SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'HAALOS'CHO 5764 BS"D
Ch. 11, v. 5: "Zocharnu es hadogoh asher nochal b'Mitzrayim chinom eis
hakishuim v'eis ho'avatichim" - We have remembered the fish that we ate in Egypt
gratis the gourds and the melons - Why indeed did the lowly slaves have fish
gratis? All vegetation was sustained by tributaries drawn from the Nile. The Nile
was replete with fish. Not only did the water flow in the tributaries, but
also fish swam in them and washed up onto the land. Thus the bnei Yisroel found
fish among their vegetables. We can now explain the words "EIS hakishuim v'EIS
ho'avatichim" as WITH the gourds and WITH the melons. (Rabbi Yitzchok Karo in
Ch. 11, v. 5: "Asher nochal" - Which we WILL eat - This is the literal
translation of "nochal." Since the bnei Yisroel were reminiscing about the fish they
ATE in Egypt why did they say "Nochal" rather than "ochalnu," in the past
tense? They surely didn't receive fish or vegetables gratis. If they were not
even given straw for the bricks that they made surely they did not receive food
for free. Rather, they were saying that once they had left Egypt for a while,
they were sure that upon their return, the Egyptians would be so appreciative
that they would give them these items gratis. (Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi in
Ch. 12, v. 3: "V'ho'ish Moshe onov m'ode mikole ho'odom asher al pnei
ho'adomoh" - And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble more so than any person on the
face of the earth - Moshe was the greatest prophet who ever lived, and whoever
would be a prophet in the future, obviously knew of his own greatness. If so,
how could he be so humble? A well-known answer is that although he surely
recognized his greatness he felt that there was nothing about which to be so
proud. He felt that he was given a special heavenly gift. Had someone else had the
same opportunity he would have developed into an even greater person.
Alternatively, he indeed did not have an accurate picture of himself. He was so
self-effacing that he felt that he fell short of his capacity.
A most enlightening answer is offered by Rabbi Meir Simchoh haKohein, not in
his classic Meshech Chochmoh, but rather in his commentary Ohr So'mei'ach on
the Rambam hilchos teshuvoh 4:4, in the name of his grandfather Rabbi Chaninoh.
Near the end of his very lengthy comments on the famous words of the Rambam
dealing with the question of predetermination, reward and punishment, and free
choice, he writes that since Moshe ascended to the heavens and was privy to
see a glimpse of Hashem's sanctity that no one else ever saw, he clearly saw the
connection between the spiritual and the physical. All his future actions had
the added impetus of knowing as an eyewitness the results of complying or
ch"v not complying with Hashem's wishes. Whenever a mitzvoh came his way he had
no test. His belief in Hashem was not a test, as he had actually entered
heaven. Moshe was therefore not as great as any other ben Yisroel in this aspect.
Everyone else believed in Hashem without seeing, did mitzvos, and refrained from
doing negative precepts with the strength of belief only.
A proof for this is that Hashem told Moshe, "v'gam b'cho yaaminu l'olom"
(Shmos 19:9). How could Hashem guarantee this if Moshe still had free will?
Perhaps he would later ch"v become a sinner and people would rightfully loose their
trust in him. We clearly see that Moshe had such powerfully clear
manifestations that he was beyond this.
He goes on to explain an argument in the Sifri on our parsha piska #45 based
on these words of his grandfather. The Sifri explains the words of verse 7,
"b'chol beisi ne'emon hu," in all My house Moshe is trustworthy. The Sifri
brings an opinion that Moshe is not more trustworthy than the angels, and Rabbi
Yosi posits that he is more trustworthy than even the angels. Rabbi Meir Simchoh
explains "ne'emon," as one who acts out of faith. There is an argument between
the Rabonon and Rabbi Yosi in the Mechilta parshas "bachodesh" parsha #4 if
Hashem lowered the heavens down to Har Sinai's peak (Rabonon), or if only
Hashem's voice emanated from the top of the mountain (Rabbi Yosi). It follows in
kind that if Moshe was actually in the heavens he had at least the same exposure
to Hashem as the angels and just as the angels are creatures that have no
choice to do right or wrong because of their open exposure to Hashem's sanctity,
so too, Moshe had this same exposure, and in turn had no more faith,
"ne'emon," than did the angels. Rabbi Yosi, who posits that Moshe did not literally
ascend to heaven, and in turn had less spiritual exposure than the angels did,
likewise was more "ne'emon," acted more out of faith and trust, than did the
Ch. 12, v. 3: "Onov" - Humble - The gemara Brochos 56a says that gourds
appear in a dream only to a person who is G-d fearing with all his being. Rabbi
Naturnai Gaon was asked for an explanation of this enigmatic statement. He
responded that he was not given an explanation by his teachers but offered his own
insight. Gourds grow very large and are too heavy to be staked. Therefore they
grow lying on the ground. This is symbolic of the humility of great people.
(It seems he equated a totally G-d fearing person with one who is very humble.)
They are spiritually very large and in spite of this they lie very low, i.e.
they behave humbly.
Ch. 12, v. 13: "R'fo noh loh" - Heal her please/now - The Sefer Chasidim
derives from the use of the pronoun "loh," rather than saying "l'Miriam," that
when one prays for the well being of a person it is not necessary to mention the
person's name. In a previous edition we have brought the difference between
praying for someone who is in front of the supplicant and one who is not.
Perhaps another insight can be gleaned from Moshe's use of the pronoun "loh,"
rather than mentioning his sister by name. The story is told of the great
tzadik Rabbi Yeshaya'leh of Kerestir who was greatly distressed by his son's
being gravely ill. A relative came to visit Rabbi Yeshaya'leh and attempted to
calm him by saying that will Hashem's help his son will regain his full health.
Rabbi Yeshaya'leh responded, "Although I am concerned about my child's health,
I am exceedingly bothered with myself. I had always thought that I had true
love of my fellow ben Yisroel. When someone came to me to report that a relative
was ill and asked me to pray for his recovery I was quite pained by hearing
that someone was so ill. Now that my own son is ill I realize that I am more
pained by this than by another's illness. It is this lack of proper concern for
another person that pains me so extremely, and not the illness itself."
Moshe's love for his fellow ben Yisroel was so strong that he prayed for
Miriam's well being in the same manner as he would pray for a stranger, "loh,"
heal HER. (Nirreh li)
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