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana bar Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida, the expression: “And you will see My back,” should be understood as follows: This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who, as mentioned above, wears phylacteries, showed him the knot of the phylacteries of His head, which is worn on the back of the head.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר שֶׁיָּצָא מִפִּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְטוֹבָה אֲפִילּוּ עַל תְּנַאי לֹא חָזַר בּוֹ
On this subject, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: Every statement to a person or to a nation that emerged from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, with a promise of good, even if it was conditional, He did not renege on it. Ultimately, every promise made by God will be fulfilled.
מְנָא לָן מִמֹּשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הֶרֶף מִמֶּנִּי וְאַשְׁמִידֵם וְגוֹ' וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אוֹתְךָ לְגוֹי עָצוּם אַף עַל גַּב דִּבְעָא מֹשֶׁה רַחֲמֵי עֲלַהּ דְּמִלְּתָא וּבַטְּלַהּ אֲפִילּוּ הָכִי אוֹקְמַהּ בְּזַרְעֵיהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה גֵּרְשׁוֹם וֶאֱלִיעֶזֶר וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי אֱלִיעֶזֶר רְחַבְיָה הָרֹאשׁ וְגוֹ' וּבְנֵי רְחַבְיָה רָבוּ לְמָעְלָה וְגוֹ'
From where do we derive that all of God’s promises are fulfilled? We know this from Moses our teacher, as God promised and said: “Leave Me alone; I will destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make from you a nation mightier and greater than they” (Deuteronomy 9:14). Even though Moses prayed to have the decree repealed, and it was nullified, the promise was fulfilled and Moses’ descendants became a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert. As it is stated with regard to the Levites: “The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer…and the sons of Eliezer were Reḥaviya the chief. And Eliezer had no other sons; and the sons of Reḥaviya were very many” (I Chronicles 23:15–17).
וְתָנֵי רַב יוֹסֵף לְמַעְלָה מִשִּׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא אַתְיָא רְבִיָּה רְבִיָּה כְּתִיב הָכָא רָבוּ לְמַעְלָה וּכְתִיב הָתָם וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל פָּרוּ וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ:
And Rav Yosef taught in a baraita: “Many” means more than 600,000. This is learned through a verbal analogy between the words many and many. It is written here with regard to Reḥaviya’s sons: “Were very many.” And it is written there with regard to the Israelites in Egypt: “And the children of Israel became numerous and multiplied and were very many, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7). Just as when the children of Israel were in Egypt, very many meant that there were 600,000 of them, so too the descendants of Reḥaviya were 600,000.