Parshas Mishpatim deals mostly with technical laws of various sorts. However, at the end of the parshah, the story surrounding Moshe’s ascent up Har Sinai is explained in detail. The Torah describes how Moshe and those who escorted him to the foot of the mountain- Aharon and his sons, Yehoshua, and the Zekeinim- saw a vision of Hashem on top of the mountain. The pasuk immediately following describes what came next.
“וְאֶל אֲצִילֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ” “And upon the nobles of the children of Yisrael He (Hashem) did not lay His hand, and they perceived Hashem, and they ate and drank.” (Shemos 24:11). Rashi explains that these ‘nobles’ are Moshe’s escorts, who were the greatest men in the entire nation. He then explains that the pasuk mentions that they ate at the time they saw Hashem to show they were acting with cockiness, for which they were later punished.
The Kli Yakar explains how the eating and drinking they did here was bad. The Torah tells us that for the entire time Moshe was on Har Sinai, he did not require any physical sustenance; simply basking in the Shechinah provided everything necessary for his survival. After seeing the Shechinah themselves, the noblemen had the opportunity to experience this same sustenance. Instead, they indulged in physical pleasures, which canceled out the potential affect of any spiritual sustenance.
This was the difference between Moshe’s nevuah and everyone else’s. Moshe was so close to the Shechinah that he had to refrain from physical pleasures as much as he could. In fact, the gemarah in Yoma (4b) says that he waited six days before going up on Har Sinai in order that all the food in his system should be cleared out. Only then could he begin to accept the sustenance provided by the Shechinah. The nobles, on the other hand, were not like this. The word “אציל”, which we translate as ‘noble’, also means ‘increased’. This refers to the fact that the prophetic capabilities of the nobleman were enhanced through Moshe. The only way they were able to see Hashem at this time was through the nevuah of Moshe. But while they were able to connect their minds to Hashem in order to see Him, they could not connect their physical bodies to Hashem the way that Moshe could.
At different times throughout the Torah, we see amazing examples of how high a spiritual level Moshe Rabbeinu was holding on. Even at a time where it’s obvious that Moshe was on a higher level- he’s about to go up to Har Sinai to get the Torah- there is still an extra point to come out of it that shows how much greater Moshe really was. How lucky were Bnei Yisrael to have such a leader!
For any questions, comments, to subscribe to our email list, or to submit your own Dvar Torah, please email us at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.
Please check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!