This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
This D’var Torah is based on my notes from a Parsha Shiur for Parshas Mishpatim. I could not locate the audio Shiur, but I believe that it was given sometime between 5777-5779. But, as I’m writing this D’var Torah based on only shorthand notes, I won’t necessarily be as precise in my presentation, although I will attempt as usual to match the format and “voice” of my Rebbi.
*Parshas Va’Es’chanan begins with Moshe Rabbeinu’s reflection of how he Davened and implored that Hashem allow him access to Eretz Yisrael. However, Hashem responded, “רַב־לָ֔ךְ אַל־תּ֗וֹסֶף דַּבֵּ֥ר אֵלַ֛י ע֖וֹד בַּדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה…”-“It is enough for you; do not continue speaking to Me further about this matter.” (Devarim 3:26)
The question is why it is that Hashem found it necessary to “forbid” Moshe from Davening. It is one thing for Hashem to refuse Moshe’s request; Hashem has the authority to say, “I’m sorry, but the answer is ‘No.'” But, why would Hashem instruct him to stop Davening? (*It sounds almost as though Hashem is losing patience, which is obviously implausible.)
*The Midrash Aggadah (Devarim 3:23) points out that Moshe Rabbeinu had already Davened 515 Tefilos just for this one request (the Gematria of Va’Es’chanan). Some suggest that although Hashem had already decided against fulfilling Moshe’s request, had Moshe actually Davened one more Tefilah, Hashem would have had “no choice” but to give in, against His own decided plan and design. That is why Hashem had to stop Moshe from praying further. But, why should that have been the case? What would have been the significance of one more Tefilah? Was it a question of numbers? Or, perhaps, did it have to do with the nature of Moshe’s Tefilah? To understand the significance of one more Tefilah, we have to consider what in fact Moshe’s Tefilah sounded like.
What was Moshe’s Tefilah?
Do we have any records of Moshe’s Tefilah? In fact, there is such a text brought down in the Yalkut Shim’oni (814:3), suggesting that the Tefilah of Moshe Rabbeinu was taken straight out of Parshas Mishpatim. (The Midrash can be found below.)
ה’ אלהים אתה החלות להראות את עבדך אמר לפניו רבש”ע אתה קראתני עבד משה עבדי לא כן עבדי משה, ולויתן קראתו עבד, אני מתחנן לפניך והוא מתחנן לפניך שנאמר הירבה אליך תחנונים, תחנת לויתן שמעת וכרת עמו ברית וקיימתו שנאמר היכרות ברית עמך תקחנו לעבד עולם. אני עבדך ואמרת לי (הנני) [הנה אנכי] כורת ברית ולא קימת אלא אמרת עלה ומות בהר ולא עוד אלא כתבת בתורה ואם אמר יאמר העבד וגו’ ואני אהבתי אותם ותורתך ובינך לא אצא חפשי איני מבקש למות והגישו אדוניו אל האלהים ועבדו לעולם [לא קיימת עמי] שמעה אלהים רנתי ואל תתעלם מתחנתי אמר לו הקב”ה רב לך.
Moshe Rabbeinu’s Tefilah was apparently inspired by the words of the Eved Ivri just before becoming an Eved Nirtza (a servant whose ear is pierced). After all, Moshe was described as an “Eved Hashem.” And what does the Eved Ivri declare at the end of his services, at the completion of seven years, in the event that he does not want to go free? The Torah writes:
“אִם־אָמֹ֤ר יֹאמַר֙ הָעֶ֔בֶד אָהַ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־אֲדֹנִ֔י אֶת־אִשְׁתִּ֖י וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑י לֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א חׇפְשִֽׁי׃”
“But if the slave declares, “I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free” (Shemos 21:5).
And should the Eved Ivri make this declaration, then the Torah tells us that his ear is pierced and he continues to serve “L’Olam” (lit., perpetually, forever) (Ibid. 21:6). Thus, Moshe Davened and began to recite this formula. “אָהַ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־אֲדֹנִ֔י”–“I love You Hashem, My Master!” “אֶת־אִשְׁתִּ֖י”–“I love my wife, Your Torah!” “וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑י”-“And I love my children, the B’nei Yisrael!” Therefore, “לֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א חׇפְשִֽׁ”–“I do not wish to go free, to die. I want to continue to serve You forever.” Says the Midrash that it was in response to this beautiful Tefilah that Hashem insisted, “Rav Lach”-“it is too much.” Why was this Tefilah “too much”? What would one more Tefilah upon this one have accomplished?
“If He Shall Surely Say” – Until He Says and Repeats
Various M’forshim (R’ Elchanan Wasserman, Panim Yafos, R’ Chaim Soloveitchik) answer this question in the name of the Maharal Diskin who cites the Gemara in Kiddushin (22A), where the Gemara picks up on the double Lashon in the description of the Eved Ivri. As the Gemara, what is the meaning of ״אִם אָמֹר יֹאמַר״-“if he shall surely say”?
Says the Gemara, “עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר וְיִשְׁנֶה”-“until he says it and repeats it,” i.e. if he says it twice. In other words, if the Eved Ivri insists and declares the formula twice, then do we pierce his ear so that he will serve “L’Olam.” In other words, once Moshe Rabbeinu uttered these words, Hashem had to stop Moshe lest he repeat them once more, at which point, He would have “no choice.”
If He Doesn’t Love Him
R’ Eliyahu Baruch Finkel asks a very simple question on this conclusion. The very same Gemara indicates that even if the Eved is insistent that he wants to stay, the Adon could still say “No.” The master does not need to concede to the wishes of the Eved. So, why couldn’t Hashem decline?
The answer is that, indeed, the Adon can decline, however there is a caveat. The Gemara quotes the Pasuk in Parshas Re’eih which qualifies the conditions under which the Eved may continue to serve. If the Eved loves the Rav (Master), but the Rav does not love him back, then the Eved will not continue to serve, as a the Pasuk states,
״כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ״-“For it is good for him with you” (Devarim 15:16). And yet, if the Rav loves the Eved, but the Eved does not truly love his Rav despite his insistence that he continue to serve (Ritva: Out of poverty and desperation), then in that case as well, the Eved will not continue to serve, as the Pasuk there states, “כִּי אֲהֵבְךָ”-“Because he loves you.”
It is clear that none of the above applied to the relationship between Moshe Rabbeinu and HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Moshe loved Hashem, and Hashem undoubtedly loved Moshe. Thus, had Moshe repeated the plea of the Eved Ivri, there would have been no alternative. Due to the incredible love between Hashem and Moshe, Hashem would have “legally” needed to give in to his request.
*We should be Zocheh to have such a relationship with Hashem, relationships which engender such powerful, effective, and most heartfelt Tefilos, and Hashem should answer our Tefilos L’Tov, that we should be able to return to Eretz Yisrael with the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos Nachamu.