THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Bava Basra, 75
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1) MOSHE, LIKE THE SUN; YEHOSHUA, LIKE THE MOON
AGADAH: The Gemara says that in the World to Come, a person will experience
great shame when he sees the reward that the other person receives. To
demonstrate, the Gemara relates that the elders of the generation that left
Mitzrayim commented, "The face of Moshe shines like the sun while the face
of Yehoshua only shines like the moon!" The Gemara says, "Woe to one who
bears such shame; woe to one who bears such humiliation!"
What is meant by the analogy between Moshe and Yehoshua, and the sun and the
moon? In order to attain a deeper understanding of this Agadah, we must
first analyze the difference between Yehoshua's leadership and Moshe's
leadership from the Torah's perspective.
(a) The Gemara in Sanhedrin (8a) says that Moshe told Yehoshua, "You will
come *with* the Jewish people into the promised land (Devarim 31:7); the
elders and you will lead the people together." Hashem corrected him,
insisting that he tell Yehoshua, "You will *bring* the Jewish people into
the land which I have promised (Devarim 31:23); take a stick and beat the
elders until they follow your orders! There can only be one leader in each
generation; there cannot be a joint leadership!" Yehoshua would not be able
to lead the Jews properly if other elders or prophets would join him. The
concept of joint leadership was foreign to him.
In fact, Yehoshua himself expressed this on another occasion. When Moshe
appointed the seventy elders to their position of authority, he asked them
to join him in front of the Mishkan. There he "kindled their spirits" and
caused them to experience prophetic visions. Two others, Eldad and Meidad,
prophesied without Moshe's help while they were still in the camp. When
Yehoshua heard of this, he came running to Moshe, calling for Moshe to put
an end to the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad (Bamidbar 11:26-9). Yehoshua
could not tolerate independent prophets to be declaring the word of Hashem
simultaneously. He therefore assumed the two self-declared prophets to be
fabricating. Moshe, however, saw things differently. His reaction to
Yehoshua was, "Would that Hashem would make *all* of His people into
prophets by resting His spirit upon them!" As far as he was concerned, it
was perfectly acceptable for numerous prophets to lead the people jointly.
In fact, Hashem explicitly told Moshe to appoint elders "so that they may
bear the burden of the people *together* with you" (Bamidbar 11:17). This
was probably why Moshe originally instructed Yehoshua to lead *with* the
elders -- just as Moshe himself had done.
(b) Why, though, was Moshe different? Why was he exempt from the rule of
"one leader per generation?" The RAMBAM describes the difference between
Moshe's prophecy and that of all other prophets as follows: "All the other
prophets received their prophecy through an angel. This is why they saw what
they saw only as a metaphoric vision or a non-explicit statement (that must
first be interpreted before it is understood). Moshe, however, did not
receive his prophecies through an angel.... He did not see a metaphoric
vision, but rather Hashem revealed His word to Moshe clearly.... [Because of
his unique closeness to the Divine word,] Moshe's face radiated light and he
became as spiritual as the angels" (Yesodei ha'Torah 7:6; see also chapter 7
of "Shemoneh Perakim.") This is also the meaning of the Gemara in Yevamos
(49b) that states, "Moshe saw a clear reflection, while the others saw an
Normally, a successful leadership requires appointing one person as the sole
authority. This is because each leader has his own distinct personality, and
the differences between the personalities of two leaders will inevitably be
expressed in their leadership decisions. Even if the leaders base their
decisions on Divine revelation (as was the case in the times of Yehoshua),
they are still liable to have differences of opinion. This is because, as
the Rambam explains, a prophet's vision is still open to interpretation.
Since the prophet's own input is required, the interpretation of his
prophecy will inevitably be affected by his own unique personality. This is
why we find that "two prophets never prophecy with an identical phraseology"
(Sanhedrin 89a). Even two prophets would not be perfectly compatible
leaders, since their differing personalities would be reflected in their
interpretation of their prophecies.
Moshe's leadership was different. He did not merely see a vision; he heard
the actual words of Hashem, which was able to pass on to others. He kindled
the prophetic spirit of the seventy elders "as one candle kindles another"
(Bamidbar 11:17, and Rashi there). Since Moshe's prophecy was the *source*
of the elders' prophecy, the elders would never reach a conclusion that was
contrary to Moshe's own conclusion. All of their decisions would be
unanimous. Similarly, on the occasion that Eldad and Meidad prophesied in
the camp, they received the Divine word directly from Hashem, due to the
influence of Moshe. They did not simply see a vision, as did normal
prophets. (This is why the two were able to prophecy with an identical
phraseology, contrary to the rule cited above.) They, too, would be no
threat to Moshe's leadership. Since they saw clearly the will of Hashem,
they could only agree to what Moshe, who experienced the exact same
prophecy, would decide.
