Friday, June 26, 2009

b'derech she'adam rotzeh lei'lech

How could the Jewish people still think that Moshe was following his own agenda after they witnessed the earth swallow Korach? R' Tzadok haKohen (Tzidkas haTzadik #64) explains:

פעמים שרואה בבירור שהשם יתברך מסייעו ומסכים עם מעשיו, עם כל זה אינו ראיה כי מעשיו ישרים באמת, ועל זה נאמר ישעיה מ"ח י"ז) מדריכך בדרך תלך ודרשו חז"ל (מכות י' ב) בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך מוליכין אותו. [ואמר בדרך דרצה לומר בספר משלי דרך התורה כמו שכתבתי לעיל (אות מ"ח), כי אין השם יתברך מסייע אלא כשהוא על פי דעתו הולך בדרך התורה. ומה שלמדו מבלעם גם לפי דעתו של בלעם כפי סיטרא דיליה היה דרך זה ישר לו כפי מה שהוא,
. . וזה היתה גם כן התלוננות בני ישראל (במדבר י"ז ו') אתם המיתם את עם ה', אף על פי שראו הפלגת הנס באבדם, מכל מקום חשבו על זה כי לא בשמים הוא ואין לסמוך על זה שהדין עם משה ואהרן נגד קרח ועדתו, רק אתם רציתם לילך בדרך זה וזכותכם גדול ולכך המיתם וגו'

Hashem will assist a person along the path he thinks is "derech haTorah" even to the point of performing miracles on his behalf -- but that is no proof that the person is correct!

This same idea is found a few parshiyos earlier. Chazal (Shabbos 87) tell us that Moshe seperated from Tziporah of his own volition, based on his understanding of his role as Navi, and Hashem affirmed his assessment and choice of action. Why then was Miraim critical of this move? Tosfos answers that Hashem may have approved because "b'derech she'adam rotzeh leilech molichin oso", Hashem assists a person achieve what he thinks Torah requires even if objectively speaking he is misguided.

Looking back at last week's parsha, Rashi writes that the choice to send spies was Moshe's decision and not commanded. Ramban disagrees -- 'shlach' is a command, notwithstanding the extra word 'lecha'. In defense of Rashi perhaps we can say that 'shlach' indeed is a command, but such a command originated in Moshe or the people's perception that such a mission was necessary.


  1. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Is this an additional chiddush to ethics of the fathers Ein Davar Haomeid Bfnei harotzon?
    Emphasis on the derech that is torah based ?
    Where are you reading "derech hatorah"

    Are you defining molichin as assisted ?

    How did Gd affirm moshes assesment and choice.

    Does affirm ing an assesment equal assisting ?

    Who decided it was wrong. Who decided it was right.

    Why did he separate from his wife.

    Are you saying that Gd assists with whatevre it is that a person wants to d o for his sake ?
    That makes no sense. Assist ?

    How does he assist.
    Providing miracles for magical moments effects too. Why would he perform miracles in this context.
    Does he actúally assist or does he just not mess with what an individual decides to do with his life.

    Lastly what about that story about the sage who was destined to be poor.when he manúfactured candles it never got dark. When he manúfactured Gravestones everyone stopped dying.

    How was Gd assisting in this case.or r you saying that the molichin , which appears to be defined as assist is only relevant on derechs that r traveled in the name of torah. Nòt livelihoods , possibly livelihood attèmpts that r made solely to be able to learn in peace.

    jaded topaz

  2. Barzilai5:02 PM

    I know that Reb Tzadok is a national treasure; I know your brother in law, and Reb Moshe Brown, and many others, have real expertise in his writings. But es chata'ai ani mazkir hayom, I don't know how you can read Reb Tzadok without banging your head on the desk. What does that mean, that Bilaam and Korach were right "kefi sitra dilei?" Is this like an "eilu ve'eilu" thing? Do we pluralist enlightened people agree that their situational moral structures were sincere and had some legitimacy, but the halacha is not like them? Reminds me of what Reb Moshe said about a cult in Russia that believed that since Moshiach won't come except in a dor shekulo zakai or kulo chayav, and kulo zakai is a pipe dream, it is best to try for kulo chayav, and they went nuts doing all kinds of aveiros. Sound good to me, though I would have to be in better shape to really enjoy it....