Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Parshas Va'Eira:Moshe's Nevuah

Everyone know that teh Torah proclaims Moshe as the greatest navi whoever lived or will live. The question though is when did Moshe attain his status as a navi. This question can really be divided into two parts. First of all when did Moshe become a navi and second of all when did the B'nei Yisroel accept him as a navi.

Regarding the first question it seems pretty straight forward to say that when Hashem spoke to Moshe by the burning bush that his nevuah career began. It is the second question, when did the B'nei Yisroel accept him, that is not so simple.

The Rambam in Hil Yesodei HaTorah Perek 7-9 discusses the idea of nevuah. The Rambam writes that the B'nei Yisroel's emunah in Moshe did not come from the osos and mofsim which he performed but rather through the experience of Matan Torah. To me it is not clear exactly what the Rambam means. If one looks in the Rishonim you will find two mehalchim and I am not sure which one the Rambam holds like.

Sefer Ikkarim

The Sefer Ikkarim in Ma'amar 1 Perek 18 states very clearly that the B'nei Yisroel did not believe in the metzius of nevuah before Matan Torah. They viewed Moshe as someone who was close to Hashem and could perform miracles when needed. However, Moshe was no different then Nakdimon ben Gurion who caused the sun to stand still or Pinchas ben Yair who split the Jordan. These people were not neviim but rather due to their special relationship with HAshem, they could perform miracles. This is how the B'nei Yisroel saw Moshe.
I would like to point out that I don't think this means that Moshe didn't receive nevuah before Har Sinai-he clearly did, it just means the B'nei Yisroel didn't believe it could have happened.

However, at Har Sinai, the B'nei Yisroel themselves experienced nevuah. Once this happened they realized it was possible for Hashem to "speak" to someone and from that point on they viewed Moshe as a Navi. Furthermore, the second revelation the B'nei Yisroel had at Har Sinai was that they heard HKBH give the Torah to Moshe. From this point on they realized that Moshe was HKBH's direct shaliach to give over the Torah and consequently noone had the right to add or subtract to Toras Moshe.

Drashos HaRan/Ramban

Both the Drashos HaRan (Drasha 11 and 12) and the Ramban (Shemos Perek 19) argue on this approach. The Ramban arguing on an Ibn Ezra who is ismilar to the Ikkarim asks, how can you say B'nei Yisroel didn't know about nevuah. The Avos had nevuah and there was a mesorah that the Avos were neveiim. The Derashas Haran also writes that in Parshas Shoftim Moshe says you can test a navi "kamoni". "kamoni" means just like Moshe showed B'nei Yisroel osos and mofsim before taking them out so too a Navi should show osos and mofsim. Clearly the Ran holds that the point of the osos and mofsim were to convince the B'nei Yisroel he was a navi.

The Ramban and Ran would agree to the second point of the Ikkarim. Namely, that the point of Har Sinai was so that teh B'nei Yisroel would relaize that Moshe was HKBH's direct shaliach to give over the Torah and consequently noone had the right to add or subtract to Toras Moshe.

Nafka Mina

The nafka mina between these two approaches would be the following. Were the B'nei Yisroel required to listen to Moshe b'toras navi before Matan Torah. The Rambam paskens that a person who is fit to be a navi and proves he is a navi has to be listened to. Did this apply to Moshe before Matan Torah? According to the Ikkarim, l'chorah not. Since the B'nei Yisroel didn't even believe in the metzius of nevuah, one can't expect them to have a chiyuv to listen to Moshe b'toras navi.

According to the Ran and Ramban, the B'nei Yisroel were required to listen to Moshe b'toras navi before Matan Torah. However, they would agree that before Matan Torah there was no such thing as Toras Moshe. Therefore, if another navi got up to contradict Moshe then one could presumably listen to that other navi. The Chiddush of Har Sinai was that the Torah became Toras Moshe and a navi can no longer get up and permanently change it.

Question on Ikkarim

I do have 2 kashas on the Ikkarim.

1) First of all the gemara in Sanhedrin 88 says a navi muchzak can be okeir the Torah temporarily. The 2 examples the gemara gives is Eliyahu bringing shechutei chutz and Avraham bringing Yitzchak on the akeida. Yitzchak had to listen to Avraham since he was a navi muchzak. According to the Ikkarim, how did Yitzchak know about nevuah. If he knew about it why didn't the B'nei Yisroel know about it in Mitzrayim.

Maybe one could answer that Yitzchak himself experienced nevuah. Therefore, since he knew about nevuah and since Avraham was a navi muchzak, he had a chiyuv to listen to Avraham.

2) The second kasha is that Moshe told the B'nei Yisroel the mitzva of Kiddush Hachodesh. If he wasn't viewed as a navi what chiyuv was there to listen this mitzvah?

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