Yehoshua, on the other hand, was like any other prophet. He could not "bring
down" prophecy for others; he could only receive his own personal prophecy
which would be affected by his own personality. Therefore, he would have to
lead single-handedly. For the same reason, Yehoshua did not believe that
Eldad and Meidad were true prophets. He assumed that all other prophets were
like himself and could not be granted prophecy independently of Moshe while
Moshe was leader.
This explains why Moshe told Yehoshua to lead *with* the elders. Moshe
thought that his student Yehoshua would lead in the same manner that he
himself led. He assumed that the elders could lead the generation together
with him, just as they did with Moshe. Hashem, however, knew that this was
not the case. Yehoshua would not be able to "share" his perception with the
elders, since he would only perceive a weak reflection of Hashem's word.
Hashem therefore told Moshe, "He should take a stick and beat them until
they obey!" Yehoshua must lead alone.
(c) Based on this, we can understand the an analogy between Moshe and the
sun, and Yehoshua and the moon. The sun not only shines in the heavens, it
illuminates the other bodies of the heavens as well. The moon and the
planets, in contrast, shine only due to their reflection of the light of the
sun. It is in this manner that Moshe resembled the sun and Yehoshua
resembled the moon. Moshe was able to be a source of prophetic illumination
to others, such as the seventy elders (which is what caused his facial
radiance, as the Rambam mentions). Yehoshua, though, could only become
illuminated with the Divine light through a "reflection" of the original
light ("an unclear reflection"). He could not illuminate others. (The Zohar
(Shemos 215a) spells out that this is indeed the meaning of the comparison
between Moshe and Yehoshua and the sun and the moon.)
Perhaps it is for this reason that specifically the *elders* commented on
Yehoshua's likeness to the moon. According to what we have described, the
analogy between Yehoshua and the moon was most evident to the elders. It was
the elders who would suffer the consequences of Yehoshua's inferiority to
Moshe. The elders that led the generation together with Yehoshua's master,
Moshe, would not be able to lead together with Yehoshua. This is why it was
specifically the *elders* who noted Yehoshua's likeness to the moon! (M.
Kornfeld. See YA'AROS DEVASH of RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ, Derush #11, and
BIRCHAS AVRAHAM of RAV ABISH'L FRANKFURTER, Eruvin 63a.)
2) DOING "MESHICHAH" TO ACQUIRE AN ANIMAL
QUESTION: Rav and Shmuel argue with regard to how much a person must pull a
boat in order to be Koneh it through the act of Meshichah. Rav says that one
needs only to pull it a small amount. Shmuel says that one must pull the
boat so that it moves entirely out of the place in which it was standing.
The Gemara cites a Beraisa and suggests that Rav's view is supported by the
opinion of the Tana Kama in the Beraisa. In describing the way to be Koneh
an animal through Meshichah, the Tana Kama states that when the animal moves
a foreleg and a hind leg, it is considered a valid Meshichah even though the
other two legs have not moved. This implies that the animal does not have to
leave its original place entirely, but rather it suffices that it move a
small amount. The Gemara responds that Shmuel, too, might agree with the
Tana Kama, because doing Meshichah to be Koneh an animal is different than
doing Meshichah to be Koneh a boat. Once an animal has moved two legs, the
other two legs are certainly going to follow, and thus as soon as it moves
two legs it is considered as though it has moved all four legs.
How does this answer how Shmuel can agree with the Tana Kama? Even though it
is considered as though the animal has moved all four legs, even when the
animal moves all four legs it is still partly in the place in which it was
originally standing! It has not moved entirely out of its place, which
Shmuel maintains is a necessary requirement for the Kinyan of Meshichah to
ANSWER: The RASHBA and RITVA explain that when an animal moves even a small
amount by moving all four legs, it is comparable to a boat moving entirely
out of its place. This also seems to be the intention of the RASHBAM and
RABEINU GERSHOM (DH Idach).
The logic for this distinction seems to be that when a boat is pulled, it is
constantly in contact with the water (or ground) underneath it. If it is
partially in the place in which it was standing previously, then it has not
yet been lifted off of its place. In contrast, the only part of an animal
that rests on the ground is its hooves. As long as it moves each leg out of
the place in which that leg was standing previously, it is considered
Meshichah. According to this understanding, if the animal would place its
hoof down only slightly forward such that the back part of the hoof is
resting in the place that the front hoof was resting previously, it would
not be a valid Meshichah.
Alternatively, when an animal lifts all four legs, there was a moment at
which each leg was actually lifted off of the ground on which it stood.
Therefore it is considered to have been moved entirely from its place as
soon as it places all four legs on different places than the places on which
they were standing previously. According to this understanding, if the
animal would place its hoof down only slightly forward such that the back
part of the hoof is resting in the place that the front hoof was resting
previously, it *would* be a valid Meshichah.
According to both explanations, if a person physically drags an animal along
the ground, he would have to drag it completely out of its resting place in
order for the Meshichah to be valid, just like the Meshichah required for a