Vol. 15 No. 37
Moshe, King of Kush
(Adapted from the Kol Agados Yisrael)
I have long maintained that the irony of Moshe Rabeinu's having been raised in Paroh's palace (besides being a practical demonstration of the popular mantra 'Man plans, G-d laughs',) was also G-d's way of giving Moshe a first-hand insight into the meaning of 'Malchus' and how it works, which he would later put to good use when he, as king of Yisrael for forty years, taught Yisrael all about Malchus Shamayim.
It seems to me that if that was Moshe's first lesson in Malchus, then his direct initiation into that realm was the forty years (surely no coincidence) that he spent as King of Kush. This is the story as told by the Medrash.
When the nations of the east rebelled against Nikanos, King of Kush, and refused to pay him their annual tax, the latter summoned Bil'am ben Be'or and his two sons. Informing him of his plan to lead an army against the nations of the east to quell the rebellion, Nikanos asked Bil'am to remain in the capital and to guard it against enemy invaders. This the latter undertook to do, and Nikanos left the city with a large army to attack the people of the east.
No sooner had the king departed, than Bil'am gathered all the city's leaders and sages and began to promise them large rewards. When they asked him what he wanted them to do in exchange, he replied that he needed their assistance in locking the gates of the city, to deny Nikanos entry upon his return, and to prevent him from returning to the throne. He suggested they appoint another king in his place. The elders of Kush and the people liked the idea and asked Bil'am to become their new king, a request with which he was happy to comply, provided they undertook to serve him faithfully and carry out his every request for as long as he lived. The people promptly swore an oath of allegiance and placed him on the throne of Nikanos. After appointing his two sons to take charge of the army, Bil'am ordered the fortification of the eastern and western walls of the city. On the north side, he dug broad wells, which he filled with water from the river that flowed round Kush, whereas on the south, he employed his magic skills to fill the open space with a variety of poisonous snakes and scorpions. In this way the city was fully protected against any invaders. It was totally impregnable; no-one could enter and no-one could leave.
And that was the situation when Nikanos returned after defeating his enemies. From afar, he was astonished to see two high walls on the east and west sides of the city. 'It must be', he speculated to his generals, 'that the people, seeing how we took longer than expected to return, decided to fortify the walls, to prevent the kings of Cana'an from gaining entry to the city and capturing it'. Arriving at the gates of the city, the King called to the gate-keepers to open them; but the gate-keepers, following King Bil'am's orders, refused. Nikanos decided to attack the city from the front, but he was repelled, losing a hundred and fifty men in the attack. The following day, he attacked from the north. To cross the wells, his men made rafts, but Bil'am, by means of witchcraft, caused the rafts to sink, and many of his men drowned. Finally, he laid siege to the southern side of the town, but the snakes and scorpions attacked his men and bit them, forcing him to retreat.
At that point, Moshe, who had run away from Par'oh, and who was eighteen at the time, arrived on the scene. He joined the camp of Nikanos, who was enamoured by his good looks and his wisdom, for he was tall like a date-palm, his face shone like the sun, he moved swiftly like an eagle, and was as strong as a lion. The King lost no time in appointing Moshe to the position of chief advisor, and from that moment on, he meticulously followed his counsel in all matters.
Nine years passed, and Nikanos, King of Kush, fell ill and died. He was duly embalmed and buried outside the northern boundary of the city. Following local custom, they built a tower over his grave and placed large stones there, on which they recorded his mighty deeds and the battles that he fought; and they wept for him and eulogized him.
Following the death of Nikanos, the army met to discuss their future plans. They decided that if they were to attack the city, many of them would die; whereas if they did nothing, what sort of a future lay in store for them? Someone suggested that they appoint a new king who would rule over them and lead them into battle. Perhaps their new king would find a way to succeed where Nikanos, who was already old when Bil'am usurped the throne, had failed. The people liked the idea, and they unanimously chose Moshe as their new king, for as they all agreed, there was nobody among them who was stronger and more capable than he.
Without more ado, every man removed his cloak, and threw it on the ground, forming a large platform on which they placed Moshe. They blew the horns and called out 'Long live the King! Long live the King!' Moshe was twenty-seven years old when he ascended the throne of Kush, and he reigned for forty years.
(to be continued).
(Adapted from the
Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)
Bringing up the Rear
"And the Flag of the Camp of the B'nei Dan, the gatherer of all the camps, journeyed … " (10:25).
They were given this title, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., because they were the last to travel. Anybody who, for some reason or other, fell back, would travel with them (until an opportunity arose to rejoin their own camp).
See also Rashi.
A Silent Ambassador
" … and you will be for us 'eyes' " (10:31).
'Whoever sees you traveling with us', the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains, 'will say that Yisro only left his home and country because he saw and realized the greatness of G-d and the good things that He did for them'.
Three Days Journey
"And they traveled from the Mountain of Hashem a journey of three days … " (10:33).
