Anshei Shalom and Chabad of East Lakeview.
Understanding the first two Verses of this week’s Sedra
Verse 31:1 VaYelish Moshe – Moshe went. Where did he go?
Verse 31:2 Why didn’t Moshe Go Into Israel
This week is Shabbos Shuva. We ate by Sidney and Lisa Friday night and I overate. To make up for it, I walked to Anshei Shalom and Chabad of East Lakeview, walking 13 total miles. The temperature was in the mid 80s and I sweated.
I arrived at Anshei Shalom at 10:15. They were already done with Leining. I davened Musaf and then after Kedushah I davened Scharis. Met a few of my old friends. Spoke to Jonathan Silverstein, Mateo and Ilana (Borzak) Aceves, and Josh Lewis, who recently had a second child. Rabbi Wolkenfeld gave his Shabobs Shuva Drasha at 11:45 AM. Rabbi Wolkenfeld asked Rabbi Tzvi Rimon a question on Shmittha. Places advertise that they will sell a person a 4 Amah by 4 Amah plot of land so that someone in America can observe Shmita by having their newly purchased land lay fallow. Rabbi Rimon went through the Mitzvah of Shmittah and basically said, it is a nice thing to do, but there is no requirement.
At 12:45 walked over to the Chabad of East Lakeview. I arrived towards the end of their Kiddush. Washed and had Cholent along with a chicken wrap. Afterwards I gave over some Torah in the Chumash Shiur we have in honor of Dr. Leonard Kranzler..
First Dvar Torah
וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אֶל־כׇּל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
The question is asked. Where will Moshe go? The Torah does not explain. Similar to Parshas Korach which opens with ויקח קרח. The Meforshim strive to explain what Korach took. Either he took himself to one side to fight with Moshe or he took the 250 members of the Sanhedrin. Here too in our Parsha Meforshim try to explain where Moshe went.
To put this Parsha in context, this was the last day of Moshe’s life. In the previous Parsha of Netzvim, the entire nation stood before Moshe and Moshe brought them into a covenant with Hashem. In VaYalich Moshe is again speaking to all the Jewish people. Was Parshas VaYalich a continuation of the previous Parsha in which Moshe continued to speak to the entire congregation who were assembled or not.
First Explanation – Rashi
Rashi: וילך משה. וגו’ – Moses went, etc.
Seemingly Rashi is saying nothing. וגו means etc. Artscroll notes this and says that this Rashi is not an explanation of anything, just giving us a marker that this is a new Parsha. Artscroll explains – “these words do not appear in most early editions of Rashi. They were added, with or without the word וגו, in later editions, in order to identify the beginning of the new parashah.” Meaning that these are not the words of Rashi. For some reason the editor of Chumash decided to put in these words.
Okay, perhaps, but Artscroll would have to explain why only here do we have these words and not any other Parsha. I am very reluctant to diminish any word that we have in our printed editions.
I think that Rashi wrote this and this one abbreviated word וגו is a commentary of וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה.
The word וגו means “and the continued text” in the Torah. Rashi is saying that Moshe went and continued to serve as the agent of Hashem to Israel. He told the people of his impending death and that they should be strong, God will be with them. וילך משה is not that Moshe went anywhere, but he continued to serve the Jewish people.
Second Explanation – Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Chezkuni- Moshe went to each tribe.
The Ramban and Ibn Ezra explain it as Moshe went to each tribe. (The Ramban does not say to each tribe, but I assume that is what he meant.) In the previous Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, the Jewish people were standing in front of Moshe. After entering the Jews in the Bris with God, the people went home to their tents. This Parsha starts off with וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה . The Ramban and Ibn Ezra say beautifully that Moshe went to each tribe to say his goodbyes. This is his last day on earth. Meeting with each tribe individually, Is a more intimate setting then with all of Israel together. This was very emotional. I could see the following transpiring – Moshe thanked them for following his leadership. He told them that we had done it, we have come to the promised land. The people cried and apologized for any problems they caused. Moshe cried. They hugged and kissed each other. Then he told them that God will be with them and that they should be strong and fearful. He told them that their leader is Yehoshua, that he is a good man. The Ibn Ezra goes so far to say that at this time is when he gave each tribe their Bracha that is written in וזאת הברכה .
