Rav Moshe Twersky zt”l On the Parsha

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By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

וביום שמחתכם ובמועדיכם ובראשי חדשיכם ותקעתם בחצצרות…        י:י

What is yom simchaschem?  There are two opinions in the Sifri.  The Tanna Kama says thatyom simchaschem is Shabbos.  Even though it is clear from Masechtos Shabbos and Beitzahthat only on the Shlosha Regalim is there a mitzvah of simcha, but not on Shabbos, we nevertheless see that the reality of Shabbos is that it is a day of simcha.  It could be, in fact, that it is the opposite when it comes to the Shlosha Regalim.  Are they considered a yom simcha?  Could be not, even though there is a mitzvah of simcha.  There is no of proactive mitzvah fulfillment of having joy on Shabbos.  Yet, it is called yom simchaschem.  What does this mean?  Really, it’s quite straightforward if you think about when it is that a person hassimcha.

Shabbos is an entirely different reality.  From beginning to end, from the most miniscule detail here in our world, going all the way up through the Heavenly spheres until the Kisei Ha’Kavod, everything is totally different on Shabbos.  A completely alternate reality.  Whether one is aware of it or not, on Shabbos he enters a totally different realm.  If he is not aware of it, that’s yom simchaschem, it’s the inherent quality of the day.  If he does know it, then he can partake of the simcha of the yom ha’simcha.

This alternate reality of Shabbos is reflected in the fact that eino domeh mareh panav – a person looks different on Shabbos than he does during the week.  Similarly, there is an obligation to wear Shabbos clothes.  That’s in terms of the externalities.  And as far as one’s inner world is concerned, he has a neshama yeseirah.  On Shabbos, he enters into a better, more exalted state of being; so that is simcha.  Smeichim b’tzeisam v’sasim b’voam.

The formula for how to be a tov leiv mishteh tamid, to always be in a state of happiness, is to always find newness in life.  If the sum total of one’s life is rote behavior, chances are he won’t be very happy.  However, when one rises above the mitzvas anashim melumadahand approaches every day as a new experience and new opportunity, that infuses him with tremendous simcha.

If someone were to get a feeling of freshness by winning the lottery it would be easy to be happy.  However, it wouldn’t require any effort.  When a person approaches anotherShachris, another Mincha, it is possible to just function out of habit; but if one works on cultivating a sense of freshness in it, then he will have simcha.

Shabbos is yom simchaschem because it inherently is a day of complete hischadshus – everything about Shabbos is new and exciting; so different from the humdrum workweek.

The other opinion in the SifriRabi Nosson, holds that yom simchaschem is referring to thekorban tamid that was brought twice daily.  According to Rabi Nosson, then, yom simchaschem is every day of the year!  [Perhaps this is the source for the Rambam –Ed elaboration-].  There seems to be a contradiction in the Rambam regarding the requirement to blow trumpets in the Beis Ha’Mikdash that the pasuk is talking about.  TheAchronim resolve the Rambam by positing that it must be that the Rambam holds that there are two separate, distinct obligations of blowing the trumpets in the Beis Ha’Mikdash: one obligation that applies every day of the year, and a separate obligation that applies exclusively to the Moadim.

The question is, though, what is the meaning of Rabi Nosson’s opinion?  How do thekorbanos tamid make every day into a yom simchaschem?  The Maharal says that something which has time permanence – meaning it is completely consistent in terms of its frequency and never wavers – is essentially l’maalah min ha’zman, time transcendent.  The Mesillas Yesharim says that we human beings do not possess the capacity of total alacrity that Malachim have, because we exist within the realm of physicality.  Laziness emanates from physicality, and someone who is immersed in physicality is a prone, a little bit, to the opposite of simcha.

What practical behavior can we incorporate into our lives in order to attain this quality of being time transcendent?  To be a tamid!  If one makes a set learning time for himself that is absolutely immovable, then he accomplishes this.  The whole duration of bringing thekorban tamid took but one hour, so for us even a five or ten minute learning seder can be our “tamid”.  Ten minutes that is irrevocably permanent no matter what, even on days where for whatever reason it may happen that he may not be able to learn during his normal set times, he still has his tamid.  Chok v’loh yaavor.  Doing this puts a personl’maalah min ha’zman – infusing him with a time transcendent quality. He’s literally atamid!  This generates for him a reality of yom simchaschem, and there can be no greater joy than that!

