ויקרא אל משה. לְכָל דִּבְּרוֹת וּלְכָל אֲמִירוֹת וּלְכָל צִוּוּיִים קָדְמָה קְרִיאָה, לְשׁוֹן חִבָּה, לָשׁוֹן שֶׁמַּלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְקָרָא זֶה אֶל זֶה (ישעיהו ו'), אֲבָל לִנְבִיאֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם נִגְלָה עֲלֵיהֶן בִּלְשׁוֹן עֲרָאִי וְטֻמְאָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיִּקָּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל בִּלְעָם (במדבר כ"ג):
ויקרא אל משה AND [THE LORD] CALLED UNTO MOSES — All oral communications of the Lord to Moses whether they are introduced by דבר or by אמר or by צו were preceded by a call (to prepare him for the forthcoming address) (cf Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 1 1-2). It is a way of expressing affection, the mode used by the ministering angels when addressing each other, as it is said (Isaiah 6:3) “And one called unto another [and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts]”. To the prophets of the nations of the world, however, God revealed himself in a manner which Scripture describes by an expression ordinarily used for denoting events of a casual character and of uncleanness, as it is said, (Numbers 23:4) “and God happened to meet (ויקר) Balaam” (the term ויקר, from the root ,קרה, is connected with מִקְרֶה which denotes “chance”, “occurrence”, and has also the meaning of “uncleanness”, by analogy with Deuteronomy 23:11: לא יהיה טהור מקרה לילה) (cf. Bereishit Rabbah 52:5).
ויקרא אל משה. הַקּוֹל הוֹלֵךְ וּמַגִּיעַ לְאָזְנָיו וְכָל יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא שׁוֹמְעִין; יָכוֹל אַף לְהַפְסָקוֹת הָיְתָה קְרִיאָה, תַּ"ל וַיְדַבֵּר — לְדִבּוּר הָיְתָה קְרִיאָה וְלֹא לְהַפְסָקוֹת, וּמֶה הָיוּ הַפְסָקוֹת מְשַׁמְּשׁוֹת? לִתֵּן רֶוַח לְמֹשֶׁה לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה וּבֵין עִנְיָן לְעִנְיָן; קַ"וָ לְהֶדְיוֹט הַלּוֹמֵד מִן הַהֶדְיוֹט:
ויקרא אל משה AND HE CALLED UNTO MOSES — This implies that the Voice went on and reached his (Moses’s) ears only but all the other Israelites did not hear it). One might think that for the subsections there was also such a call! It, however, states, “[And the Lord called unto Moses] and spake (וידבר) [to him]”, thus intimating that a דבור, a complete section had (was preceded by) a call (e. g., in our text chapters 1—4), but not the subsections. And what purpose did these subsections serve (i. e., why are the larger sections broken up into smaller ones)? To give Moses an interval for reflection between one division and another and between one subject and another — something which is all the more necessary for an ordinary man receiving instruction from an ordinary man (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 1 9).
אליו. לְמַעֵט אֶת אַהֲרֹן; רַ' יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר י"ג דִּבְּרוֹת נֶאֶמְרוּ בַּתּוֹרָה לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן וּכְנֶגְדָּן נֶאֶמְרוּ י"ג מִעוּטִין, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁלֹּא לְאַהֲרֹן נֶאֶמְרוּ אֶלָּא לְמֹשֶׁה שֶׁיֹּאמַר לְאַהֲרֹן, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן י"ג מִעוּטִין: לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ, מִדַּבֵּר אֵלָיו, וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו (במדבר ז'), וְנוֹעַדְתִּי לְךָ (שמות כ"ה) — כֻּלָּן בְּתוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִים. יָכוֹל יִשְׁמְעוּ אֶת קוֹל הַדִּבּוּר תַּ"לֹ קוֹל לוֹ, קוֹל אֵלָיו, מֹשֶׁה שׁוֹמֵעַ וְכָל יִשְֹרָאֵל לֹא שָׁמְעוּ:
אליו TO HIM — This is intended to exclude Aaron. Rabbi Judah said, “Thirteen communications in the Torah are stated, according to the wording of the text, to have been spoken to Moses and Aaron together; but corresponding to these there are thirteen which include expressions with a limitative force to teach you that they were spoken not to Aaron but to Moses only, with the view that he should communicate them to Aaron. The following are the thirteen limitations: (Numbers 7:89) “[And when Moses had come into the appointed tent] that He might speak with him, [then he heard the Voice] speaking unto him … [from between the two cherubim]: and he spoke unto him”; (Exodus 25:22) “and there I will be met by thee”; — all the thirteen instances you will find in Torath Cohanim (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 2 1. — I might, however, think that they (Aaron and all Israel) heard at least the sound of the Divine utterance (הדבור), even though they could not distinguish the words! However, in the text, Numbers 7:89: וישמע את הקול מדבר אליו,where it might have said לו... ה]קול], it says אליו… ה]קול], “And he heard the voice (הקול) uttering itself (מדבר) right up to him (אליו)” — consequently Moses alone heard the utterance, and all Israel did not hear it) (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 2 8).
