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.

Behar/Bechukosai – The End Does Not Justify the Means


The Chofetz Chaim in his Sefer Shmiras Halashon goes parsha by parsha enumerating the many episodes of unfortunate lashon hara and the prohibitions that are listed in the Torah on this subject. In the first portion of this week’s double portion of Behar and Bechukosai, the conclusion of the Book of Vayikra, the Torah states, “And you shall not wrong, one man his fellow Jew, and you shall fear your G-D, for I am the Lord, your G-D” (Vayikra 25:17). The Chofetz Chaim explains that “here the Torah warns us about onaas devarim, wronging verbally, meaning a person should not provoke his fellow Jew with words, and it says in the gemara, Bava Metzia 58b, that wronging verbally is worse than wronging monetarily, for one is done with his body and the other is done with his money, one can be returned and the other cannot be returned. It says there, Bava Metzia 59a, that all the gates in Heaven are closed except for the gate of the wronged, in order to pay back the wrongdoer. Onaas devarim is also considered a subcategory of lashon hara as we find in Yoma 44a” (Shmiras Halashon, volume 2, chapter 17). (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Rashi
comments on this pasuk, ולא תונו איש את עמיתו YOU SHALL NOT THEREFORE BE EXTORTIONATE TO ONE ANOTHER — Here Scripture warns against vexing by words (wounding a person’s feelings) — that one should not annoy his fellowman, nor give him an advice which is unfitted for him but is in accordance with the plan and the advantage of the adviser. But lest you should say, “Who knows whether I had any intention to do him evil?” Scripture therefore states: “but you shalt fear your G-D”! — He Who knows men’s thoughts, He knows it! In all cases where it is a matter of conscience (more lit., a matter handed over to the heart), when no one knows the truth except the one who has the thought in his heart, Scripture always states: “but be afraid of your G-D”! (Sifra, Behar, Chapter 4 1-2; Bava Metzia 58b; cf. also Rashi on Leviticus 19:14.)

The Sifra, or Toras Kohanim that Rashi is quoting, lists a number of examples of this prohibition:

  1. If a person is a baal-teshuva, penitent, don’t tell him, ‘Do you remember what you used to do…’
  2. If he is a son of a convert, don’t say, ‘I remember how your family used to act…’
  3. If a person is sick, suffering, or buried his children, don’t tell him what Iyov’s friends told him, ‘Isn’t your fear your foolishness, your hope and innocent ways, please remember who is cleanly lost and where did the straight people be annihilated.’
  4. If you see donkey drivers asking for grain or for wine don’t tell them to go to a certain person who never sold grain or wine in his life.
  5. Rebbe Yehuda says that one should not check into an item and ask for a price without any intent on buying it.

Rabbeinu Bachye shares a reason for the gemara in Bava Metzia 59a which says, ”Rav Ḥisda says: All the gates of Heaven are apt to be locked, except for the gates of prayer for victims of verbal mistreatment, as it is stated: ‘And behold, the Lord stood upon a wall built with a plumb line, and a plumb line in His hand’ (Amos 7:7).” The Reason is because the one who is verbally wronged is very much pained, and his mind is weakened, and his heart is humbled over his suffering, and he prays from out of his worrisome heart with intent and is heard. If the [speaker] would say ‘Who knows if I had bad intention’ therefore the pasuk concludes, “and you shall fear your G-D.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
People sin for various reason but don’t deny afterward that no one knows what happened; so what’s the big deal? First of all, why would a person think that remorse for a sin is dependent on who saw it? Secondly, would a person who sins normally deny his folly towards Hashem once he realizes his mistake if he is a G-D fearing Jew? So why is this case any different? Does this person who speaks verbal abuse have to be a denier of Hashem to the point that the Torah has to say, “and you shall fear your G-D?” This expression is not found in too many places. It doesn’t say anywhere that when a person does a sin in private, he should fear Hashem! What is the emphasis here?!

However it would seem based on this Rabbeinu Bachye that this person actually might think he has an excuse to say to himself ‘Who knows if I had bad intention’ because look at the results that he produced by totally insulting and humiliating his fellow Jew. The victim was able to reach such great heights in prayer that he has the ability to be answered whereas others are not so readily answered. The perpetrator caused the victim to reach such great heights of intent in prayer that he might be delusional to think that in fact he did a mitzvah by helping another to come so close to Hashem, to the point that he might tell himself, “who knows if I had bad intentions”. That is why the pasuk concludes, “and you shall fear your G-d,” so one should not come to think that the end justifies the means.

Emor – Just One Shabbos


The Torah, in this week’s portion of Emor, requires a newborn animal set aside to be an offering to be 8 days old before it is allowed to be sacrificed, as it says: “When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall remain under its mother for seven days, and from the eighth day onwards, it shall be accepted as a sacrifice for a fire offering to the Lord” (Vayikra 22:27).


The Medrish Rabba brings a parable as to why one must wait 7 days before bringing a newborn animal as a sacrifice which, it says, is also the reason why the bris milah is on the 8th day. “‘It shall remain under its mother for seven days.’ Rebbe Yehoshua of Sechnin said in the name of Rebbe Levi, a parable to a king who entered one of his provinces and decreed and said, ‘Which ever citizen here who would like to see my face must first see the face of the matron.’ So to, Hashem said, ‘You shall not bring before me an offering until Shabbos has passed, for there isn’t 7 days without Shabbos, and there isn’t a bris milah without a Shabbos, therefore the pasuk continues,‘and from the eighth day onwards’” (Vayikra Rabba 27:10).

