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    God in the lead – Ki Tissa

    pray daven tefillah salvation shamayimIn Chapter 33 of Sh’mot, God says to Moshe, “My Presence shall go with you” (verse 14). The Hebrew for “My Presence” is panai, which is literally “My face”.

    The Greek Septuagint says, “I Myself shall go”. The Aramaic Targum Onkelos says, “My Sh’chinah shall go”. Some of the rabbis in the Talmud, however, read the Hebrew differently; they understood it as saying. “My anger shall go with you” (Ber. 7b). Ibn Ezra rejects the “anger” suggestion, which he says seems impossible in the light of the following verse.

    A very useful rendering comes in the translation of the Jewish Publication Society, which suggests that God tells Moses that He will go in the lead. What this implies is a Divine promise that He will never forsake Israel. If the people follow His lead they will never be destroyed.

    With all the problems of Jewish experience, all the times when we have questioned the direction in which God was taking us, His promise has remained our beacon. At one or other given moment things seemed impossible, but in the long run there can be no question but that our people have survived whilst so many others – bigger, noisier, more physically powerful than us – have fallen by the wayside.

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