מאהל מועד. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה הַקּוֹל נִפְסָק וְלֹא הָיָה יוֹצֵא חוּץ לָאֹהֶל; יָכוֹל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַקּוֹל נָמוּךְ, תַּ"ל אֶת הַקּוֹל, מַהוּ הַקּוֹל? הוּא הַקּוֹל הַמְפֹרָשׁ בִּתְהִלִּים קוֹל ה' בַּכֹּחַ קוֹל ה' בֶּהָדָר קוֹל ה' שֹׁבֵר אֲרָזִים (תהילים כ"ט), אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד? מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה הַקּוֹל נִפְסָק. כַּיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וְקוֹל כַּנְפֵי הַכְּרוּבִים נִשְׁמַע עַד הֶחָצֵר הַחִיצֹנָה (יחזקאל י'), יָכוֹל שֶׁהַקּוֹל נָמוּךְ תַּ"ל כְּקוֹל אֵל שַׁדַּי בְּדַבְּרוֹ, אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר עַד הֶחָצֵר הַחִיצֹנָה? שֶׁכֵּוָּן שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ שָׁם הָיָה נִפְסָק:
מאהל מועד FROM THE APPOINTED TENT — This teaches us that the Voice broke off and did not issue beyond the appointed tent. One might think that this was so because the Voice was a very low one! Scripture, however, states, (Numbers 7:89) “[when he entered the tent he heard] the Voice”. What does it mean by the Voice? It was the Voice that is so minutely described in Psalms, (29:4, 5) “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars. But if this be so (that it was a very powerful voice), why does Scripture state, “[and the Lord spoke to him] from the appointed tent” (מאהל מועד and does not state באהל מועד)? Because it intends to tell us that the Voice broke off and that it was heard only in the tent). A similar case we have in Ezekiel that a powerful sound uttered within the Temple was not heard outside: (Ezekiel 10:5) “And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard up to the outer court”. One might think then that the sound was a very low one! Scripture, however, continues “as the Voice of the Almighty God when He speaketh”! If this was so why, then, does Scripture state, “[it was heard] up to the outer court only”? Because when it (the sound) reached there it broke off (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 2 10-11).
מאהל מועד לאמר. יָכוֹל מִכָּל הַבַּיִת, תַּ"ל מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת, יָכוֹל מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת כֻּלָּהּ, תַּ"ל מִבֵּין שְׁנֵי הַכְּרֻבִים:
מאהל מועד לאמר [AND THE LORD … SPOKE UNTO HIM] OUT OF THE APPOINTED TENT, SAYING — One might think from this that the Lord spoke to him from the entire house (i.e. from any part of the appointed tent)! Scripture, however, states, (Numbers 6:89) “[and he heard the Voice speaking unto him] from off the covering”. From this, again, one might think that he heard the Voice coming from off the entire covering (from any part of it)! Scripture, however, continues, “from between the two cherubim”. Consequently the words מאהל מועד cannot denote the place from which the Lord spoke to Moses, but the area within which the Voice was heard (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 2 12).
לאמר. צֵא וֶאֱמֹר לָהֶם דִּבְרֵי כִּבּוּשִׁין — בִּשְׁבִילְכֶם הוּא נִדְבָּר עִמִּי; שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ שֶׁכָּל ל"ח שָׁנָה שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְֹרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּמְנֻדִּים, מִן הַמְרַגְּלִים וָאֵילַךְ, לֹא נִתְיַחֵד הַדִּבּוּר עִם מֹשֶׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיְהִי כַאֲשֶׁר תַּמּוּ כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה לָמוּת … וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֵלַי לֵאמֹר (דברים ב'), אֵלַי הָיָה הַדִּבּוּר. דָּ"אַ צֵא וֶאֱמֹר לָהֶן דְּבָרַי וַהֲשִׁיבֵנִי אִם יְקַבְּלוּם, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיָּשֶׁב מֹשֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם וְגוֹ' (שמות י"ט):
לאמר SAYING — This implies “Go and speak to them words that will bring them to a subdued frame of mind):‘It is for your sake that He communicates with me’!” And indeed we find this was so; for all the thirty — eight years during which Israel in the wilderness were placed, as it were, under excommunication — from the time of the incident of the spies and onwards — there was no intimate conversation of God with Moses, for it is said, (Deuteronomy 2:16, 17) “So it came to pass, when were consumed all the men of war (i. e. the men who had waged war immediately after the return of the spies; cf. Numbers 14:40—45. It was they and their generation who wandered in the wilderness as though excommunicated) … that the Lord spake unto me, saying, …” — only then was a divine communication again made to me (Sifra). Another explanation of לאמר is that it means “to speak to God”: it implies, “Go and tell them My commands and bring Me back word whether they will accept them, as it is said, (Exodus 19:8) “And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Nedavah, Chapter 2 13).