The Yefeh Toar observes that the reason why Shabbos is compared to a matron is because Shabbos is referred to as the Shabbos Queen. The lesson learned from this comparison is that Shabbos is a testimony to the fact that G-D created the world, something from nothing, and that Hashem watches over and is involved in His lower species. This belief must come before everything. Therefore, those that bring an offering to burn before The Great Hashem without belief in the nuance of the world and Hashem’s constant involvement has an untruthful belief. For this reason, one Shabbos should pass before the mitzvah of bringing an offering and the mitzvah of bris milah. (Click here for Hebrew text.)


What kind of a person is this medrish referring to? If it is someone who does not have any belief at all then why is he bringing a sacrifice or giving his son a bris? Even if he is just doing what his family does because that is the Jewish thing to do, then what does one Shabbos do for him? He has no clue how or why to keep Shabbos properly, so one Shabbos passing won’t make him a believer? Yet, if this is referring to someone who is already a believer in Hashem and he is bringing a peace offering, burnt offering, or even a sin offering for accidentally sinning, then he is already a believer and he even has observed many Shabbosim until now; so what does this add? It can’t be for the sake of the animal or baby’s belief who were just born because they don’t have the intellectual capacity to think in these terms?!

It must be referring to a believer who until now, if you would ask him, of course he would say that Hashem created the world from nothing and has, is, and always will be consistently involved in its existence and in minor and minute details that exist in what He created. However, the experience of observing a Shabbos reinforces this belief before such a momentous event as a father connecting his son to the Jewish covenant with Hashem or a person bringing an offering on the altar of Hashem to more closely connect or reconnect with Him for whatever reason he or she is bringing the offering. This could be one of the reasons why we have a shalom zachor the first Shabbos after a baby boy is born, to acknowledge and reinforce this belief in Hashem, (see Sefer Taamei HaMinhagim: Inyanei Milah).

 Without the experience or observance of the first Shabbos when the baby boy or animal is born then whatever belief, as strong as it was, won’t be the same and in fact it’s as if the previous belief is nothing.  

There are infinite levels of belief in Hashem and all the facets of His involvement in this world. These beliefs must be constantly reinforced but there are specific auspicious times like when bringing an offering or bris milah where one is creating a special connection with Hashem so at these times Hashem requires one to experience a Shabbos in order to create a deeper impression of belief in preparation to connect with Hashem.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Dovid Shmuel Milder

Vayikra 22:27).

The Medrish Rabba brings a parable as to why one must wait 7 days before bringing a newborn animal as a sacrifice which, it says, is also the reason why the bris milah is on the 8th day. “‘It shall remain under its mother for seven days.’ Rebbe Yehoshua of Sechnin said in the name of Rebbe Levi, a parable to a king who entered one of his provinces and decreed and said, ‘Which ever citizen here who would like to see my face must first see the face of the matron.’ So to, Hashem said, ‘You shall not bring before me an offering until Shabbos has passed, for there isn’t 7 days without Shabbos, and there isn’t a bris milah without a Shabbos, therefore the pasuk continues,‘and from the eighth day onwards’” (Vayikra Rabba 27:10).

The Yefeh Toar observes that the reason why Shabbos is compared to a matron is because Shabbos is referred to as the Shabbos Queen. The lesson learned from this comparison is that Shabbos is a testimony to the fact that G-D created the world, something from nothing, and that Hashem watches over and is involved in His lower species. This belief must come before everything. Therefore, those that bring an offering to burn before The Great Hashem without belief in the nuance of the world and Hashem’s constant involvement has an untruthful belief. For this reason, one Shabbos should pass before the mitzvah of bringing an offering and the mitzvah of bris milah. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
What kind of a person is this medrish referring to? If it is someone who does not have any belief at all then why is he bringing a sacrifice or giving his son a bris? Even if he is just doing what his family does, because that is the Jewish thing to do, then what does one Shabbos do for him? He has no clue how or why to keep Shabbos properly, so one Shabbos passing won’t make him a believer? Yet, if this is referring to someone who is already a believer in Hashem and he is bringing a peace offering, burnt offering, or even a sin offering for accidentally sinning, then he is already a believer and he even has observed many Shabbosim until now; so what does this add? It can’t be for the sake of the animal or baby’s belief who were just born because they don’t have the intellectual capacity to think in these terms?!

It must be referring to a believer who until now, if you would ask him, of course he would say that Hashem created the world from nothing and has, is, and always will be consistently involved in it’s existence and in minor and minute details that exist in what He created. However, the experience of observing a Shabbos reinforces this belief before such a momentous event as a father connecting his son to the Jewish covenant with Hashem or a person bringing an offering  on the alter of Hashem to more closely connect or reconnect with Him for whatever reason he or she  is bringing the offering. This could be one of the reasons why we have a shalom zachor the first Shabbos after a baby boy is born, to acknowledge and reinforce this belief in Hashem, (see Sefer Taamei HaMinhagim: Inyanei Milah).

 Without the experience or observance of the first Shabbos when the baby boy or animal is born then whatever belief, as strong as it was, won’t be the same and in fact it’s as if the previous belief is nothing.  

There are infinite levels of belief in Hashem and all the facets of His involvement in this world. These beliefs must be constantly reinforced but there are specific auspicious times like when bringing an offering or bris milah where one is creating a special connection with Hashem so at these times Hashem requires one to experience a Shabbos in order to create a deeper impression of belief in preparation to connect with Hashem.

Acharei Mos Kedoshim-Evolution of Atheism


We find a cause for the development of The Haskala, The Enlightenment, along with the Atheist movement, in the second portion of this week’s double parshios of Acharei Mos and Kedoshim. The Torah states, “You shall observe My statutes: You shall not crossbreed your livestock with different species. You shall not sow your field with a mixture of seeds, and a garment which has a mixture of shaatnez shall not come upon you” (Vayikra 19:19).

