Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Stronger Wins Self-sacrifice Pays

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Our sugya explains that if two people argue about the ownership of a boat and each has equal proof, “the stronger wins.” According to the Rosh, this means that “he who is right is willing to endanger himself to get what is truly his.”

HaGaon Rav Natan Gestetner uses our Gemora to clarify the following topic: The Torah praises Moshe at his demise, saying: “No other prophet arose in Israel like Moshe… [known for] the strong hand… that Moshe made” (Devarim 34:10-12). Rashi comments: “for receiving the tablets with his hands.”

Why does the Torah specially praise Moshe for accepting the tablets with his hands? In his Gur Aryeh, Maharal of Prague explains, according to the Yerushalmi, that when the people worshipped the golden calf, Moshe held on to the tablets by two handbreadths, Hashem held on to two handbreadths and two handbreadths remained between them. [Each tablet was six handbreadths wide, six tall and three thick, as we learned in Bava Basra 14a; their corners were thus square and not round, as depicted by certain gentile artists.] When the people sinned, Hashem tried to seize the tablets from Moshe, but Moshe was stronger and grabbed them back and the Torah therefore praises him for his strong hand.

Rav Gestetner adds another aspect: The Torah cannot be divided piecemeal: “Hashem’s Torah is whole, restoring the soul” (Tehilim 19:8). It restores our souls only when whole, and could not be divided between Hashem and Moshe. The Torah therefore praises Moshe, that by his self-sacrifice in seizing the tablets with all his might (from Hashem and fearless of the consequences!), we have indeed received the whole Torah – known as Toras Moshe! (Lehoros Nasan on the Torah IV p.212).