Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d On the Parsha


By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

Eiver Ha’Yardein versus Eretz Yisrael Proper

Moshe Rabbeinu rejoiced,” Rashi writes from the Medrash, “when he entered the inheritance of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein [in Eiver Ha’Yardein]. He thought this meant that his having been barred from Eretz Yisrael was nullified. This is akin to a king who decreed upon his son that he may not enter the palace. The king entered through the gate, and his son followed. He entered the courtyard, and his son followed. He entered the foyer, and his son followed. When he was about to enter the inner chamber, though, the king said to his son, ‘My son, from this point on you may not enter’.”

There is a difference of opinion amongst the Rishonim as to the halachik status of Eiver Ha’Yardein. In Nedarim 22a the Ran says that Eiver Ha’Yardein does not have the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael as far as the korban omer is concerned. The barley used for the korban omer, which is brought on the second day of Pesach, must be harvested from Eretz Yisrael. The Ran’s assertion that it cannot come from Eiver Ha’Yardein demonstrates that his opinion is that Eiver Ha’Yardein does not possess the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael proper. Rashi in Sanhedrin 11b, though, explicitly says that the omer can in fact be brought from Eiver Ha’Yardein. The Ramban concurs with Rashi and says that Eiver Ha’Yardein is included in the inherent kedusha of Eretz Yisrael proper, and, even if it wasn’t originally part of Eretz Yisrael proper, it became so through the communal conquest thereof. Kibush rabim – a communal conquest – is a mechanism through which lands can be incorporated into the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael (see Rambam Hilchos Melachim 5:6).

This raises a number of questions, though. 1) If Eiver Ha’Yardein is in fact part of Eretz Yisrael, why was Moshe Rabbeinu allowed into it? 2) Chazal tell us that the reason Moshe Rabbeinu davened so many times to enter Eretz Yisrael is in order to be able to fulfill the mitzvos that are possible only in Eretz Yisrael. If Eiver Ha’Yardein has all those mitzvos, though, what was he missing?[1] 3) The Medrash (Devarim Rabbah 5:8) says that Yosef merited being buried in Eretz Yisrael because he identified with it, as we see from the fact that he did not object when Potiphar’s wife called him an Ish Ivri.  Moshe Rabbeinu, though, did not object when he was referred to by the daughters of Yisro as an Ish Mitzri; therefore, he did not merit being buried in Eretz Yisrael. If Eiver Ha’Yardein is part of Eretz Yisrael, though, how can the Medrash say that he was not buried in Eretz Yisrael? On top of these three questions, we also need to ask what exactly Chazal meant by calling Eretz Yisrael of the western side of the Yardein a “kiton” (inner chamber)? What is the significance of that appellation?

The foundational resolution to all these questions can be found in the Tashbeitz who says that the mitzvos that Moshe Rabbeinu was missing in Eiver Ha’Yardein are a) wiping out Amaleik, and b) building the Beis Ha’Mikdash. Indeed, the Medrash says (Bamidbar Rabbah 7:8) that only Eretz Yisrael of the western side of the Yardein possesses the level of kedusha necessary to serve as a Makom Ha’Mikdash. In fact, this is practically explicit in one of the final accounts of Sefer Yehoshua. Immediately upon the return of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein to their inheritance in Eiver Ha’Yardein – following their having fulfilled their commitment to participate and take a leading role in the conquest and division of Eretz Yisrael proper – they built a giant mizbeiach. The rest of Klal Yisrael, led by Yehoshua, became gravely concerned by this turn of events and even prepared for possible battle. As it turned out, Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein did so only to serve as a marker for all generations that they are a full-fledged part of Klal Yisrael, not to be used for actual korbanos. Before that had become clarified, though, they were charged with the following words: temeiah eretz achuzaschem, if you are unhappy with the fact that your inheritance is “impure”, you are welcome to come back and join us here in Eretz Yisrael proper!” Rashi there explains that the word temeiah is meant to imply: Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu did not choose it as the dwelling place of His Shechina.

Yes, Eiver Ha’Yardein possesses the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael (according to many Rishonim), but it does not have the level of kedusha that Eretz Yisrael proper has which makes it suited to serve as the location of the Beis Ha’Mikdash. It does not have the level for hashraas ha’Shechina.