This pasuk discusses the prohibition of kilayim, forbidden mixtures. Rabbeinu Bachye shares a reason for these prohibitions: “According to the simple understanding the reason for the prohibition of forbidden mixtures is because all the things created in this world whether animal or vegetation has a power source or mazal (fortune) connected on high, and each thing was created in its own species, for this, The Mighty King made a foundation for them in the beginning of creation, so that each one would have their own unique species. So, someone who mixes, or grafts two species together changes and weakens the acts of creation which the Torah writes about them, ‘according to their species’ (Breishis 1:12, 21, 25), and he does the opposite of Hashem who wants to differentiate between each species. It is as if this person makes himself appear that he thinks what The Holy One Blessed Be He has created in this world isn’t enough and he wants to outsmart and add more species, new ones, within what the Eternal One has created. The prohibition of plowing an ox and donkey is for the same reason because it is the custom of farmers after plowing to bring the yoke [with the two animals] into one barn and it would lead into crossbreeding and giving birth to strange breeds resulting in the weakening of creation.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Tangelos, a mix of a tangerine and grapefruit, might lead to a juicier fruit, and the mule, which is the crossbreed of a horse and a donkey, results in a stronger animal. Yet while a mule, might have advantages, they are not able to reproduce on their own, and tangelos are a juicier fruit, yet they are self-sterile, hence they really are weakening the essence of creation; and by dabbling in this field one might create more harm than good. However, scientists who experiment in these sorts of things are trying to improve the world and make things more productive and better; so knowing what they are doing they obviously think the positive advantages outweigh the negative. If so, then what’s really the problem?
Furthermore, later in the perek, in pasuk 27 the Torah writes, “You shall not round off the corner of your head, and you shall not destroy the edge of your beard.” Rabbeinu Bachye explains that the reason behind destroying a beard from its roots is prohibited is along the same lines as forbidden mixtures. “According to the simple reasoning the reason for the prohibition is in order not to quash the sign that The Holy One Blessed Be He imprinted in the male gender in order to differentiate him from a female. One who does this (i.e., destroys the beard at its roots) is doing the opposite of Hashem, like one who plants forbidden mixtures, and everything that was made in creation, is written by it ‘according to their species.’” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
What could be wrong with a man destroying his beard? What is wrong with social justice and equality, or gender equality?

We see from here that Hashem had a reason for creating differences in the world and unique species which cannot be combined or blurred. But the real issue is the attitude that one can outsmart Hashem. ‘I can think of an idea, scientifically and morally, that Hashem didn’t come up with, and it will be bigger and better than how things were originally designed. And who cares about the side effects or drawbacks; those are minor and relatively non-existent or important.’

What people don’t realize is that there is nothing new under the sun. Hashem created the ability and potential for all these new species to be created and advancements to occur. He gave us the free will to choose to use our knowledge for the betterment or the destruction of the world, and the moral fabric of society at large. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 56b even says that non-Jews also have the prohibition of forbidden mixtures in the Noahide laws. It is within our power and decision making to use the tools and brains that Hashem bestowed in us to realize the gifts Hashem provides and to use them appropriately.

However, as we have seen with the advent of the industrial revolution and the advancement of technology, it is very easy to think we can “play god” or invent things which were thought to be impossible. Getting caught up in human advancement and not realizing the source for the gift of these abilities which would lead one to believe there is a moral fabric of how to use all the ingredients around them in this world, is what leads one to conclude he is an atheist. He thinks he just outsmarted G-D so G-D must not exist.

For this reason, Hashem created the laws of forbidden mixtures and the prohibition of uprooting the hair follicles of a beard. There are Higher moral standards so don’t mix them up!

Tazria and Metzora – Combat Weapons Against Sin

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The spiritual ailment of tzaraas is the main focus of the double portion of Tazria and Metzora. This punishment is normally associated with the sin of lashon hara, slander. The Medrish Rabba in parshas Metzora shares a deterrent from speaking lashon hara, when it says that there are 5 times the word “Torah” was written in connection with tzaraas to teach us that anyone who speaks lashon hara transgresses the five books of the Torah and therefore Moshe warned the Jews, “This will be the Torah (law) of the metzora.” The Maharz”u quoting the Ba”al Akeida points out that in each of the Five books of the Torah, there are discussed episodes of lashon hara, or the transgression itself of lashon hara. We see from this how impactful the sin of lashon hara is through out the Torah, and the grave ramifications of transgressing such a sin, which is equivalent to transgressing the entire Torah; and who would wish to do such a thing G-D forbid (Vayikra Rabba 16:6).

