The Erev Rav Part 2: Moshe and the Mixed Multitude

The erev rav (mixed multitude) mentioned previously, in Shemot 12:37-38, was the group of non-Jews who joined Israel when they left Egypt. According to our sages, Moshe consented to take them along without first consulting with HaShem. He did this for the sake of trying to bring them under the wings of HaShem (conversion).

The Zohar in Ki Tisa 191A explains that the Erev Rav were false converts, who wanted to be Jews in order to be ‘on the winning team’ so to speak and to get all the benefits of being the servants of such a powerful ‘G-­d’, as opposed to serving HaShem with all of their hearts and souls.

After ascending Mt. Sinai, while Moshe was completing his forty-day period in Shamayim (Heaven), Israel was engaged in the sin of the golden calf. At that moment HaShem said to Moshe, “You must go down because your people who you have taken out from Egypt have become corrupt.”

Rashi cites Chazal who explains that the reason HaShem used the term “your people” rather than “my people” refers to the erev rav.

Rashi also cites Chazal that explains that “You must go down” to mean that Moshe must descend to a lower level because HaShem only elevated Moshe to that special level for the sake of the Jewish people who were no longer worthy.

The “mixed multitude” consisted entirely of one people all the members of which spoke one language: namely, all the sorcerers of Egypt and all its magicians, as it is written, “And the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments” (Ex. 7, 2); for they wanted to oppose the wonderful works of the Holy One, blessed be He. When they saw the signs and the wonders which Moshe wrought in Egypt they came to Moshe to be converted. Said the Holy One to Moshe: “Do not receive them” Moshe, however, replied: “Sovereign of the universe, now that they have seen Your power they desire to accept our Faith, let them see Your power every day and they will learn that there is no G-d like You.” And Moshe accepted them.”

– Zohar Ha Kadosh Ki Tissa 191A

Arizal explains the connection:

“All the souls that were rectified completely reincarnated into the Children of Israel and were the generation that went down to Egypt. However, there were souls that were not yet rectified, and they became Egyptians. Yosef had them circumcised, as it says, “Go to Yosef and do whatever he tells you to do” (Bereishit 41:55) . . . Also, Ya’akov, his father, made many converts in Egypt (Bereishit Rabbah 84:4). Those who converted and did Milah lived apart from the rest of Egyptian society, and stood out amongst the rest of the Egyptians. Pharaoh noticed these two levels, and it is with respect to the converts that he said, “The people, the Children of Israel are more numerous and greater than us”; they were the Erev Rav that left with the Children of Israel, and they were more than double the Jewish people.”

– Sha’arei HaPesukim, Shemos 1:8

Knowing this, you can see a connection as to why Moshe was born to Yocheved when she was 130 years old. This corresponds to the 130 years in which Adam “made” these souls.

This explains the Arizal, and the verse Bamidbar 7:12-13:

“Nachshon, the son of Aminadav of the tribe of Yehudah offered on the first day. He offered one silver dish, 130 shekels in weight.

First of all, the silver dish weighed 130 shekels. This again, corresponds to the 130 years of Adam HaRishon. Secondly, the word for ‘weight’, mishkelah, is comprised of two words: mem-shin-heh, and kuf-lamed, which means, “Moshe 130,” again confirming the connection between Moshe and the Erev Rav which he converted without the permission of HaShem.

< Read Part 1 | Read Part 3 >

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