21 Adar 5781
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Ki Tisa - Parah
Are there any spiritual implications involved in the masking of human beings? Our parshah does shed some light (pun intended) on this issue.
When Moses descended from Mount Sinai - with the two Tablets of the Testimony in the hand of Moses as he descended from the mountain - Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant when He had spoken to him. Aaron and all the Children of Israel saw Moses, and behold! - the skin of his face had become radiant; and they feared to approach him. Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the assembly returned to him, and Moses would speak to them. After that, all the Children of Israel would approach; he would command them regarding everything that Hashem had spoken to him on Mount Sinai.
Moses finished speaking with them and placed a mask on his face. When Moses would come before Hashem to speak with Him, he would remove the mask until his departure; then he would leave and tell the Children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. When the Children of Israel saw Moses' face, that Moses' face had become radiant, Moses put the mask back on his face, until he came to speak with Him. (Shemot 34.29-35)
Commentary: And placed a mask on his face. Moses wore the mask to spare the people the embarrassment of seeing how they had so deprived themselves of closeness to God that they could not even look at his prophet (Be'er Moshe).
When Moses taught the word of God to the people, he did not wear the mask, so that nothing would interpose between God's teaching and the people of Israel. Then, he would put the mask back on and wear it until God spoke to him again. (Source: Stone Edition Chumash)
And clearly, Moshe did not wear the mask when speaking with HKB"H. If the mask was an actual barrier between the people and God's instructions, how much more so would it be a barrier during prayer when one enters the actual Presence of HKB"H.
From this, we can understand that it is permissible to wear a mask in order to spare the feelings of other people, for example, in the public domain among those who believe their own health is at risk from those who do not mask. On the other hand, it would seem to be impermissible to wear a mask while in prayer or when giving over words of Torah, even in the public domain.
I would go even further and say that anyone who has so little faith in HKB"H that they believe their health depends on a piece of paper covering the faces of his co-religionists, should be the ones to remain outside or at home during davening and let the unmasked hold sway in the synagogues and yeshivahs.
~ SHABBAT SHALOM ~