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ותדבר מרים ואהרן במשה   יב:א

Chazal tell us that Miryam and Aharon were punished over this discussion because it was lashon hara.  The question is, what exactly was the lashon hara?  The Chafetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Ha’Ra 3:7) explains that they did not judge Moshe favorably.  They misinterpreted the situation.  Hashem told them that they cannot possibly compare themselves to Moshe because he is a navi of a totally different category, and that is why he needed to be separated from his wife.  Had Miryam and Aharon known this before they spoke, the words they uttered would not have contained a trace of lashon hara.  It was only how their misconception tainted their words that turned it into lashon hara.  This is the Torah’s prototype for lashon hara, about which we are later given an asei of remembering what happened to Miryam so that we don’t stumble in lashon hara.  It is difficult to get a proper handle on how to understand the fact that this is the prototype of lashon hara in the Torah – specifically the type of lashon hara wherein the statement itself would not constitute lashon hara if not for the mistaken impression that tainted it.

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על אדות האשה הכשית אשר לקח    יב:א

Rashi – following the approach of Targum Onkelos – explains that the pasuk is referring to Tzipporah, Moshe Rabbeinu’s wife, and usage of the word Kushis to indicate that her perfect inner and exterior beauty were obvious to all just as coloring of a Kushis is obvious to all, and that is the way one talks to avoid causing an ayin hara.  Furthermore, says Rashi, the gematria of Kushis is yefas mareh – of beautiful appearance.  My grandfather told me in the name of Reb Chaim (Brisker) that this is a pasuk that has no literal meaning.  The pshat is the allegory.  This is similar to Shir Ha’Shirim which has no literal interpretation.  Generally, pesukim that speak allegorically there is a mashal – the vehicle of the message being conveyed – and the nimshal which is the message being conveyed.  For Shir Ha’Shirim, it is not that there is a basic, plain meaning to the pesukim, and the deeper meaning is the nimshal.  There is no pshat other than the nimshal.  Rav Michel Feinstein explained that that is why the Mishna says that Shir Ha’Shirim – out of all the Kesuvim – is kodesh kadashim.  The word kadosh means separate, different, distinct.  Shir Ha’Shirim is removed and separated, as it were, from the literal meaning of its words, because it is only the nimshal which is the simple, straightforward understanding of it.  Likewise, said Reb Chaim, when it comes to this pasuk of Tzipporah being referred to as a Kushis.

That being said, it should be noted that Targum Yonasan ben Uziel and the Rashbam do not understand the pasuk in this manner.  Yonasan ben Uziel leaves the word Kushis as is, indicating that there is no reason to understand differently than what the literal meaning would indicate.  Accordingly, the Rashbam says – basing himself on Divrei Ha’Yamim – that this is referring to a woman that Moshe Rabbeinu took to be his queen when he reigned as king of Kush for forty years, although he never actually lived with her.

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לא כן עבדי משה    יב:ז

Based on these pesukim, the Rambam identifies four fundamental differences between the nevuah of Moshe Rabbeinu versus that of all other neviim:  1) All other neviim receive their prophecy while in a sleep-like state, whereas Moshe was always awake and erect.  2) All other neviim received their prophecy through a malach and it therefore came in the form of symbolisms and metaphors, whereas Moshe Rabbeinu received his prophetic communications directly from Hashem and were thus crystal clear without any need to decipher allegorical meanings or the like.  3) All other neviim would become overwhelmed with a sense of terror and awe during their prophetic experiences, but Moshe Rabbeinu would remain as calm as one speaking to a friend, because his mind possessed the ability to understand the words Hashem would communicate to him while remaining in his fully conscious, collected state.  4) All other neviim were not able to experience prophecy whenever they pleased, whereas Moshe Rabbeinu never needed prior preparation; rather, he was forever focused and in a state of preparedness like Malachim and could thus experience prophecy whenever he would desire to do so.  That is what the pasuk means when Hashem told Moshe, “Go tell them, return to your homes, but you here stand with me.”  For all other neviim, when their prophetic experience is completed, return to a normal state – like everyone else – in which bodily concerns play a major role in life; and that is why they do not separate from their wives.  Moshe Rabbeinu, on the other hand, remained forever in a state of sanctification like Malachim wherein his mind was permanently bound to the Almighty; and that is why he separated from his wife and all other bodily concerns.

