Torah portions for when Shabbat falls on intermediate day of Passover

traditional jewish matzo
Photo by cottonbro studio on

When an intermediate day of Passover (חול המועד פסח) falls on a Shabbat, in place of the weekly Torah reading (פרשת השבוע), the following two Torah portions are read:  Exodus (שמות) 33:12 to 34:26 and Numbers (במדבר) 28:16 to 28:25. If more than one torah scroll is available, customarily each portion would be read from a separate scroll.

Portion One: Read from Book of Exodus (שמות)

Chapter 33 – Moses is allowed to view a hint of Gd’s glory (Verses  12 through 23)

Here (33:18), Moses makes what may seem like an outlandish request from Gd: He (Moses) said “please show me your greatness (glory may be a more fitting translation” (ויאמר הראני נא את כבדך). 

Perhaps, like his kinsmen in constructing the golden calf, Moses wanted the reassurance of a god that was visible and approachable. In response we have an anthropomorphic description of Gd. Is this intended to be taken literally? Why cannot man see His Face and live?  Would the knowledge or realization be too overpowering or “mind blowing” for a mortal  to behold?  

Note  that  Moses  is  not so humble  after  all,  and dares to  make  demands  of  Gd.

The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks interpreted this section as declaring that man cannot presume to fully know or understand the mind of Gd or why he delivers or withholds grace. Rabbi Sacks further states that Stephen Hawking was mistaken in stating that even if we could obtain a full understanding of the working of the cosmos (if such a thing is even possible) we would still not understand “the mind of Gd”. Of course, Hawkins, like Einstein, used the term “Gd” euphemistically.

Chapter 34 – Moses alights the mountain a second time (Verses 1 through 7)

Moses  must  prepare a  second  set  of stone  tablets. The first set was prepared by Gd. Since Moses smashed them, he is responsible to prepare a second set.   Is this a form of penance?

Moses alights a second time up Mount  Sinai. Gd passes before him. From the Hebrew (34:6 “ה’ ה’ אל רחום וחנון ארך אפים ורב חסד ואמת …”), it is not clear whether Gd or Moses proclaims ” … Gd compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, …”.  Is  this  truly  a  description  of the Gd  of the Torah?  These  lines have  been inserted  in the High  Holidays liturgy.    Perhaps   it is not so  much  an  assertion  of  Gd’s  characteristics  but a  plea  for Gd   to act  in  such  a  manner towards  us.  In contemporary terms, this may be a plea to Gd to “cut us some slack”.  Your thoughts?

34:7 is usually translated   as ” … visits   the iniquity  of  the  fathers              upon the children … upon  the  third and  fourth generation ( פקד עון אבות …).” Is the intent that  descendants bear personal guilt or is responsibility a  better translation?  The (orthodox) Artscroll edition  translates עון  as “recalling the iniquity”.

Gd makes a covenant with the Israelites (Verses 8 through 17)

Moses again appeals to Gd to pardon His people. Gd makes a covenant, promising to drive out the inhabitants of the land   promised  to them.      There  is  a   warning  to the Israelites to beware of  fraternization with them  as they  will be ensnared in their ways.  Not a very  politically correct  section! The section also contains a warning (34:14) that he is either  a  jealous or  an  impassioned  Gd (depending on how  you  translate קנא).

Listing of commands (Verses 18 through 26)

Verse 18 – Seven-day Festival of Matzoh (חג המצות)  to commemorate the exodus from Egypt

Verse 19 to 20 – Every male firstborn, livestock or human, belongs to Gd. Sons to be redeemed  (source for פדיון הבן ceremony    observed  by traditional  Jewish  communities).

Verse 21 – Sabbath is  a day of rest,   even  during       plowing  and   harvest  time.

Verse 22 – Observance of Festival of Weeks or Shavuot (חג שבועות) to commemorate the first offerings of the wheat harvest.  (Note: Following the Babylonian exile, Rabbis   designated   Shavuot  to commemorate the  giving    of Torah).

Verse 23 to 24 – Three    pilgrimage  festivals for all the males (no reference to females – sorry ladies),           the (unrealistic) promise  of divine  protection  of  the  frontiers  during  these  holidays.

Verse 25 – The sacrificial holiday  of  Passover (זבח חג הפסח),  here  distinct  from  Festival  of  Matzoh.

Verse 26 – Command to bring the first fruits  to  the  temple and one  of the three  times the Torah  entreats  us    not to boil   a  kid  in  its  mother’s  milk.

Portion two: Read from the Book of Numbers (במדבר)

Chapter 28 –   Obligatory Passover sacrifices (Verses 16 through 25)

Gd dictates to Moses detailed instructions for S the obligatory sacrifices to be offered during the Passover pilgrimage festival. No explanations are offered as to the reasons for the offerings, the protocols, or the contents.

Be the first to comment

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.