The next paragraph aligns the themes of the prayers for forgiveness on the sins
of the golden calf and the acceptance of slander. By comparing the underlined themes we discover
certain differences which will be the subject of Rashi comments.
Moses' prayer to God to forgive the Jewish people for the sin of accepting the slander of the spies,
- Moses will replace Jewish nation: And HaShem said unto Moses: ,,,,
I will smite them with the pestilence, and destroy them, and will make of thee a nation greater and mightier than they.'
- Non Jews will interpret-God is helpless:
And Moses said unto HaShem: 'When the Egyptians shall hear--for Thou broughtest up this people in Thy might from among them--
they will say to the inhabitants of this land, ...
Because HaShem was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore unto them, therefore He hath slain them in the wilderness.
- God's Attributes of Mercy:
And now, I pray Thee, let the power of the L-rd be great, according as Thou hast spoken, saying:
HaShem is slow to anger, and plenteous in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generatio
- Request for forgiveness:Pardon, I pray Thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, and according as Thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.'
- Ex32-11:14, describing Moses prayer to God when they sinned with the Golden calf, states
- Request for not-excessive anger: And Moses besought HaShem his G-d, and said: 'HaShem, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, that Thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty ha
- Non Jews will interpret-God is helpless: Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, saying: For evil did He bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?
- Request for forgiveness: Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people.
Rashi, exploring the above alignment notes, as indicated by the underlined phrases, that
- Both prayers mention a request for forgiveness;
Both prayers mention the theme that as a consequence of God's punishment, Non Jews will interpret-God is helpless;
- however only the prayer by the Golden calf mentions The Merit of the Patriarchs,
Rashi resolves this omission of mention of the merit of the Patriarchs in the prayer for
forgiveness on the sin of slander of the spies by pointing out that, as indicated by the underlined bullets,
God had addressed this concern, by promising that Moses will replace Jewish nation, and thus the
promise to the Patriarchs that a Jewish nation would descend from them would be fulfilled.
Advanced Rashi: The careful reader would note that the alignment uncovers a second
difference between the two prayers, a difference, not addressed by Rashi. The prayer for the forgiveness on
the sin of the Golden calf includes both a request for forgiveness as well as a
request for non-excessive anger. Why? Perhaps the answer here could be the following Rashi-type
comment: The sin of slander is greater than the sin of idolatry. For thus we see that Moses prayed
for non-excessive anger by the sin of the Golden calf but did not (or could not, or dare not) so pray
by the sin of acceptance of the slander of the spies. The reason for this distinction is simple. The idol can't do anything
and the worshipping of the idol is simply a sin of insult to God. By contrast the sin of slander is a substantive
sin which permanantly effects future actions, for, as a result of accepting the slander, the people permanantly, no longer wished to go