Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 11   No. 52

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l'iluy Nishmas Yitel bas Aba o.h.
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Ve'Zos ha'Brachah

The Day That Moshe Died
(Adapted from the Rosh on the Chumash)

When the time came for Moshe to die, he declared 'I will not die, for I will live and relate the deeds of G-d'. But G-d replied in the negative, and that Moshe was obligated to go the way of all mankind.

So as a final request, Moshe asked that all the gates and all the depths should split open, and the nations of the world should see with their own eyes that there is no-one besides G-d. When G-d complied, Moshe announced 'Ein od mi'Levado (There is none besides Him)!' G-d's response was that 'Since you said about me 'There is none other besides Me', I will say about you "And there never arose a Navi in Yisrael like Moshe" '.


At that point, G-d Himself descended together with the three Angels, Micha'el, Gavri'el and Zagnegi'el. Gavri'el spread a sheet on Moshe's bed, Micha'el a purple cover, and Zangnegi'el a cushion made of a precious wool. At that moment, G-d stood at his head and Zagnegi'el at his feet, Micha'el on one side and Gavri'el on the other. G-d ordered him to place his feet together, which he did, and to close his eye-lids one on the other, which he did.

Then He gently called his Soul to leave him, explaining how he had allotted for her a hundred and twenty years to be inside the body of Moshe, and how the time to leave it had now arrived. To which she replied that, in spite of knowing that G-d was the Master of Spirits and Souls, she did not wish to leave Moshe's body, since there was no purer body in the world than it, a body that would not be subject to worms after death, and no fly or hornet had ever approached it during its lifetime. That was why she loved Moshe's body and did not want to depart from it.

G-d replied that she should no longer delay, for her time had expired, and He would take her to the uppermost Heaven, and place her beneath His Throne of Glory, beside the Serafim, the Ofanim and the Angels. Yet again, she refused, insisting that she preferred to be inside the body of Moshe than in the company of the Keruvim and the Angels. And this time, she argued that two Angels, Uza and Aza'el, had descended to earth (prior to the Great Flood), had desired the daughters of the land and had even had relations with them, and had corrupted their ways, until G-d took them and suspended them between Heaven and earth. In contrast, Moshe had separated from his wife from the time that G-d revealed Himself to him at the Burning Bush. When G-d saw how loathe Moshe's Soul was to leave its body, He drew her out with a kiss.


At that moment, G-d wept and announced 'Who will stand up for Me against the evil-doers' Who will pray to Me on behalf of My children?' And the Angels wept and announced 'Where is wisdom to be found, and where is the location of understanding?'

Whilst the Heavens wept and announced 'The Tzadik is lost and nobody cares ... They fail to understand that he was gathered in so that he should not see the evil that is destined to befall the world'.

The sun and the moon wept and announced 'Understand you stupid people', and the Mazalos wept and announced 'and when will you foolish ones become wise?' And the Divine Spirit said 'Save oh G-d, for the pious are no more'.


"And there did not arise in Yisrael a Navi like Moshe". This is what Shlomoh Hamelech was referring to when he wrote in Mishlei (31:29) "Many daughters did acts of valour, but you exceeded them all". How is that?

Adam ha'Rishon claimed that he was greater than Moshe, in that he was created in the image of G-d. But Moshe replied that he was greater than Adam, for whereas Adam was stripped of the glory that was given to him when he was created, his remained with him even on the day of death, as the Pasuk testifies "and his moist did not depart from him".

No'ach claimed that he was greater than Moshe, since he was saved from the Great Flood. But Moshe replied that he was greater still, for whereas he (No'ach) was not able to save his generation, he succeeded in saving Yisrael from extinction following the episode with the Golden Calf.

Avraham claimed that he was greater than Moshe, since he fed and sustained the wayfarers. But Moshe replied that he was greater still, for where Avraham had sustained gentiles, he had sustained the Jewish nation; and whereas Avraham fed them in inhabited land, he had fed them in the desert.

Yitzchak claimed that he was greater than Moshe, because he had been bound on the Mizbei'ach and had, out of love for Hashem, stretched out his neck to be slaughtered, at which point he saw the Shechinah. But Moshe replied that whereas he (Yitzchak) had become virtually blind upon beholding the Shechinah, he (Moshe) spoke with the Shechinah, and as the Pasuk testifies, "his eyes did not become dim".

Ya'akov claimed that he was greater than Moshe, for he struggled with an Angel and overcame him. But Moshe replied that if he met an angel on home ground, he (Moshe) met angels on their territory, in spite of which it was they who were afraid of him.

And this is what Shlomoh meant when he said "Many daughters did acts of valour, but you (Moshe) exceeded them all".

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Rosh on the Chumash)

G-d's Idea ... Or Was It?

"And this is the blessing that Moshe, a man of G-d, blessed the B'nei Yisrael ... " (33:1).