However, lashon hara is not the only sin which is punished with tzaraas. The Medrish Rabba lists and proves that there are in fact 10 sins punished with tzaraas: (1) Idolatry, (2) incest (3) murder, (4) chilul Hashem, (5) cursing Hashem, (6) stealing from the public, (7) stealing honor from someone which is not yours, (8) haughtiness, (9) lashon hara, and (10) ayin hara, the evil eye, meaning not sharing anything with others (Vayikra Rabba 17:3).
The Medrish Tanchuma in parshas Tazria makes a very interesting observation which results in another two deterrents of sin which not only apply to lashon hara specifically or this list of ten sins in general, but really for any sin. “Another interpretation of ‘A person who has on the skin of his flesh’. Why didn’t it say, ‘Speak to the children of Israel” as it writes by all the other portions, instead it wrote ‘a person’? This refers to what the pasuk says, ‘For You are not a God Who desires wickedness; evil does not abide with You.’ (Tehillim 5:5). Because the pasuk states, [I] say, ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My desire I will do.’ (Yeshayahu 46:10). Whoever hears this pasuk might say, maybe there is a distortion of justice in Heaven. Rebbe Tanchuma said, what does ‘and all My desire I will do’ mean? He does not desire to castigate any creature, as it says ‘For I do not desire the death of him who dies’ (Yechezkel 18:32). This means, You are not a G-D who desires wickedness. (The Etz Yosef explains that since Hashem does not desire wickedness therefore, He did not mention “B’nei Yisrael,” rather “a person” because He did not want to associate them with bad.) What does ‘evil does not abide with You’ mean? Rebbe Yochanan said that King David said to Hashem, ‘Master Of The World if you seek to exonerate your creatures who is stopping You, as it says ‘Inasmuch as the King’s word is the rule, and who will say to Him, “What are You doing?”’ (Koheles 8:4)? Who is greater than You? It is the custom in the world that a governor who sits in judgement and wants to sentence innocence or guilt, he is afraid of those higher than him, that they won’t say anything bad about him, if the litigant doesn’t like the sentence he will go to the local senator who is of higher stature and if he doesn’t like that he will go to the prime minister and from there all the way up to the king, each one has a higher status then the next. The king fears no one, and You, The Master Of The World, if You want to exonerate your creatures who do You fear, ‘evil does not abide with You,’ meaning You don’t fear evil, as it says ‘For I was frightened of the wrath and the fury’ (Devarim 9:19)” (Medrish Tanchuma parshas Tazria, paragraph 7).
Hashem didn’t want to associate the state of tzaraas with the Jewish people because it’s a bad thing and He did not want His children to have any connection to it; therefore the Torah writes “a person who has on the skin of his flesh a blemish etc.” Surely Hashem is not playing a game, and making believe Jews cannot get tzaraas, if they do something wrong surely, they deserve to be punished. The Medrish itself in fact says, Hashem would not distort justice! Also, what was King David saying that Hashem has no fear to exonerate everyone? Again, wouldn’t Hashem the All-Powerful and truthful only do what is right? What then is the message of this medrish?

We must say that of course Hashem would never distort justice, but He is distraught when man sins and would rather see him immediately repent or actually avoid sinning to begin with. We see from here how much Hashem feels bad over the punishment of His creatures especially His close children, the Jewish people. To the point that Hashem did not even want to reference Bnei Yisrael with receiving tzaraas.

Realizing and imbibing into ourselves the “pain” Hashem feels when being forced to punish His children when we make mistakes should be an impetus to avoid doing wrong, coupled with the belief that Hashem has the ability to do whatever He wants and is always doing what is right and best. This, if on our minds constantly should deter us from sinning.

Shemini – Hard Work and a Thorough Analysis


In this week’s Torah portion of Shemini we find the episode of Nadav and Avihu. By the dedication of the Mishkan they erred while bringing the incense, and Hashem killed them on the spot. “And Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before Hashem foreign fire, which He had not commanded them. And fire went forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem” (Vayikra 10:1,2).

According to the Sforno their mistake was as follows: “They were under the impression that just as the incense came after the daily offering whereby the Shechina manifested itself, as it says, ‘It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Ohel Moed before Hashem, where I will meet with you’ (Shemos 29:42), so it would be proper to burn additional incense now that the Divine Glory had been revealed to all the people and the fire had descended, therefore they offered it before Hashem on the inner alter, of which the Torah said, ‘You shall offer no strange incense on it’ (Shemos 30:9). Now even if it was the proper thing to do had they but been commanded to do so, nevertheless they sinned by doing it now, since He had not commanded them, as Chazal said, ‘They decided the halacha in the presence of Moshe their teacher’ (Eruvin 63a).”
The Sforno is of the understanding that Nadav and Avihu’s sin was that they decided a halacha on their own, when they could have asked their teacher, Moshe Rabbeinu, what to do. Even though their thought process made a lot of sense, and it therefore seemed obvious to them that this should be their next move, they still should have consulted with their rebbe who, was not too far away, to be sure they did not overlook something. The next pasuk says that Aharon was silent, and the Sforno observes that he was “comforting himself in the thought that Hashem was sanctified through their death.”

However, at the end of the perek we find that, at first glance, it would seem Aharon himself overlooked something. “And Moshe thoroughly investigated concerning the sin offering he-goat, (The Sforno says, ‘that goat was for an everlasting statute, namely, the goat for Rosh Chodesh, a holy sacrifice for future generation.) and behold, it had been burnt! So, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, saying, ‘Why did you not eat the sin offering in the holy place? For it is holy of holies, and He has given it to you to gain forgiveness for the sin of the community, (The Sforno points out, ‘although it was given to you, you had no permission to burn it because it was given to you to eat in order to bear the iniquities of the congregation,) to effect their atonement before the Hashem! Behold, its blood was not brought into the Sanctuary within, so you should have surely eaten it within holy [precincts], as I commanded!’ And Aaron spoke to Moshe, ‘But today, did they offer up their sin offering and their burnt offering before Hashem? But [if tragic events] like these had befallen me, and if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have pleased Hashem?’ (The Sforno explains, ‘His reasoning was: if the situation were such that they were sacrificing their obligatory sin offering and their freewill burnt offering, even though these sacrifices are not permanent communal holy offerings, and we were to have eaten the sin offering today while in a state of aninus, mourning, would it have been pleasing in the sight of Hashem that in a state of aninus we should also eat a sacrifice which is obligatory upon all generations? It is well known that if a kohen who is an onen eats an offering with knowledge and intent, it cannot atone, as it says regarding kodshim kalim, the lesser holy, ‘I have not eaten thereof in my mourning’ (Devarim 26:14). Although you commanded us to eat the meal offering which is of transitory sanctity, even in a state of mourning, it does not follow that this ruling also applies in the case of permanent sacrifices.) Moshe heard [this], and it pleased him.” (Which the Sforno says means, ‘He rejoiced in the good reasoning of his brother and his sons who understood and taught, [decided the law,] so well) (Vayikra 10:16-20). (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Aharon and his sons were supposed to have eaten their portion of the Rosh Chodesh goat-offering along with the portions of other sacrifices they had brought on the day Nadav and Avihu died, and they were in mourning. Yet they chose to burn the meat of the Rosh Chodesh offering as a mourner would normally do, because they figured that only the special offerings brought specifically for the dedication of the Mishkan were allowed to be eaten in a state of mourning, while the regular offerings that would be continued for generations were not allowed to be eaten in a state of mourning, as halacha normally would dictate.

