December 19, 2013

Shemot Chapter 6. verse 1. And the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a mighty hand he will send them out, and with a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”

א. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל משֶׁה עַתָּה תִרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לְפַרְעֹה כִּי בְיָד חֲזָקָה יְשַׁלְּחֵם וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה יְגָרְשֵׁם מֵאַרְצוֹ:

To which Rashi comments. Now you will see, etc.: You have questioned My ways [of running the world, which is] unlike Abraham, to whom I said, “For in Isaac will be called your seed” (Gen. 21:12), and afterwards I said to him, “Bring him up there for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2), yet he did not question Me. Therefore, NOW you will see what is done to Pharaoh you will see, but not what is done to the kings of the seven nations when I bring them [the children of Israel] into the land [of Israel]. — [Sanhedrin 111a]

We all thought that we knew the reason that Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel. In the Book of Numbers (chapter 20) we are told the story of the People’s request for water in the desert and of Moses hitting the stone in an effort to satisfy their need. There it says: “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation to the Land…” (Numbers 20:12) How then can Rashi say about our verse that the reason Moses did not lead the People into Israel was that he showed a lack of faith in his reaction to Pharaoh’s worsening the conditions of slavery?

The answer is to be found in the brilliant supra-commentary on Rashi called Gur Aryeh by the Maharal of Prague in Behaalotcha ובסבור שהוא נכנס אף על גב שכבר אמר לו השם בסוף פרשת שמות עתה תראה ולא את העשוי לשלושים ואחד מלכים ואם כן ידע שלא יכנס הרי תירץ רשי בעצמו שהגזירה עדיין לא נגזרה….וגו״ But the main explanation is in Chukkat שלא ירבה בתפילה מכאן משמע שחטא משה היה שנגזר עליו שלא יביא אותם לארץ בשביל מי מריבה ואלו בפרשת שמות משמע בשביל שאמר ומאז באתי אל פרעה לדבר בשמך נגזר עליו שלא יבא לארץ כדפי רשי שם ונראה דודאי דמה שאמר לו הקבייה עתה תראה ולא את העשוי לשלושים ואחד מלכים לא נשמע אלא מכח דיוק שכך אמר את זה תראה אבל לא אחד ושלשים מלכים אבל לא קאמר שלא תראה דאם כ הוי גזירהאין זה גזירה גמורה דגל דבר שאינו יוצא מפי ה אינו גזירה וגיי דברים הם. האחד קודם הגזירה. וגזירה בלא שבועה. וגזר דין שיש עמו שבועה . וקודם גזר דין קודם שגזר הקבייה שכך יהיה אלא שכך הוא רוצה לעשות והוא נקרא עלה במחשבה ואין צריך כל כך תפילה וזכות גדול שתתבטל אבל בשנגזרה אי אפשר שתתבטל אלא על ידי תפילה וצעקה גדולה וזכות גדול ואחר גזר דין שיש עמו שבועה אין מועיל לא תפילה ולא צעקה…..

The Maharal explains that there are different levels of communication from HaShem to His prophet Moshe in the Torah. The first level is hint or allusion. Now you will see. The inference being that later you will not see. But this is not stated explicitly. And perhaps the inference wasn’t even understood. The second is a ” gezeira” or decree. This decree was in a sense brought on to himself by Moshe Rabbenu. Numbers 11:15 “If this is how You deal with me, then kill me now, if I have found favour in Your eyes, and let me not see my evil.” This too can be reversed by prayer and supplication. The third level is a gezeira with a “shevua” promise. This we find in Numbers 20:12 HaShem said to Moshe and Aharon, because you did not believe in Me to sanctify in the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the Land which I have given them. This, according to the Maharal, cannot be reversed. I must point out, however, that this does not fit in with the Rambam’s view that an evil prophecy can be reversed. And it would seem that Moshe Rabbenu, himself, did not learn like the Maharal, as continued to pray hard to enter Israel, as in va’etchanan! Nevertheless, the Maharal is crucial to understanding Rashi on our posuk this week and teaching us that there are indeed different levels of communication in the Torah. (See for example Numbers 32:25-27 – as my lord (Moshe) commands – a permanent instruction. As my lord speaks – a one off instruction for that specific situation.

Rashi teaches us to be sensitive to the level of communication at all times. Hint, allusion, inference, command, dibbur, amira, zivuy, suggestion, decree etc etc. Good Shabbes. Rabbi Wise


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