The reason that the Torah refers to Moshe here as "a man of G-d", says the Rosh, is to inform us that Moshe blessed the people at the behest of Hashem (despite the fact that the rest of Seifer Devarim was said on his own initiative (as we explained last week).

Interestingly, the Or ha'Chayim explains just the opposite. Quoting the Chazal that 'when a Tzadik decrees, G-d responds', he explains that the Torah describes Moshe as 'a man of G-d', to stress that all Moshe's own blessings were condoned by G-d, and were therefore bound to materialize.


Moshe and the Angel of Death

" ... before his death" (ibid.)

The Rosh cites a Medrash which relates how, when the Mal'ach ha'Ma'ves (Angel of Death) came to take Moshe's Soul, he (Moshe) took hold of him and tied him up until he had finished blessing all the tribes. Only then did he free him.

In Parshas Ha'azinu, he cited a Medrash describing the following scenario - When the Mal'ach ha'Ma'ves informed Moshe that G-d had sent him to take his Soul, Moshe ordered him to leave, since he was about to sing G-d's praises, adding 'I will not die, but I will live!'

'Why are you boasting?', the Mal'ach rebuked him.'Many of G-d's creations do the very same thing', as the Pasuk writes "The Heavens tell the glory of G-d ..."

'I will silence them all with my praises", replied Moshe, and he began to pronounce the Holy Name of Hashem (as the Pasuk writes there "When I call out the Name of Hashem ..."), at which the Mal'ach ha'Ma'ves fled from before Moshe.

When he returned a third time, Moshe realized that he had truly been sent by G-d, and began to recite 'Tziduk ha'Din' (the acceptance of the Divine death-sentence), as the Pasuk continues "The Rock, whose work is perfect ... ".


Moshe's Superhuman Strength

"And for the strong hand ... " (34:12).

See Moshe's remarkable strength. The Luchos were six Tefachim by six Tefachim and were made of sapphire. At the time when G-d informed Moshe that Yisrael were worshipping the Eigel ha'Zahav, Moshe was holding two Tefachim and G-d was holding two Tefachim (with two Tefachim in the middle). G-d actually wanted to take them back; however, He granted Moshe the strength to snatch them from him, enabling him to take them and return with them to the camp.


All for the Sake of Yisrael

"which Moshe did in front of the whole of Yisrael" (ibid.)

The vast majority of prophesies of the other Nevi'im were issued on behalf of individuals, the Rosh observes, such Eliyahu regarding the Tzorfatis ("the oil and the flour will not cease ... "), and Elisha regarding the wife of Ovadyah ("Borrow vessels from all your neighbors").

Moshe Rabeinu was unique, inasmuch as all his prophesies were performed on behalf of Yisrael for all time, and before the very eyes of the entire nation.


Only Those Who Convert

"Even when He endeared the nations, all the holy ones are in Your Hands" (33:3).

According to Rashi, this Pasuk refers to the tribes of Yisrael. The Rosh however, interprets it with regard to the righteous gentiles. Even when G-d expresses His fondness of the gentiles, He only chooses the holy ones among them, those who sacrifice themselves to Him completely by converting to Judaism.


Reuven Will Live ...

"Reuven will live and not die ..." (33:6).

According to Rashi, this Pasuk refers to Reuven's sin with his father's wife Bilhah. The Rosh however, explains that it refers to the promise of the tribes of Reuven and Gad to lead Yisrael into battle during the conquest of Cana'an. They would fulfill this undertaking, this Pasuk is teaching us, and not one of them would die. It is not clear however, as to why Moshe said this about Reuven and not Gad and half of Menasheh, to whom it was equally applicable.

And what's more ...


And Yehudah Too

" ... and this pertains to Yehudah (as well)" (33:7).

After all, says the Rosh, if Reuven and Gad, who only led Yisrael temporarily (for seven years) needed such an assurance, Yehudah, who led Yisrael to war permanently, certainly did. And it is in these Pesukim, that Moshe prayed for the success of Reuven and Yehudah.

See also Rashi.


The Strength of Aharon

"May G-d bless his strength ... " (33:11).

This entire Pasuk refers to Aharon ha'Kohen, when, immediately after the episode with Korach, he saved Yisrael from a plague, using the Ketores (see Korach 17:11-13).

"May G-d bless his strength" - when Aharon stops the plague with the Ketores.

"and May You accept the work of his hands" - when he also attains an atonement by the same means.

"Split the loins of those who arise against him" - when he wrestles with the Angel of Death and stops him in his tracks. "and his enemies, until they can no longer arise" - once and for all.

When Aharon saw the Angel of Death threatening him, Rebbi Aba explains, he took the pan with the Ketores and placed it in front of him, as the previous Pasuk writes "They place the Ketores in Your nostrils".

This teaches us how precious the Ketores is in the eyes of G-d.


Yosef and Adam

"And to Yosef he said, his Land is blessed by Hashem" (33:13).