If Aharon and his sons had just seen the sudden death by Heaven of their sons and brothers for not first consulting with Moshe Rabbeinu, and the Torah even attests that Aharon understood and accepted what happened, why then did they not first consult with Moshe Rabbeinu before wasting and burning the holy meat they were supposed to eat? What is even more perplexing is that Moshe Rabbeinu was happy over Aharon’s response as to why he did what he did; were they not in the same position as Nadav and Avihu? What changed?
If we analyze each situation carefully according to the Sforno we will find that the difference between Nadav and Avihua and Aharon and the rest of his sons was the approach they took to the situation. Nadav and Avihu thought that they had a good idea which made sense, and they had only positive intent. But they did not think it through, to the very last possibility, and therefore they were faulted for acting too quickly when they should have first asked the rabbi if what they were doing was correct. Aharon and the rest of his sons, on the other hand, went through every step of the situation and completely analyzed the issue until they knew that they were making the correct choice, and were able to defend their actions accordingly.

We learn from here no matter how much we think we make sense of something, especially in halacha, we should first consult with higher authorities before acting on impulse, unless we have thoroughly analyzed the matter and know for sure that what we are doing is without a doubt correct. Yet we should be very wary of relying on our own understanding of a situation unless we are absolutely confident and know we aren’t fooling ourselves, which is not so easy to figure out. So better to err on the side of caution.

Tzav – For the Honor of the Children

This Dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of my Rosh HaYeshiva, Moreinu viRabbeinu HaRav Alter Chanoch Henoch ben Chaim Dovid Leibowitz ztzk”l, Rosh Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, upon his yahretzeit which was Yud Nissan.

Only because of Moshe Rabbeinu’s prayer was Hashem willing to send a message to Aharon in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Tzav. If not for this prayer, Hashem would not want anything to do with Aharon Kohen Gadol after his involvement with the sin of the Golden Calf.
In fact, the Rosh summarizing a Medrish Rabba (Vayikra 7:1) in the beginning of this week’s parsha of Tzav which asks, “’Why wasn’t the name of Aharon mentioned in the Torah portion of Vayikra? It was because he was reprimanded for the action of the golden calf, only his sons [were mentioned, ‘Bnei Aharon’ or ‘hakohen.’ And the two times (2:3&10) in last week’s parsha that it says Aharon and his sons was only because the Torah had to differentiate between the kohen gadol and the other kohanim so Hashem felt it was not worth using extra ink just to punish Aharon.] Moshe said before Hashem, ‘Master Of The World is a pit ever hated and it’s water pleasant? Didn’t you have mercy on the olive and warned not to cut olive wood for the sake of the oil which is needed for light and meal offerings? So to, the children of Aharon are beloved before you and you don’t have mercy on the honor of their father?’ Only then did The Master acquiesce to the student and said, ‘Command Aharon’ (Vayikra 6:2).’ One can ask, what does hatred towards the father have to do with loving the sons? This can be answered with a parable to a king who had servants and two lads were guardsmen who were handsome and very strong who always walked with him. Their father was a villager. The king said it is better to make the father a knight in order to call the children sons of knights, even though the father was appalling in the king’s eyes. So too, the children of Aharon were beloved by Hashem and in their honor He called to their father and commanded him what He commanded.” (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)
We must put into perspective Aharon’s involvement in the sin of the golden calf. He by no means had any intent of creating an idol or in fact doubted that his brother Moshe would come back. Indeed, he only advised the ringleaders of the rebellion to make the golden calf in order to buy time for Moshe to come back, because they had miscalculated Moshe’s return. Aharon told them to collect gold jewelry from their wives, who he knew would refuse, but he did not realize the men would force it off them. This was after his uncle, Chur, was already killed by the mob trying to calm them down. So, whatever got Hashem upset and therefore decided to not address Aharon in the Torah portion of Vayikra, and only do so after Moshe beseeched Him to do so for his children’s sake, it must have been because of some very slight misjudgment that lead to the whole debacle. Aharon is known to have been one who ran after peace, a rodef shalom; but Hashem judges his righteous strictly, according to their level. This is analogous to a concept the Ramban mentions in the beginning of his sefer about reward and punishment, Sha’ar HaGemul, where he talks about the famous Chaza”l of when Hashem judges the world on Rosh Hashana, those who are righteous go straight to life, those who are wicked go straight to death and those in the middle are held in limbo until Yom Kippur. The Ramban mentions that included in ‘the wicked’ are “those of good deeds who transgress only one sin but are sentenced on Rosh Hashana to death, meaning they will die this coming year or live through some challenging illnesses, a life of suffering and tribulation, which just means he was sentenced to a judgement of a totally wicked person even though he is in fact righteous and deserving of life in the World to Come.” We see that a person can be viewed in “the eyes of Hashem” as being wicked at this moment, even though he is in fact very righteous. For this reason Aharon fell out of favor with Hashem after his involvement with the sin of the golden calf.

But what did it help to ask Hashem to elevate Aharon’s status for the sake of his children, out of respect for them, which really is for Hashem’s honor as well? Isn’t it a game, doesn’t it sound like a lack of truth to promote someone who doesn’t deserve a promotion on his own merits?

However, of course that can’t be true. Hashem is absolutely honest and by definition He is perfectly truthful. Rather it must be that granted on his own personal merits Aharon did not deserve to be addressed at that time, which when thinking about it is a great travesty for him because the Book of Vayikra, the service of the Kohanim in the Mishkan is Aharon’s whole essence. It’s his most important role in life and now Hashem refuses to talk to him about it, only to his children?! However, the very fact that he has children so beloved to Hashem is a merit for his promotion and that is duly justified.

Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally…) this week’s haftorah for Shabbos Hagadol concludes, “that he may turn the heart of the fathers back through the children, and the heart of the children back through their fathers” (Malachi 3:24).

Vayikra – Sacrificial Offerings and Pesach: No Double Standards

This dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of my paternal grandparents, Menachem Mendel ben Chaim and Raizel ben Moshe upon their yahretzeit, the 5th of Nissan. They passed away on the same day a few years apart. 

This week we begin the Book of Vayikra which mainly discusses the sacrificial offerings first brought in the Mishkan and eventually in the Beis HaMikdash.
Rabbeinu Bachye says the simple reason of why offerings were brought to Hashem was, “The offerings were all for the sake of mankind. For The Exulted Hashem desired that man shall be the chosen species and for him the world was created in order to be totally spiritual like the angels of Hashem, without sin. But when man sinned, he was guilty because of his evil inclination (yetzer hara) embedded inside him. It is therefore befitting for him to regret, recognize, and focus on the meek state of himself and the glorified quality of his Exulted Master who he rebelled against His word. And he is obligated to place in his heart that he sinned before Him with his body and soul. Since all the actions of man can be included in 3 categories, action, speech, and thought, which are 3 ways to sin, therefore the Torah obligated man to bring a sacrifice for his sin…” (See Rabbeinu Bachye in his entirety in Vayikra 1:9).

One of the forms of sacrifice for atonement of sin was a meal offering. There is an important lesson here which relates to Pesach. The Torah states, “Any meal offering that you will bring to Hashem should not be made with chometz, for any leaven and any honey should not be burned on the fire to Hashem” (Vayikra 2:13). Rabbeinu Bachye explains that the simple reason why no chometz or honey was part of the meal offering was because, “sacrifices were an atonement for our sins, and if not for the inciter, and enticer who is the yetzer hara, man would not sin and would not need to bring a sacrifice at all. Leaven and honey are the yetzer hara itself as Chaza”l say regarding chometz and matzah on Pesach that a person must turn his heart from the yetzer hara. That is why the Torah says, ‘Don’t eat upon it chometz’ (Devarim 16:3), referring to the korban Pesach. And the Korban Pesach was an atonement for the idols they worshipped in Egypt. For this reason, He distanced them from the yetzer hara in order to not go back to idolatry…” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Rabbeinu Bachye concludes his simple understanding of why there aren’t chometz and honey in meal offerings saying, “and therefore [Hashem] distanced leaven and honey from the offering for it doesn’t make sense to have a dichotomy in one subject, furthermore it would appear as if one is trying to purify himself with a creepy crawler in his hand, this is self-understood.”
It would seem, and it seems logical, that the meal offering should ideally have been made with chometz in order for it to be a more respectable offering. We even find two pesukim later that Rabbeinu Bachye explains the simple reason of why offerings were salted “because it would be unbefitting for a sacrifice to Hashem to be bland, without salt. The Torah is teaching us proper manners that the Kingdom in Heaven is like the kingdom on earth, and in this manner, ‘Were you to offer it to your governor’ (Malachi 1:8)?” In fact, the korban todah, the thanksgiving offering, which is an offering giving thanks and not given as atonement for sin, was indeed made out of chometz. Ideally, an offering fit for The King should be given in the nicest and choicest way possible. It is only because the yetzer hara is associated with chometz and honey that the Torah did not want any association with it for an offering used as an atonement. Rabbeinu Bachye illustrated this point with the example of the korban pesach, which was brought as an atonement for idolatry in Egypt. In fact, the Jews worshipped the lamb along with the Egyptians, so Hashem said to slaughter the lamb and eat it as a means of belittling and defaming the Egyptian god, and only matzah can be eaten with it, in order to not have even a tiny hint, not even one iota of an association with, the yetzer hara, in order to have no association whatsoever with the enticement of sin.

Why then does the Rabbeinu Bachye add that the reason for not having leaven and honey is in order to not have a dichotomy in one’s offering or to not be holding onto an impure object while trying to purify himself? It seems that that is the reason why these ingredients aren’t allowed, and not because in order to leave the sinful path that one was on by going to the extreme to distance himself from any spec of sin or evil inclination?

It would seem that the main issue of having chometz with one’s offering for atonement is not the association with sin and the evil inclination but rather the self-contradiction created in such a sacrifice. Whether it sends a message of a dichotomy or actually in a sense is a real physical contradiction, in any event, to harbor such a state even though it might look more respectful and honorable for The King, it is not the way Hashem wants us to live our lives.

The Paschal Lamb and matzah as well as every other sacrificial atonement made without chometz sends a message that we must live a life of harmony and consistency.

Click here for Audio or here for video of another Pre-Pesach message.

Vayakhel and Pekudei-The More the Merrier

This Dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of Yehuda bar Chlifa, Rav Yehuda Edery z”l, on his yahretzeit, erev Shabbos, the 28th of Adar. May the learning of this dvar Torah bring merit to his holy neshama and chizuk to his rebbetzin yb”l.