One of the expressions that the pasuk employs is b’chol beisi neh’ehman.  The word neh’ehman means unfaltering, absolutely consistent.  Moshe Rabbeinu was a completely faithful emissary to transmit Hashem’s Torah to Klal Yisrael.  There is a well-known question of the Minchas Chinuch: in as much as one who violates the command of a navi is liable for misah bidei Shamayim, death by Heavenly decree, why doesn’t every Torah transgression carry that penalty, since, after all, by so doing one is going against the nevuah of Moshe Rabbeinu?!  The answer to this question – which, amongst others, is said in the name of Reb Chaim (Brisker) – is that Torah is a different category than nevuah.  This can be inferred from the fact that the Rambam does not express a direct contingency of the principle of Torah min ha’Shamayim on the principles that preceded it which discuss the existence of prophecy in general and the uniqueness of Moshe Rabbeinu in particular.  Torah is not the nevuah of Moshe Rabbeinu, per se.  Torah tzivah lanu Moshe means that he was the vehicle for its transmission, the conduit through which it came to us.  Essentially, though, Torah is a transmission from Hashem to Klal Yisrael.  Was there a vehicle for that transmission, a conduit through which it came to us?  Yes, and his name is Moshe Rabbeinu.  But that is all Moshe’s role was, simply to serve as a conduit.  [All other neviim, on the other hand, have to interpret their prophecies.  Therefore, the command of the nevuah becomes their command to a certain extent.  Yes, they are transmitting the word of Hashem, but it is by their authority and say-so.  To transgress their words, then, is categorized as going against the navi. –Ed. elaboration-].  Moshe Rabbeinu, though, was a shaliach neh’ehman.  Torah was given to Klal Yisrael.  Hashem transmitted the Torah to us, and Moshe Rabbeinu was but the pipeline for that transmission – Shechinah medaberes mi’toch grono.

בכל ביתי נאמן הוא   יב:ז

Rabbeinu Yonah (in Mishlei) and the Ramban (in Iyov) proffer a very novel understanding of this pasuk.  Both Yeshayahu ha’navi and Yechezkel ha’navi expressed what they saw in their respective prophetic visions of Maaseh Merkavah.  Although Yechezkel’s description is far lengthier, Chazal tell us that he certainly did not have a greater revelation than Yeshayahu.  Rather, Yechezkel was likened to a rural peasant who once visited the royal palace, versus Yeshayahu who was akin to a sophisticated city-dweller who visited the royal palace.  For the former, it was obviously much more of a mind-blowing experience, and he therefore felt a need to describe it at length.  In contrast to Yeshayahu and Yechezkel, Moshe Rabbeinu was completely faithful to Hashem in the sense that he kept it a secret.  Moshe obviously experienced at least as much of a revelation of Maaseh Merkavah as Yeshayahu and Yechezkel did, but he did not breathe a word of it.  He was a neh’ehman ruach and shomer sod, he faithfully guarded the secret.

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Quotables

“Unnecessary is enough to justify not speaking negatively about someone, even when technically permissible.”

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Featured Story

I once travelled together with Rav Twersky from the US to Eretz Yisrael.  It was one of those times that Eretz Yisrael was ahead of Chutz La’Aretz in Krias Ha’Torah.  That Shabbos, parshas Acharei Mos-Kedoshim would be leined in Eretz Yisrael while Chutz La’Aretz would be leining Tazriah-Metzorah.  I realized that we were going to lose a parsha, but I didn’t see any way to remedy the situation, so I just made peace with it in my mind.  Not Rav Twersky, though.  He tracked down a hotel that had people from the US staying there that would beleining Tazriah-Metzorah.  First, we attended that minyan to hear the leining of Tazriah-Metzorah, and then we made our way over to the Zichron Moshe shul to hear Acharei Mos-Kedoshim.  When we were all finished, Rav Twersky turned to me with such a smile on his face and exclaimed, “We did it!”  You see, there was just nothing that could get him more thrilled and excited than fulfilling a mitzvah in the most optimal way.

(Rav Shmuel Menachem Rabinovici)

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