Yosef's inheritance was blessed more than any other tribe, the Rosh explains, because when Adam sinned by listening to his wife, his land (the world which he owned) was cursed. Consequently, when Yosef refused to listen to his mistress, his land was blessed.


Geresh = Sheger

"And from the sweet things that the moon drives out (causes to grow)" 33:14. See Rashi.

The B'chor Shor points out that "geresh" by plants contains the same letters and has the same meaning as "sheger" by animals (See Eikev 7:13). Hence the one (in its context) means the baby that the mother animal casts out of its womb, and the other (in our Pasuk) the crops that the moon causes the ground to cast out (Rosh).

The Rosh also cites the B'chor Shor later in the Parshah (Pasuk 20), where he explains why it is that Gad severs "the arm together with the head" (see Rashi).

He explains that when Gad would raise his sword to strike the enemy, the latter would instinctively lift up his arm to protect his head, at which point, the soldier from Gad would sever his shoulder.


The Great Increase

"Blessed be Asher from the sons" (33:24).

The Pasuk might mean that all the other sons of Ya'akov would bless Asher because of the (olive) oil with which he was blessed and with which he kept them provided. See also Targum Yonasan.

Rashi cites a Sifri 'None of the tribes was blessed with sons like Asher', adding that he does not know what the Sifri means. The Rosh however, citing Rebbi Eli'av ha'Kohen ... , explains that if one compares the size of each tribe at the first count to its numbers at the second count, it is clear that none of the tribes increased like that of Asher, which numbered forty-one thousand five hundred at the first count and fifty-three thousand, four hundred at the second (an increase of almost thirty per cent) And that, he says, is what the Sifri is referring to.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Mitzvah 321:
Desisting from Melachah on Shemini Atzeres

It is a Mitzvah to desist on Shemini Atzeres (the twenty-second of Tishri) from Melachos that are not connected with the preparation of food, , as the Torah writes in Emor (23:35) "On the eighth day, there shall be for you a holy calling". The author has already discussed a reason for the Mitzvah in Mitzvah 297, and he will add to this in the Mitzvah that discusses the prohibition of doing work on Shemini Atzeres (Mitzvah 323 that follows).

This Mitzvah applies at all times to men and women alike, despite the fact that it is a Mitzvas Asei that is time-bound. This is because there is also a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh, and the Gemara on Kidushin (35a) derives from the Pasuk in Bamidbar "A man or a woman who do any of the sins of man ... ", that women are subject to all punishments (e.g. Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh, which is generally synonymous with Malkos), and whoever is subject to the Lo Sa'aseh is subject to the Asei, too. Someone who contravenes this Mitzvah and fails to 'rest' on Shemini Atzeres, has negated a Mitzvas Asei, over and above the La'av, as we will explain.


Mitzvah 323:
Not to Do Melachah on Shemini Atzeres

Not to do Melachah on the eighth day of Succos (the twenty-second day of Tishri), as the Torah writes in Emor (23:36) "On the eighth day is a holy calling, you shall not do any servile work on it". This Yom-Tov is called 'Chag ha'Atzeres', Chazal explain, because it is the culmination of the Yamim-Tovim. It is as if G-d declared to Yisrael 'Remain with Me one more day, because it is difficult for Me to separate from you'.

The author has already explained how the prohibition of Melachah is the same on each of the Yamim-Tovim. He now elaborates on the Chachamim's statement that Shemini Atzeres is an independent Chag. You may well see everybody sitting in his Succah on the first of the two last days of Succos (in Chutz la'Aretz), However, this is not because it is part of the Chag, for we explicitly recite (in the Tefilos of the day) 'es yom ha'Shemini Chag ha'Atzeres ha'zeh', without any mention of Succos. It is due to the two Yamim-Tovim of Galuyos that we need to sit in the Succah for eight days, instead of the seven prescribed by the Torah. Indeed, the Chachamim say we sit in the Succah (in order to fulfill our obligation, now that the Chachamim obligated us to add one day on to each Yom-Tov), but we do not recite a B'rachah over the Succah. This is because it is really a different Yom-Tov (particularly in that nowadays we are experts in the fixing of the months, and we know that it is the eighth day and not the seventh). Consequently, it is better to recite the appropriate B'rachah for Shemini Atzeres, which we know it is, rather than for the Takanas Chachamim of sitting in the Succah.

Perhaps you will ask why we do not incorporate both Yamim-Tovim in the B'rachah, and say 'be'yom Chag ha'Sukos u've'Yom ha'Shemini Chag ha'Atzeres ha'zeh, like we do when Yom-Tov falls on Shabbos? The answer is that whereas Shabbos and Yom-Tov that fall at the same time are considered one day, Succos and Shemini Atzeres, which can never fall simultaneously, are two distinct days.

On the other hand, merely sitting in the Succah on Shemini Atzeres, does no harm, seeing as it is performed in order to fulfill the Takanas Chachamim of two days Yom-Tov, as we explained earlier.

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