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Sforno on Exodus 34:33

ויכל משה מדבר אתם אבל בעוד שהיה מדבר אתם היה בלי מסוה, כענין והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך וכאמרם ז''ל (פרק קמא דעירובין) ואי חזיתיה מקמיה, הוינא מחדד טפי

(English translation is from Sefaria. It includes editor's commentary, so it is not literal):

ויכל משה מדבר אתם

but while he was still speaking to them he did not wear the cloth. This corresponds to Isaiah 30,20 “your eyes should look at your teachers.” As our sages explained (Eyruvin 13, Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi speaking) “if I had looked at his (Rabbi Meir’s) teacher’s face instead of merely at his back I would have been even more learned.”)

So, it seems that Moses put on the veil while he was walking around the camp not teaching the people.

This puzzles me. The people asked Moses to put on the veil because they were afraid of him when they saw his face shining. Does this mean that only while he was teaching them, they weren't afraid any more, but afterwards, they were, again?

  • It first says "וַיִּירְאוּ מִגֶּשֶׁת אֵלָיו", they were afraid. But Moses calls them anyway, before anything is said about a veil: "וַיִּקְרָא אֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה... וַיְצַוֵּם". Only then, after teaching everyone, "וַיִּתֵּן עַל פָּנָיו מַסְוֶה". So from the text (and Seforno) it seems that Moses wore the veil when he wasn't speaking to Hashem or the people (most commentators say - only when he was engaged in non-holy activities). They were afraid initially, because it was new, but it seems that this was solved by him calling to them, before the veil, so the veil was used for other reasons. – Cauthon Feb 24 '16 at 14:59
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Kli Yakar says that Moses wore the veil while he was walking around camp because he was exceedingly humble and embarrassed that people were staring at his shining face. This is why when he came before G-d, he had to remove the veil in order to uncover his embarrassment, as stated in Pirke Avot 2:6, "The embarrassed person cannot learn."

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