Bamidbar – Why Moshe Rabbeinu Was So Special

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The Book of Bamidbar begins: “And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month, in the second year after the exodus from the land of Egypt, saying” (Bamidbar 1:1). There is a very concise but telling Medrish in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Bamidbar. “Another interpretation, ‘And Hashem spoke to Moshe,’ It’s a praise for Moshe that 600,000 [Men] were standing [at Mount Sinai] and the Kohanim, and Leviim, and Elders were standing there, and from all of them He didn’t speak to besides Moshe” (Bamidbar Rabba 1:6).

The Etz Yosef explains why the Medrish points out that Moshe is praised here for it is because the pasuk writes ‘in the Desert of Sinai’ where all the Jews were standing nevertheless [Hashem] spoke only with him, and this is his praiseworthiness and his praise, that he was chosen from everyone else because of the level he was on. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Maharz”u  points out that by the 600,000 men it just states “standing,” meaning from a distance but by the Kohanim, Leviim, and Elders the medrish says “standing there,” indicating that they were standing close to Moshe and around the Mishkan, and yet Moshe was the only one spoken to by Hashem.
The Maharz”u also references the first Medrish Rabba in the beginning of the Book of Vayikra, which goes into more detail of why the fact that Hashem only spoke directly with Moshe Rabbeinu was such great praise: “Rebbe Tanchum the son of Chanilai said that it is the nature in this world that a package which is hard for one to carry, is easier for two to carry. If two can’t carry it than four probably can. Does it make sense then that a package which is hard for 600,000 is easy for one? All the Jews were standing by Har Sinai and saying, ‘if we continue to hear [the voice of the Lord, our God, anymore, we will die] (Devarim 5:22). Moshe heard the voice of speech Itself and lived. Proof that this is so, for from everyone [Hashem] only called on Moshe, that is why it says, ‘And He called unto Moshe’” (Vayikra Rabba 1:1).

The Etz Yosef explains the greatness of Moshe Rabbeinu, that the intent of the medrish is to logically deduce that the coming together of those of perfection should add to the strength of their perfection, amounting to more than what they originally had. Therefore since there were 600,000 together at Har Sinai there should have been a greater amount of perfection to prepare themselves to accept the G-Dly influence there. But because they said, “‘if we continue to hear etc.” it seems the power of all of them together wasn’t enough to be able to hear the “voice” of Hashem, yet Moshe Rabbeinu had the strength by himself, more than all of them put together. (Click Here for Hebrew text.)
Granted this was a unique feat, but why did the medrish feel it was worthwhile to emphasize and praise? If you want to praise Moshe isn’t it better to praise him for being the humblest person ever, or the most G-D fearing, as we see that he told the Jewish people at the end of his life that Hashem only asks of them to fear Him. What does only ask of them mean? Fearing Hashem isn’t so easy! But Chaza”l say that for Moshe Rabbeinu it was. Or maybe the care and love Moshe had for each individual should have been worthwhile to emphasize and praise, so what is the praise here?

However, it would seem that the Medrish is alluding to something that is mentioned in the beginning of the first chapter of Mesillas Yesharim, “The foundation of piety and the root of perfect service [of G-d] is for a man to clarify and come to realize as truth what is his obligation in his world and to what he needs to direct his gaze and his aspiration in all that he toils all the days of his life. Behold, what our sages, of blessed memory, have taught us is that man was created solely to delight in G-d and to derive pleasure in the radiance of the Shechina (Divine Presence). For this is the true delight and the greatest pleasure that can possibly exist. The place of this pleasure is, in truth, in Olam Haba (the World to Come). For it was created expressly for this purpose.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

It is true that Olam Haba is ultimately the place where one will get the full delight in G-D and derive the most complete radiance from His Shechina. However Moshe Rabbeinu got closer than anyone else in this world before he went to Olam Haba and for that reason, that he was able to fulfill the ultimate purpose and goal in existence better than anyone else, he deserved specifically that praise the medrish is emphasizing.