Monday, January 16, 2006

Chasam Sofer's "kushya atzuma" (great question)

Meforshim exlain that G-d's yediya, knoweldge, per se does not influence free will (were an astrologer able to predict what I was going to eat for breakfast tomorrow, I would still sit down in the morning and have the same range of choices before me. Whether this proof of the Ra'avad convinces you or is the best approach is a discussion for another time...) but when G-d utters a statement, that becomes the reality and there is no way out. E.g., in Parshas VaYechi, the prophetic vision had to depart from Ya'akov before he could reveal anything about the days of Moshiach because otherwise that utterance in G-d's name would remove any sense of free will.

The Chasam Sofer in Parshas Shmos asks what he calls a "kushya atzuma" (a great question): Moshe tries to declince to serve as G-d's messenger and says he cannot speak properly; G-d replies that He knows Ahron, Moshe's brother, will serve as spokesperson for Moshe and is in fact on the way to greet him in the desert. Did Ahron have free choice to accept of reject acting as Moshe's spokesperson on this mission? Asks the Chasam Sofer, if G-d told Moshe that Ahron would serve in that task, would that not by definition not leave Ahron the choice of not accepting the appointment?

The Chasam Sofer has an approach, but I would rather leave this one to think over than write the answer right away.


  1. How is this any different than HKBH's havtacha to Avraham that the BY will ne strangers in a foreign land for 400 years.
    In other words, the havtacha to Avraham had the potential to be interpreted in different ways. In fact the end result was that the 400 years started from Yitzchak-which is not necessarily the pashtus of teh havtacha.
    So too when HKBH told Moshe that Aharon would be his speaker, it could have meant different things. Aharon made a certain decision which then became the meaning of the statement.

  2. What else could "Ahron will speak for you" mean?

  3. Anonymous12:15 AM

    1) Can't one simply say that Hashem, "anticipating" Moshe's reluctance, asked Aaron at some point, if he would be available to lend a hand (or mouth as the case may be) if needed?
    2) Slightly off on a tangent. How much free choice did Moshe have here? He tried to refuse this job for a number of days. At the end Hashem "got angry" and commanded him to go. At this point could Moshe have really sat down and refused to go?

  4. Sorry i dont really see tge kasha, although a kasha atzuma from the ch's is a real k'a, so must be i dont really chap the kasha.
    But hashem commanded aharon, so hashem knew once he commanded him he would ofcourse do it.