Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rav Isser Wolfson: Parshas Yisro


I used to attend a chumash shiur given by HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita who is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. At the time I transcribed the shiurim and after Rav Wolfson reviewed what I had written, I distributed them via email. I b'li neder will be posting a sample of the divrei torah every week.


Here is a sample from the shiur on Parshas Yisro given in 5763.

The Torah tells us that Miriam was punished for saying loshon hara about Moshe and questioning why Moshe separated from his wife when other nevi'im didn't. Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt"l (Koveitz Ma’amarim) asks that it would appear that Miriam was also kofer in one of the Ikkarim. One of the Ikkarim is the belief that Moshe was the greatest navi that ever lived. When Miriam spoke loshon hora about Moshe she was basically equating the nevuah of Moshe with the nevuah of other nevi'im. Why wasn’t Miriam punished for also being kofer b’ikkar? Rav Elchanan answers that the idea that Moshe was the greatest Navi did not become an ikkar until the Torah told it to us. Miriam spoke loshon hara before this happened and therefore she was not a kofer b’ikkar.

The kasha everyone asks on Rav Elchanan is that the Ramban (Yisro 19:9) says that “v’gam b'cha ya’aminu l’olam” teaches us that the Bnei Yisroel were told at Matan Torah that Moshe’s nevuah was on a higher madreigah than any other Navi. Therefore, Miriam should have already known this and again we can ask why wasn’t she considered a kofer b’ikkar?

The answer lies in understanding the difference between Moshe’s nevuah and the nevuah of the other nevi'im. Every other navi only received nevuah b’zechus Klal Yisroel. Moshe, on the other hand, received his nevuah b’zechus atzmo, based on his own merits. However, there appears to be a Mechiltah that contradicts this. The Mechiltah in Parshas Bo says Moshe only received his nevuah b’zechus Klal Yisroel and the rayah to this is the fact that during the 38 years in the midbar in which the Bnei Yisroel were in nidui, Moshe did not receive nevuah.

There is a machlokes between Rashi and Tosfos in Yevomos (72) over what was the reason that the B'nei Yisroel were put in nidui. Rashi learns that it was because of the cheit ha'eigel and Tosfos learns it was because of the cheit meraglim. Tosfos agrees with Rashi that Klal Yisroel was in cherem after the eigel, however, HKBH forgave them when he said “salachti”. According to Tosfos, the nidui that lasted for 38 years was from the cheit meraglim. In any event, we see that everyone agrees that from 17 Tamuz (the ma’aseh eigel) until Moshe went back up to shamayim and Hashem said salachti (19 Tammuz), that the Bnei Yisroel were in cherem.
During this period the Torah says that Moshe spoke to Hashem directly. This would seem to contradict the Mechilta mentioned above and would imply that Moshe’s madreigah of nevuah did come b’zechus atzmo and not b’zechus Klal Yisroel. What you have to say is that when Moshe was being m’kabeil the Torah, then indeed his nevuah came b’zechus atzmo. However, the Mechiltah was talking about the rest of the years and during those years his nevuah came only b’zechus Klal Yisroel.

With this we can understand why Miriam was not kofer b’ikkar. Miriam understood that Moshe’s nevuah was different than all other Neviim. However, Miriam thought that even though Moshe's nevuah was on a higher madreigah, nevertheless his nevuah still came b’zechus Klal Yisroel and not b’zechus atzmo. Consequently, there was no need for him to separate from his wife. Her mistake was that she should have realized from the short period after the cheit ha’eigel that Moshe was on the madreigah to receive nevuah b’zechus atzmo and in fact it was necessary for him to separate from his wife.

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