This cannot mean that they traveled for three consecutive days; for the Gemara in Shavu'os teaches us that a person cannot go for three days without sleeping (and certainly not an entire nation).
What the Pasuk therefore means is that they made a three-day journey, stopping each night to rest, and resuming their travels the following morning.
Similarly, the Torah writes in Bereishis "because in six days Hashem made the Heaven and the earth", which does not mean (Kevayachol) that He worked round the clock for six days, but that, during those six days, He spent time creating the entire world.
See also Rashi.
What Yehoshua Thought
"My master Moshe, stop them!" (11:28).
Because G-d had said that seventy men would prophesy, not including Eldad and Meidad. Consequently, Yehoshua thought, if they were now prophesying, they must be false prophets and had to be stopped at all costs.
So Moshe explained to Yehoshua, that the seventy elders to whom G-d referred were those who would receive a portion of prophecy from himself, but that did not preclude people receiving a spirit of prophecy directly from G-d, which was evidently what was happening to Eldad and Meidad.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin asks why, if Eldad and Meidad's prophecy concerned the falling of the quails immediately or Gog and Magog in time to come, Yehoshua was so concerned about it.
The answer given there is that it was not the content of the prophecy that bothered Yehoshua, but the lack of Derech Eretz for a Talmid to prophesy in the presence of his Rebbe.
Moshe Defends Eldad & Meidad
"Are you zealous for me? I wish that all the people of Hashem were prophets!" (11:29)
The Gemara in Sanhedrin also expresses surprise that, if their prophecy concerned Moshe's own demise before entering the promised land and Yehoshua taking them into the land in his place, Moshe was able to respond the way he did.
Indeed, says the Gemara, this would not have been possible. Only they did not tell Moshe that part of the prophesy.
Let No-one Think that G-d Can't
"The meat was still between their teeth … " (11:33).
Hashem deliberately delayed punishing the people until they had all eaten their fill of quails and it was coming out of their nostrils, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. so that nobody should think for one moment that He was killing them due to His inability to provide them with their request.
The Wicked and the Not so Wicked
Ibid. To reconcile this with what the Pasuk wrote earlier, that they would eat the quails for a month of days, the Gemara in Yuma explains that those who were less wicked died immediately, whereas those who were more wicked suffered for a whole month, before succumbing
A similar idea is expressed in connection with the drowning of the Egyptians (see Rashi 15:5).
Every second of life may well be precious, yet it seems that a quick death is preferable to a tortuous death.
A Little More Guilty
"And Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe, on account of the black woman that he married …" (12:1).
The Torah mentions Miriam before Aharon, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., because women are generally more talkative than men, so it appears that she pushed the issue more than her brother, and is therefore considered the more guilty of the two.
He married an 'Ishah Kushis'
" … for he married a 'black woman' " (Ibid.)
The Da'as Zekeinim M.T., citing the Book 'The Chronology of Moshe's Life', comments that this Pasuk refers, not to Tziporah, the daughter of Yisro, but to the Queen of Kush, to whom he was married for forty years (See main article; also Targum Yonasan, Rashi and Ba'al ha'Turim).
And the gist of their complaint, the D.Z explains, was that, the fact that G-d had spoken to Moshe was no reason to marry a foreign woman (after all, they argued, G-d had spoken to them as well, yet they had both married spouses from their own people).
Further proof, they say, that Miriam and Aharon could not have been referring to Tziporah, is that Moshe married her when he was a fugitive from Paroh, when there was little else he could have done.
What puzzles me however, is that Moshe married the Queen of Kush long before G-d spoke to him, so how could Miriam and Aharon possibly have attributed the former to the latter?
See main article.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BA'AL HA'TURIM
'And he said, "Don't forsake us now, for you know when we dwelt in the Desert to be judged, and you taught us how to handle the matter of judgement, and you were to us as dear as the pupil of our eyes" '(10:30).
'Shame on a nation whose food comprises bread from Heaven, yet they grumble; for the Manna resembled round coriander-seeds when it fell, and when it dried, it looked (sparkled) like crystal' (11:7).
'The Resha'im of the people would scatter to collect it; they would grind it with a hand-mill, and those who wanted would pound it in a mortar and cook it in a pot … (11:8).
""And if You do this to me, to place all their burdens on my shoulders, then kill me with the death with which the Tzadikim die … " (11:15).
"If all the sheep in Arabia and all the cattle in Navat (Keidar) will be Shechted for them, will it suffice for them … ?" (11:22).
"And the Glory of G-d's Shechinah appeared in a cloud and He spoke with him took off from the prophecy that was on him - though he did not lose any of it - and He placed it on the seventy elders … " (11:25).
