Thursday, July 09, 2015

the greatest navi and greatest manhig also has to be a great parent

The Kli Yakar makes an interesting diyuk: in our parsha Moshe is told to go up to “Har Ha’Avarim” and take a look at Eretz Yisrael before dying. In Parshas VaEschanan the same mountain is called “Har ha’Avarim Har Nevo” and in Parshas Zos haBracha the mountain is only named as “Har Nevo.” Why does our parsha refer to it only by the name Har ha’Avarim?

He answers that the name “Ha’Avarim” is deliberately used because it sounds like the word “evrah” = anger. Shortly after being given the opportunity to see Eretz Yisrael, Moshe asked Hashem to appoint a leader. The halachos of yerusha that had just been revealed through the episode of Bnos Tzelafchad must have still been ringing in Moshe’s ears and he must have had a hava amina that his own children might take over his role. The truth, however, was that Moshe’s children were not worthy to take his place. There were many hats that Moshe wore in his lifetime, all with greatness – navi, rebbe, melech. There was only one hat that Moshe wore with less than stellar results – the hat of father. Moshe did not leave behind children who reflected his own greatness or who followed in his footsteps. There was an undercurrent of anger in Hashem’s words for this one failing.   Apparently you can be the greatest navi and the greatest leader in the whole history of Klal Yisrael, but Hashem will still take you to task if you fail to bring up your children in your footsteps.  Is Moshe really to blame for his children not turning out like him?  I wouldn't say it, but the Kli Yakar does.  On some level beyond what we would detect, Hashem found a lacking.  We have to take it to take to heart on our own level.  Whether you are the CEO of a company, the Rav of a shul, or anything else -- and we are all so very busy these days, no matter what the profession -- you also have to make time to raise your kids to be bnei Torah and bnos Torah.  Of course, there is no guarantee of success no matter how much you put into it, but one must try as hard as one can and keep trying again and again. 

A second point: in a span of six pesukim we have quite a number of appellations used to describe Klal Yisrael:

1) Moshe asks Hashem to appoint “ish al ha’eidah.” (27:16)

2) He asks for Hashem to not leave “adas Hashem” like a flock with no shepherd. (27:17)

3) Hashem tells Moshe to present Yehoshua in front of Eliezer and the “eidah.” (27:19)

4) Hashem tells Moshe to give Yehoshua some of his “glory so that “kol adas Bnei Yisrael” obey him.

5) Yehoshua is supposed to lead, “hu v’kol Bnei Yisrael v’kol ha’eidah.” (27:21)

6) Moshe obeys Hashem’s command and presents Yehoshua before Elazar and “kol ha’eidah.” (27:22)

I count five different terms: 1) ha’eidah; 2) adas Hashem; 3) kol adas Bnei Yisrael; 4) kol Bnei Yisrael + kol ha’eidah; 5) kol ha’eidah alone. Why so many different words for the same thing?

Rashi comments on pasuk 21, where we have the combination of both terms “Bnei Yisrael” and “kol ha’eidah,” that “kol eidah” is the Sanhedrin, the leaders; I assume “kol Bnei Yisrael” is everyone else. Does that mean that when Moshe initially voiced his request and asked for a leader “al ha’eidah,” he meant someone who oversees the Sanhedrin, not necessarily someone who would answer to the people as a whole? Was it like the hava amina raised in the constitutional convention of 1789 that the President should be elected by Congress or the Senate and not by popular vote? Or does the word “ha’eidah” there refer to the people as a whole and only here, in pasuk 21, does it take on a more technical meaning because it is used in conjunction with “kol Bnei Yisrael?” I don’t have any answers at this point – I’m just throwing out the question.

A final thought on these two sections -- the Ba’al haTurim takes note of an interesting anomaly: the word “v’ra’isah,” to look at the land, is written with an (extra) letter hey at the end. This is the only place in the Torah where this spelling is found. The Bh”T explains al pi derash that Moshe’s vision here was enhanced and he was able to see into the caves and crevices where the nations had all their treasure buried. HaKsav v’HaKabbalah gives us some grammar to chew on. We may not have a similar spelling of “ra’isah,” but we do have other words that have an extra “hey” tacked on at the end. For example, in Parshas VaYeira, when Lot offers to turn over his own daughters to the people of Sdom, he says “otzi’ah na eschen aleichem.” (19:8) The word “otzi’ah” is also spelled with a “hey” at the end. Why not just say “otzi,” like the pasuk “otzei es Bnei Yisrael mei’Eretz Mitzrayim?” Why use the longer word with the extra letter?

HaKsav v’HaKabbalah writes that there are two forms of the future tense: 1) words like otzi, ra’isa, etc. which indicate a definitive future action that will take place; 2) ra’isah, otzi’ah, where the extra “hey” indicates not just what will take place, but the desire/request for that something to happen. Lot was not just telling the people of Sdom what he would do next; he was asking them to consent to his desire and accept his gesture. Moshe Rabeinu in our parsha was nearing the close of his life. That look across into Eretz Yisrael would bring him one giant step closer to the end. It’s human nature to want to avoid death; therefore, Hashem asked Moshe not only to look, but “v’ra’isah,” with an extra “hey” – to welcome the opportunity and want to look, even knowing that it meant the end was near. 

The Ksav v'HaKabbalah gives many more examples, some of which appear right here in the next parsha section.  When the Torah speaks of the appointment of Yehoshua, Moshe is told, “v’tzivisah,” with an extra “hey,” to charge Yehoshua with his duty, “v’nasatah,” with an extra “hey,” to give over some of his glory/hod to Yehoshua. It is difficult to turn over the reigns, even if one’s own beloved student is the one taking over. Moshe is told to do so willingly, to desire and consent to stepping down. It is not just something that  should happen because Hashem commands it, but it's something that Moshe should want to happen as well.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that Reb Aharon Lichtenstein ztz"l was asked once what he felt was his greatest accomplishment: he answered, "My family."