This week’s double portion of Vaykhel and Pekudei concludes the Book of Shemos, and it discusses the building of the Mishkan. The last medrish of Medrish Tanchuma asks, “How long did it take to finish the Mshkan? Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachman responded that the work on the Mishkan took 3 months. Tishrei, Cheshvan, and Kislev and they left each part [of the Mishkan separate for three months during Teves, Shevat, and Adar. It was finally erected on the first of Nissan. Rebbe Chanina said that on the first of Adar they finished the work on the Mishkan. Why, because the amount of work they were able to accomplish in one day during the Summer took two days in the Winter just as Rebbe Shmuel bar Nachmani said, that it took 3 months to make the Mishkan. [If it was finished in the beginning of Adar] why wasn’t it set up immediately? It was because Hashem thought to combine the joy of the Mishkan with the joy of the day when Yitzchak Avinu was born. (In reality, the Etz Yosef says that Yitzchak Avinu was really born on the 15th of Nissan, not the 1st but since they are both in the same month it as if they happened at the same time.) The scoffers of the generation were making fun of and wondering why the work on the Mishkan was completed but the Mishkan was not assembled immediately. They did not know the thought process and advice of Hashem. About this King David said in Tehillim, ‘For You have made me happy O Lord, with Your work; with the work of Your hands I shall exult’ (Tehillim 92:5). ‘For You have made me happy O Lord, with Your work’ refers to the Ohel Moed (i.e. Mishkan) and ‘with the work of Your hands I shall exult’ refers to the building of the Beis HaMikdash which shall be rebuilt speedily in our days. [The next pasuk declares] ‘How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep,’ referring to the fact that He thought to combine one joy with another, the day Yitzchak Avinu was born…”

The Beur HaAmarim explains why Hashem combined both happy occasions: “the reason being was that at the birth of Yitzchak all of creation, on earth and in heaven, rejoiced, as mentioned earlier in the Medrish Tanchuma (parshas Toldos, paragraph 2). The reason given there was because through him the world stabilized, for it was close to reverting back to being unformed and void (tohu vavohu), if not for him bequeathing the bris milah to future generations, which through it The Honor of Hashem’s kingdom, blessed be He, is revealed, for on this condition was the world created, as the Medrish Tanchuma states in parshas Lech Licha (paragraph 19). So, since the beginning of the stabilization of the world began in the month of Nissan when Yitzchak was born, so to the setup of the Mishkan which was befitting to be done for the revelation of Hashem’s Holy Presence on earth, and completing the settlement of the word with its Creator, as well as stabilization, is befitting to be done in this month, which is the month known for joy, for Hashem celebrated joyfully with His creations.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Granted it makes sense that Hashem wanted to enhance the joy of the dedication of the Mishkan with the celebration of Yitzchak Avinu’s birthday, since that was the beginning of stabilization for the world. The completion of stabilization was the dedication of the Mishkan in order for the Shechina, Hashem’s Holy Presence to rest among us on Earth. In fact, the Etz Yosef adds that the whole reason why the Shechina rested in the Mishkan of Moshe was in the merit of Yitzchak. However, why was it worthwhile to bring about this enhancement of joy at the expense of what seems to be a chilul Hashem by scoffers questioning and making fun of Hashem for not erecting the Mishkan immediately when there was a chance?  Might it not possibly send a message to those people that Hashem was weak, chas vishalom, and had to muster up the ability for a whole month to rest His Holy Presence among them? Besides that, imagine all the nerves, stress, and pressure everyone must have been going through when they saw a delay in the completion of the Mishkan, especially since the Medrish right before this said that Hashem told Moshe on Yom Kippur to begin preparation for building the Mishkan as a resting place for the Shechina among His children after He accepted their atonement from the sin of the golden calf, the delay possibly might have caused them to question whether they were really forgiven or not. Why was it worthwhile delaying the Holy Shechina coming down and possibly dampening the simcha for the sake of trying to double the joyful celebration? Wasn’t the amount of joy they would have at the dedication of the Mishkan quite immense by itself?

We see from here how important it is to feel as happy as possible especially on auspicious occasions, and to try to enhance that feeling of ecstasy when at all possible. A practical application might be having a wedding on the same day as the chosson or kallah’s birthday, if at all possible, because that will intensify the thrill of the day and make it feel more special.

The Medrish Tanchuma concludes Sefer Shemos with, “Hashem said that in this world My Holy Presence was amongst you and before your eyes as it says, ‘And the appearance of the glory of the Lord… before the eyes of the children of Israel’ (Shemos 24:17). But in the future My Holy Presence shall never leave you forever, as it says, ‘and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever.’ (Yechezkel 37:26). ‘And I will dwell within the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people, Israel’ (Melachim Alef 6:13). Blessed is Hashem forever amen and amen.”

Ki Sisa –

Reliving History
In this week’s Torah portion of Ki Sisa we find the tragic sin of the golden calf. When Moshe Rabbeinu came down from Mount Sinai and saw what was taking place he charged, “Who is for Hashem come to me” (Shemos 32:26).  The Daas Zekeinim says that what Moshe meant was, whoever stood with fear of Hashem and did not stumble in the sin of the golden calf should come to me.

The Daas Zekeinim continues, “Immediately all of the tribe of Levi gathered around Moshe, for the tribe was complete and not one man was effected but not one tribe was found completely unscathed by all the other tribes, and therefore it writes (Devarim 33:9), ‘who said of his father and his mother, I do not see him’ by the act of the golden calf,  ‘neither did he recognize his brothers,’ by the golden calf, ‘nor did he know his children,’ by the golden calf,  ‘for they [all] observed Your word,] as opposed to the other tribes.”