"And there remained two men in the camp, the name of one of them was Eldad, and the name of the other one was Meidad, sons of Elitzafan the son of Parnach, whom Yocheved the daughter of Levi bore to him, after her husband Amram divorced her, and she was then married to him before she bore Moshe. A spirit of prophecy now rested on them; Eldad prophesied that Moshe was destined to die and Yehoshua, who served him in the tent, to take over from him and to lead the people of Yisrael, to bring them into Eretz Cana'an and distribute it to them as an inheritance. Meidad prophesied that quails would emerge from the sea and cover the entire camp of Yisrael; but they would be a stumbling-block for Yisrael. Together, they prophesied that, at the end of days, a king would arise from the land of Mogog, who will gather kings wearing crowns and princes wearing suits of mail. All the kings they said, will listen to him and will wage war in Eretz Yisrael against the exiles … but they will all die when their souls are burned in a flame of fire, which will emerge from under G-d's Throne of Glory, and their corpses will fall on the mountains of Eretz Yisrael. Then all the wild beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven will come and eat their corpses, following which all the deceased of Yisrael will come back to life and enjoy the 'treats' that were put aside for them from the time of the Creation, and they will receive reward for their good deeds. And they (Eldad & Meidad) were from the elders who came up on the lots, but they did not go to the Ohel Mo'ed, since they were hiding in their quest to run away from leadership, and they (now) prophesied in the camp" (11:26).
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AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article
reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah
A Tamei Person is Forbidden to Enter
We are obligated to prevent any Tamei person from entering the Beis-Hamikdash, for all generations. The Beis-Hamikdash incorporates the entire Azarah from the Sha'ar Nikanor (the Eastern Gate) and inwards (the area known as the Ezras Yisrael), as the Torah writes in Noso (5:3) " … and they shall not render impure their camp (i.e. the Camp of the Shechinah)", in the midst of which I dwell. As proof that this command falls into the category of La'avin, the Gemara in Makos (14b) states that somebody who enters the Beis-Hamikdash in a state of Tum'ah is Chayav Kareis, since the Torah presents both a punishment and a warning; a punishment - " … the Mikdash he has rendered Tamei and he shall be 'cut off' ", and a warning - " … and they shall not render impure their camp". The Mechilta (i.e. the Sifri Zuta) too writes "Command the B'nei Yisrael, and they shall send out of the camp … " this is an Asei. And from where do we learn that there is also a Lo'Sa'aseh? From the Pasuk " … and they shall not render impure their camp". And the prohibition is repeated in Tazri'a (12:4), where it writes (in connection with a Yoledes [a woman who has given birth]) " … and to the Mikdash she shall not come" . The Sifra comments on this 'I might have thought that one is Chayav Kareis whether one is inside it (the Beis Mikdash) or whether one is behind it, therefore the Torah writes by a Yoledes "and to the Mikdash she shall not come"; and the Sifra adds that the Din of all other Teme'im is the same as that of a Yoledes.
Regarding a reason for the Mitzvah of keeping Tum'ah from the location of the Beis-ha'Mikdash , as well as some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah, the author already wrote in the previous Mitzvah (that of sending away Teme'im from the Camp of the Shechinah). And he now adds that … whoever requires Tevilah (which coincides with any Tum'ah for whom a Nazir min ha'Torah is obligated to shave), is Chayav Kareis, should one enter the Beis-Hamikdash prior to having Toveled and waited for nightfall. But someone who becomes Tamei Meis in one of the Tum'os for which a Nazir is not obligated to shave, even though he is Tamei for seven days, he is Patur from Kareis for entering the Beis-Hamikdash. So too, is he Patur if he touches vessels which touched a person (or a person who touched vessels) who touched a corpse. He may well be a rishon le'Tum'ah as far as Tum'ah and as far as rendering Kodshim Tamei is concerned, but he is Patur from Kareis should he enter the Beis-Hamikdash. All these rulings are 'Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai'. He will however, receive Makas Mardus (mi'de'Rabbanan) … The Tum'os for which a Nazir needs to shave and those for which he isn't are explained in Masechet Nazir … Someone who throws Tamei vessels that touched a corpse into the Beis-Hamikdash is not Chayav Kareis, though he is Chayav Malkos, as the Torah writes in Acharei-Mos (17:16) " … and if he does not wash his clothes (i.e. Tovel in the Mikvah) nor his flesh … ". And we have learned by oral tradition that for failing to Tovel, one is subject to Kareis, whereas for not washing one's clothes, he receives Malkos … and all other details are discussed in the first chapter of Shevu'os, in Hori'os, in K'riysus and in various places in Zevachim. (see Rambam Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash, chapter 3).
This Mitzvah applies to men and women, even nowadays. Whoever enters the location of the Beis-Hamikdash in a state of Tum'ah (on the condition that we discussed above) is Chayav Kareis. This is because the sanctity of the Mikdash remains attached to it even today when it is desolate. For so Chazal have said (in Megilah 28a), based on the Pasuk in Bechukosai "And I will lay waste your holy places" - even when the Mikdash is destroyed, it retains its sanctity (as the author explained in Mitzvah 184).
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