Blog Yomi – Nedarim #37/Daf 38

As we begin on דף ל״ח עמוּד א, we continue with the concept that teachers models themselves after the ultimate Rebbe – מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, who taught selflessly without financial compensation. If so, the Gemara asks, how did he become wealthy?

אָמַר רַבִּי חָמָא בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא: לֹא הֶעֱשִׁיר מֹשֶׁה אֶלָּא מִפְּסוֹלְתָּן שֶׁל לוּחוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״פְּסל לְךָ שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים כָּרִאשֹׁנִים״ — פְּסוֹלְתָּן שֶׁלְּךָ יְהֵא

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רַבִּי חָמָא בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא said: מֹשֶׁה became wealthy only from the waste remaining from hewing the לוּחוֹת, as it is stated: “Hew for you two tablets of stone like the first” (פְּסל־לְךָ֛ שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִ֖ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֑ים [Shemos 34:1]). “פְּסל לְךָ” means that their waste shall be yours. As the tablets were crafted from valuable gems, their remnants were similarly valuable.

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא: לֹא נִיתְּנָה תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְזַרְעוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״כְּתב לְךָ״, ״פְּסל לְךָ״: מָה פְּסוֹלְתָּן שֶׁלְּךָ — אַף כְּתָבָן שֶׁלְּךָ. מֹשֶׁה נָהַג בָּהּ טוֹבַת עַיִן וּנְתָנָהּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, וְעָלָיו הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר: ״טוֹב עַיִן הוּא יְבֹרָךְ וְגוֹ׳״

רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא said: The Torah was given initially only to מֹשֶׁה and his descendants, as it is stated: “Write for you” (Shemos 34:27), and it is also stated: “Hew for you” (Shemos 34:1), meaning: Just as their waste is yours, so too their writing is yours. However, מֹשֶׁה treated the Torah with generosity and gave it to the Jewish people. And about him, the verse says: “He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed, as he gives of his bread to the poor” (Mishlei 22:9).

Let’s Zoom ahead to the Gemara that identifies the characteristics that made מֹשֶׁה worthy of communing with the שְׁכִינָה:

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָתוֹ אֶלָּא עַל גִּבּוֹר וְעָשִׁיר וְחָכָם וְעָנָיו, וְכוּלָּן מִמֹּשֶׁה. גִּבּוֹר, דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּפְרֹשׂ אֶת הָאֹהֶל עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן״, וְאָמַר מָר: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ פְּרָסוֹ, וּכְתִיב: ״עֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת אֹרֶךְ הַקָּרֶשׁ וְגוֹ׳״. אֵימָא דַּאֲרִיךְ וְקַטִּין

R’ Yocḥanan said: הקבּ״ה rests His Divine Presence only upon one who is mighty, and wealthy, and wise, and humble. And all of these qualities are derived from מֹּשֶׁה. He was mighty, as it is written: “And he spread the tent over the Tabernacle” (Shemos 40:19), and the Master said: מֹשֶׁה, our teacher, spread it himself. And it is written: “Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each board” (Shemos 26:16). מֹשֶׁה was tall and strong enough to spread the tent over the boards alone. The Gemara asks: Say that he was tall and thin, and the fact that he was mighty cannot be derived.

אֶלָּא מִן הָדֵין קְרָא, דִּכְתִיב: ״וָאֶתְפֹּשׂ בִּשְׁנֵי הַלֻּחֹת וָאַשְׁלִכֵם מֵעַל שְׁתֵּי יָדָי וָאֲשַׁבְּרֵם״, וְתַנְיָא: הַלּוּחוֹת ארְכָּן שִׁשָּׁה וְרחְבָּן שִׁשָּׁה וְעבְיָין שְׁלֹשָׁה.

Rather, the fact that מֹשֶׁה was mighty is derived from this pasuk, as it is written: “And I took hold of the two tablets, and cast them out of my two hands, and broke them before your eyes” (Devorim 9:17), and it is taught in a baraisa: The tablets, their length was six handbreadths, and their width was six handbreadths, and their thickness was three handbreadths. If מֹשֶׁה was capable of lifting and casting a burden that heavy, apparently he was mighty.

The Gemara then brings more evidence that מֹשֶׁה was wise, wealthy, strong, and modest. We should also bear in mind that when one has the qualities of wisdom, wealth, and strength, it makes retaining a great deal of humility all the more remarkable.

Well it’s time to wrap up. and let Rabbi Stern take you the rest of the way. I only have an hour left on the clock here on the West Coast before spending our first Shabbos together with our beautiful little great-granddaughter, Chaya Liba.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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