Friday, June 13, 2008

Moshe Rabeinu or Moshe the Navi

There is an interesting letter relating to the dual role of Moshe Rabeinu/ Moshe the Navi from the Chasam Sofer to the Mahartz Chiyus which the Mh”C responds to at the end of the section of his sefer called Toras Nevi’im. The Chasam Sofer claims that the rule of “lo bashamayim hi” did not apply to Moshe Rabeinu. The proof he offers comes from the case of the megadeif. The Midrash portrays the megadeif as coming to court to press his claim for a stake in the camp of Klal Yisrael and being rebuffed by Moshe because his father was not Jewish -- the megadeif was conceived during an act of z’nus between his mother and an Egyptian. Yet how did Moshe know this without DNA testing? The halacha regarding determining paternity is clear: rov b’eilos achar haba’al. The assumption is that if a woman is married and conceives, the child’s father is the women’s husband, even if she is known to be promiscuous or known to have committed adultery. The Chasam Sofer writes that Moshe must have ruled on the basis of prophetic insight, nevu’ah. Even though the world of halacha and nevu’ah are normally separate – it is reason and logic, not prophecy, which governs decisions in the Beis Medrash – these worlds overlapped and intersected for Moshe, who was entitled to rule on the basis of prophetic insight. Coming back to the Minchas Chinuch’s point, ultimately all of Moshe’s Torah knowledge sprang from his prophetic experience at Sinai, a unique encounter which no other Navi shared or can ever share in the future.


  1. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Althoug when it comes to Paskin a Shaalo we can't use Ruach H'Kodesh, I think the Misneh L'Melech and others discuss figuring out a Halachic Metzius based on Ruach H'Kodosh.Although I'm unsure of their outcome, if one can, it could explain how Moshe knew.

  2. The Maharatz Chiyus disagrees with the Chasam Sofer and suggests the same chiluk you offer. If it is a question of facts, then ruach hakodesh is no worse than a DNA test. If it is a question of law, then lo bashamayim hi.
    Still, I thought the C.S. is interesting.

  3. You know that at the time Moshe killed the Mitzri who fathered this child, it says that he saw no man about. Rashi cites a Midrash referring to his seeing that there would be no worthy descendants of this Mitzri. So the vision would likely have included this child who was just conceived to have been identified as the Mitzri's child.

  4. Nonetheless, if lo bashamayim hi applied, Moshe should have ignored that knowledge just like the Chachamim ignored the miracles that R' Eliezer called up to prove his was right in the episode of tanur shel achna'iy.

    However, now that you mention it, there is a comment of the Brisker Rav on that very episode of Moshe killing the Mitzri which connects the fact that Moshe prophetically looked at the future descendents with the fact that Moshe killed the Mitzri using the shem hameforash. Misas B"D does not require considering future consequences based on who a person's descendents will be, but using the shem hameforash (nevuah) does.

  5. Anonymous4:22 PM

    I just hears a Great Kasha I have to share.(from a story with Minchas Chinuch did I see it here at some point?) If on succos you sit in a stolen Sukkah are you considered eating Chutz Lisukkah?You are doing the Tzurah so are you Mevatel a mitzvah?

  6. In addition to the M.C. see the Esvan D'Oryasa of R' Yosef Engel who discusses this (in the siman on bracha for zman gerama I think). IIRC it is also discussed by R' Shimon in Sha'arei Yosher who sides with R" Yosef Engel against the M.C. (I found that interesting because in YU I heard this Minchas Chinuch a few times - seems to be a Brisker-ish idea. Perhaps it is a Brisker non-Brisker thing.)

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