Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Moshe as a King

The Gemora (Kesuvos 74a) had stated: All conditions are learned out from the stipulation that Moshe made with the tribes of Gad and Reuven. (For any condition to be valid, it must be similar to that condition.) A condition that may be executed by an agent, as Moshe did there (Moshe instructed Yehoshua to act, so to speak, as his agent to give the east bank of the Jordan to them), is a valid condition. However, any stipulation that cannot be executed by an agent is not regarded as a valid condition. (Chalitzah cannot be accomplished through an agent and therefore, a stipulation cannot be attached to it.)

The Pnei Yehoshua asks: If Moshe would be giving the tribes of Gad and Reuven something that belonged to him, and he would instruct Yehoshua to act on his behalf, Yehoshua would be regarded as an agent. However, Moshe was only distributing to them land that was an inheritance to them; why should Yehoshua be considered an agent?

He answers that the land of Sichon and Og was not included in Klal Yisroel’s inheritance. Their land belonged to Moshe since it was captured by Moshe and he had the status of a king. As a king, he was allowed to take possession of this land. Moshe, out of his good-heartedness decided to give away this land to the tribes of Gad and Reuven. It emerges that the instructions to Yehoshua rendered him as an agent of Moshe.

Incidentally, I noticed an interesting Makneh in his explanation of a Gemora in Kiddushin (32b). The Gemora relates that Rabban Gamliel was serving his guests by the wedding feast for his son. The Gemora explains that a Nasi is permitted to renounce the honor that should be given to him.

The Makneh asks from the Medrash in Parshas Yisro which states that Moshe acted as the waiter for Yisro and the other guests at the feast. Why was it permissible for Moshe, who had the status of a king, to forego the honor that one is required to give to a king? The halacha is that a king is not allowed to waive this honor!

He answers by citing the source for this halacha. The Gemora (Kesuvos 17a) states that it is written [Devarim 17:15]: Surely you shall appoint a king over you. This (the double expression of som tasim) means that his awe shall be over you at all times. The Makneh explains that at the moment a king chooses to waive his honor, it is tantamount to resigning from royalty and this is not allowed, for we are commanded to enthrone a king over us continually. This is only applicable after the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisroel and were commanded to enthrone a king; however, in the Desert, although Moshe was regarded as a king, he was permitted to waive his honor and serve his guests.


Chatzkel said...

Nice vort! Isn't there a Rashi someplace that says Moshe was a Nasi, not a melech?

Avromi said...

Rashi in Kiddushin 33b states that Moshe was a Nasi (he doesn't say that he wasn't a melech). Rashi in Shavuos 15a says that he was a melech like the Gemora Zevochim 102a states.

I did not notice anyone explaining that Rashi; yasherkoach!