The Daas Zekeinim goes on to explain why only the tribe of Levi in its totality did not sin, “And it would seem because the tribe of Levi were relatives to Moshe, not one of them wanted to replace him with another leader. And in the book of the Rambam he says that Avraham gave over the acceptance of the Torah to Yitzchak, and Yitzchak to Yaakov, and Yaakov to Levi, and his children set up yeshivas so that Torah would not disappear from them at all. And therefore, they were not subjugated in Egyptian bondage for they weren’t involved in any other work in their lifetime except toiling in Torah. And it would appear that there were 3 groups by the sin of the golden calf: (1) One group said who will walk before us and they only intended to gain a leader. (2) Another group accepted it as an idol and they were the 3000 people that were killed by the sword. (3) The tribe of Levi who all clung to Hashem.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
There are many questions that can be asked on this Daas Zekeinim. Among them:
 (A) the reason why the tribe of Levi didn’t take part in the sin was because they couldn’t come to replace their relative even though it would seem he might not be coming back, though a new leader to lead this fledgling nation would be warranted; so why did the Daas Zekeinim then bring in the Rambam? And even if the first reason and the Rambam are two different reasons, corresponding to why the tribe of Levi were not in the first two groups, why then isn’t it expressed as two different reasons? It sounds from the flow of the Daas Zekeinim that he is adding a reason as to why they did not give up on their relative.
(B) Furthermore, why did he have to mention that for the reason the Rambam gave the tribe of Levi was not enslaved in Egypt? What does that have to do with not sinning by the golden calf?
(C) Also, the Daas Zekeinim had mentioned there were others who joined the tribe of Levi who feared Hashem and did not stumble in the sin of the golden calf, but it was just that no other complete tribe was sin-free besides Levi. So which group did they belong to?
(D) Lastly, if you look at the Rambam in the actual text, he did not quote the Rambam accurately; and even if he summarized the Rambam’s teaching, it would seem he missed the point?!
The Rambam wrote: “…He [Avraham] was [saved through] a miracle and left for Charan. [There,] he began to call in a loud voice to all people and inform them that there is one God in the entire world and it is proper to serve Him. He would go out and call to the people, gathering them in city after city and country after country, until he came to the land of Canaan – proclaiming [God’s existence the entire time] – as [Genesis 21:33] states: ‘And He called there in the name of the Lord, the eternal God.’ When the people would gather around him and ask him about his statements, he would explain [them] to each one of them according to their understanding, until they turned to the path of truth. Ultimately, thousands and myriads gathered around him. These are the men of the house of Avraham. He planted in their hearts this great fundamental principle, composed texts about it, and taught it to Yitzchak, his son. Yitzchak also taught others and turned [their hearts to God]. He also taught Yaakov and appointed him as a teacher. [Yaakov] taught others and turned [the hearts] of all those who gathered around him [to God]. He also taught all of his children. He selected Levi and appointed him as the leader. He established him [as the head of] the yeshiva to teach them the way of God and observe the mitzvos of Avraham. [Yaakov] commanded his sons that the leadership should not depart from the descendants of Levi, so that the teachings would not be forgotten. This concept proceeded and gathered strength among the descendants of Jacob and those who collected around them, until there became a nation within the world which knew God. When the Jews extended their stay in Egypt, however, they learned from the [Egyptians’] deeds and began worshiping the stars as they did, with the exception of the tribe of Levi, who clung to the mitzvos of the patriarchs – the tribe of Levi never served false gods. Within a short time, the fundamental principle that Avraham had planted would have been uprooted, and the descendants of Yaacov would have returned to the errors of the world and their crookedness. Because of God’s love for us, and to uphold the oath He made to Avraham, our patriarch, He brought forth Moshe, our teacher, the master of all prophets, and sent him [to redeem the Jews]. After Moshe, our teacher, prophesied, and God chose Israel as His inheritance, He crowned them with mitzvos and informed them of the path to serve Him, [teaching them] the judgement prescribed for idol worshipers and all those who stray after it” (Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 1:3).

The Torah is the blueprints of creation and the handbook for mankind, and in fact it was always around and taught and observed by people from the beginning of time. For example, Yeshiva Shem viEver (See the Kesef Mishna on this Rambam). However, until the Jewish people as a nation accepted the Torah on Har Sinai, Torah, observance was not an obligation for anyone but just the right thing to do, which Avraham figured out on his own after it was lost to the masses for many years. He gave over his beliefs and the Torah he was able to figure out on his own to Yitzchak, who in turn taught it to Yaakov, who, in turn, in fact taught it to all his children, the 12 tribes, but appointed Levi as the leader of the mesora, tradition, and the leadership of the mesora was to be passed down from generation to generation through the tribe of Levi. So, it would seem that the reason why the tribe of Levi never stumbled in idol worship was because they felt a responsibility as leaders to uphold the mesora their forefathers gave them of keeping the Torah. If that is the case, what does that have to do with what the Daas Zekeinim said that they “set up yeshivas so that Torah would not disappear from them at all?” Where is that mentioned anywhere in the Rambam? The reason why they weren’t involved in idol worship and therefore were not involved in the sin of the golden calf was because they felt obligated to stick to a higher moral standard since they were expected to be leaders, not because they opened up yeshivas and were constantly engrossed in Torah learning?!

It would seem though that the Daas Zekeinim understood that even leaders with expectations of higher moral standards can fall prey to the temptations around them in an immoral society. Therefore it must be that only because they were so involved in toiling in Torah that it became their life force, their bloodline, to the extent that even the Egyptians saw their commitment and allowed them to not join the physical workforce of slavery. Not only was the leader of the generation involved in Torah learning, but the entire tribe was involved in opening up yeshivas and learning in them fulltime, and it made an impact on others, causing them to join at least on some level, which instilled in them Fear of Heaven and a moral code. For this reason, the tribe of Levi as a whole did not sin at all by the golden calf, and presumably those who felt a profound influence from the tribe of Levi were included in the group of those who were G-D fearing and did not succumb to the sin of the golden calf. Also, without that commitment to the Torah and its moral code, presumably they would not have been steadfast to their relative, Moshe Rabbeinu, and they would have lost hope, as others did, of him ever returning.

We learn from here that there must be a group of people who are totally committed to being completely engrossed in the learning and teaching of Torah to themselves and the masses in order for Torah to be correctly observed and preserved. We see this is true even today. What is happening now, in this day and age with the Jewish landscape seems to mirror what the Rambam is describing. May we find our “Moshe Rabbeinu” who will redeem us and brings us to the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.