Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Terumah
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Adar 1 5778
As we said, this coming Thursday is 7 Adar, the birthday – as well as the Yahrtzeit (the 3,370th, by my count) – of Moshe Rabbeinu. The Gemara in Menachot 29 tells a rather bizarre story: When Moshe went up on Har Sinai to receive the Torah, he saw Hashem sitting & attaching "Tagin - crowns" to selected letters (Shin, Ayin, Tet, Nun, Zayin, Gimel & Tzadee) of the Torah. Moshe was puzzled by these crowns, but G-d explained:

"Generations from now, there will be a man named Akiva who will derive meaning from every single stroke."

Moshe asked to see this person & was whisked to Rabbi Akiva’s Bet Medrash & seated in the back. But as he listened, he failed to understand the lesson being taught, & began to feel faint. Just then, a student asked Akiva: "From where do you derive these laws?" Rabbi Akiva answered: "These laws were given to Moshe on Mt. Sinai!" And Moshe was relieved, and satisfied.

After hearing this story, I wondered: If Moshe was transported here today, would he be satisfied with our state of affairs? So I suggest:

Moshe, first & foremost, was the Lawgiver, the principal purveyor of G-d’s Torah. I think he’d be quite pleased that Torah is being studied all over the world, most widely in Israel. Men, women, young children, Yeshiva students,
religious & secular Jews alike have a deep affection for learning Torah; in fact, no generation before us ever had more commentaries on, or copies of the Torah.

Moshe was also a fierce fighter for truth & justice. From the moment he killed the Egyptian taskmaster, he stood up for what was right, even if it meant confronting Hashem Himself. I think he would be appalled at the way Jews are
maligned and under attack today in so many places, at all the lies & slander cast our way. He’d urge us to battle that injustice – as well as eradicate the corruption that all too often infects our own society & tarnishes our good name and holy character.

Moshe loved the Jewish People with all his heart, & he sacrificed mightily for us. He never considered himself better than anyone else, & reached out to every Jew. I think he’d be tremendously impressed by the countless acts of Chesed done each moment by Jews, & the myriad charitable organizations in the Jewish world - though he would be appalled by the persistent curse of infighting among our People that he experienced in his own time, & hoped would someday end.

Finally, Moshe’s last & perhaps most ardent wish was to come to Israel. He tried every which-way to convince Hashem to stamp his "Teudat Z’hut," but it was not to be. Yet he would be thrilled to see the amazing number of Jews who now live in Israel, & the fantastic nation we have built. But what would he say about all those Jews who have yet to accept the precious gift the Almighty has given us? For all his unmatched wisdom, even Moshe would be hard-pressed to answer that question.
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