The Medrash says that the words v’chieper admaso amo means that anyone who is buried in Eretz Yisrael as is if he is buried under the mizbeiach. Just like the mizbeiach is a vehicle of atonement, so too is being buried in Eretz Yisrael a vehicle of atonement. With the above in mind, we understand this on a more profound level. Because it is Eretz Yisrael proper, in particular, that contains the kedusha necessary for Beis Ha’Mikdash, Shechina, and avodas ha’korbanos, one who is buried in its soil gains a deep connection to that power. A closeness to it. Eiver Ha’Yardein, although it has – according to many Rishonimkedushas Eretz Yisrael as far as most mitzvos ha’tluyos ba’aretz are concerned, this highest level of kedusha it does not have. Only Eretz Yisrael proper has it. And that is what Chazal meant by saying that, although Moshe Rabbeinu was allowed through the gate and into the courtyard and foyer, he was not allowed into the inner chamber. Once you have passed through the gate, you are no longer in the outside, public domain. You have entered the private domain, as it were, of the King. A place where His special rules and laws apply with full force and that itself has unique regulations. The kiton, however, is where the King Himself actually resides.  To be in the inner chamber is to be in the direct Presence of the King. Eiver Ha’Yardein may be the reshus of the King, but only Eretz Yisrael proper is the place of the actual Presence of the King.


What is a Man of Spirit?                  קח לך את יהושע איש אשר רוח בו   כז:יח

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as an Ish Ruach.  The Sforno explains that what this means is that “He is ready and prepared to receive the light of the Countenance of the [eternally] living King, similar to that which the pasuk says, ‘And in the heart of all those wise of heart He gave wisdom.”

This could be understood as follows.  A person is composed of two totally different entities: a body and a neshama, representing physicality and spirituality.  This is echoed in the words of the Ramah in his explanation of the bracha of asher yatzar, “Hashem does a wondrous feat in that which He guards the ruach (spirit) of man inside of him, and binds something spiritual into something physical.”

Whenever it is possible to have completion in both components of that which comprise the person, ashrecha v’tov lach, it’s wonderful.  However, whenever shleimus in both is not possible, the individual must make a choice whether to impoverish, to an extent, his spirituality for the sake of a more complete physicality, or to allow his material interests to become impoverished, to an extent, for the sake of a more complete ruchniyus.

Without a doubt, the correct choice is to allow an impoverishment of the material realm, which, after all, is only temporary, and not to impoverish one’s spirituality which is eternal.

Even when there is no choice but to allow for a certain degree of impoverishment of one’s spiritual component – for example if one needs to engage in efforts to make a living – he should nevertheless remain ever cognizant of the main objective; and, whenever possible, to immediately re-focus on the ruchniyus.

This type of choice can be relevant to a person for one minute, one hour, one day, one year, or ten years.  The definition of an Ish Ruach is one who, when confronted with this decision, will never choose to impoverish his ruchniyus for the sake of his gashmiyus; the material realm will always remain secondary for him vis a vis his spiritual needs.  Hashem told Moshe that this is a quality required for a leader of Klal Yisrael, and that Yehoshua has this quality.



“Be careful with what you expose yourself to, because whatever one hears enough times makes an impact, even if it is the most absurd notion imaginable.”



For Rav Twersky, punctiliousness in mitzvos meant not only fulfilling each mitzvah in the best way possible, but also looking ahead to ensure that no preparations for a mitzvah could be omitted. Rebbetzin Twersky shared two examples of this. Not long before he was killed al Kiddush Hashem, Rav Twersky brought home a very large amount of raw material for making the wicks for the Chanukah candles. It was a quantity far in excess of most years. It turned out that his reason for purchasing so much is that he was concerned that it may possibly become very difficult to obtain the material over the next few years because of Shemitah. Rav Twersky did not want to take any chance of that so he made sure to stock up before any issue arose.

Another example took place one week before Pesach in a year that Erev Pesach fell out on Shabbos. Rav Twersky was particular to floss on Erev Pesach, to ensure that no chametz would remain in between the teeth, and he encouraged his family to follow suit. That year, one week in advance, he told them that even if they do not normally floss, they should make sure to do so for the week leading up to Shabbos/Erev Pesach. Why? Gums that are not used to flossing will inevitably bleed when the teeth are flossed. That would make it impossible to floss on Shabbos, despite cutting the needed flossing string before Shabbos. To ensure that they would be able to floss on that Shabbos/Erev Pesach, he told them that they should accustom their gums to it in advance by flossing every day for that whole week.

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[1] This particular question could be answered by suggesting that he was missing the mitzvah of Bikurim which is, according to all opinions applicable only in Eretz Yisrael proper.



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