The Chezkuni adds that Moshe’s inability to gather all the people is for a different reason Moshe normally assembled the people by blowing the חצוצרות and everyone knew to assemble. However, since Moshe was to die that day, the powers of leadership were taken away from him and he could not find the חצוצרות to assemble to people because God hid them from Moshe. Moshe was forced to go to each tribe and this produced a beautiful, emotional goodbye.
Ramban – The Ramban eloquently says this Pshat.:
וילך משה כאשר השלים כל דבריו אז הלכו כל הנצבים לפניו והטף והנשים איש לאהליו ולא הוצרך הכתוב להזכיר זה כי כבר אמר (לעיל כט ט יא) אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה’ אלהיכם וגו’ לעברך בברית ה’ אלהיך ואחר עברם בברית ילכו מפניו ויאמר הכתוב עתה כי משה הלך ממחנה לויה אל מחנה ישראל לכבדם כמי שירצה להפטר מחבירו ובא ליטול רשות ממנו:
AND MOSES WENT. When Moses concluded his words, all who stood before him, and the young children, and the women returned to their own tents. It was not necessary for Scripture to mention this [that they returned to their tents], for it already stated, Ye are standing this day all of you before the Eternal your G-d;1Above, 29:9. that thou shouldest enter into the covenant of the Eternal thy G-d,2Ibid., Verse 11. and [it is self-understood that] after having entered the covenant they would go away from him [Moses]. And so Scripture now states that Moses went from the camp of the Levites to the camp of the Israelites in order to show them honor, like someone who wishes to take leave of his friend and comes to ask permission of him.
וילך. הלך אל כל שבט ושבט להודיע שהוא מת שלא יפחדו וחזק לבם בדברי יהושע על כן כתוב אחריו ואתה תנחילנה אותם ולפי דעתי כי אז ברך השבטים ואם ברכותיהם מאוחרות במכתב:
AND MOSES WENT. Moses went to each tribe and tribe to inform them that he was about to die and that they should not fear.1For they would not be left leaderless. He strengthened them. He encouraged them. with his words to Joshua.3Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt go with this people into the land, etc.,(vs. 7,8). Scripture therefore afterwards reads, and thou shalt cause them to inherit it (v. 7). I believe that at that time he blessed the tribes. This is so even though the blessings are recorded later.6
חזקוני – continues on this same theme.
וילך משה מאהל מועד שהיה דר שם שנאמר והחונים לפני משכן ה׳ משה ואהרן ובניו. והלך לו אצל כל שבט ושבט להודיעם כי הוא מת ולא יפחדו אך יחזקו לבם בדברי יהושע, ולמה הוצרך לטרוח וללכת אחריהם היה לו לכנסם בחצוצרות שעשה משה, אלא אמר ר׳ יהושע דסכנין משום ר׳ לוי חצוצרות שעשה משה במדבר כיון שנטה משה למות גנזן הקב״ה שלא יהא משה תוקע בהן והם באין אצלו לקיים מה שנאמר ואין שלטון ביום המות.
Third Explanation – Sforno – He was self-propelled, motivated. Moshe felt the need to comfort the Jewish people tribe by tribe on his impending death and do not be sad. Be glad that you have entered into the covenant with God. This is what we all strived for and you have to continue in strength.
וילך משה התעורר לזה כמו וילך איש מבית לוי. וילך ויעבוד ודומיהם. וזה שאחר שהשלים עניני כריתת הברית התעורר לנחם את ישראל על מיתתו כדי שלא יערבבו שמחת הברית הראויה להם להורות על היותם מקבלים הברית בשמחה על דרך ישמח ישראל בעושיו כאמרו וזבחת שלמים ואכלת שם ושמחת לפני ה’ אלהיך:
He roused himself to do so, just as was Amram, Moses’ father who married his aunt Yocheved, daughter of Levi, and almost certainly many years his senior. (Exodus 2,1) Another of many uses of the word VaYelich meaning that the person described acted of their own initiative is found in Deut. 17,3 where the Jewish idolater described had not been seduced by anyone, the idolator roused himself to believe in a foregih deity. After having concluded the matter of the covenant between G’d and this second generation of Israelites, many of whom had not been born at the time of the Exodus, Moses now proceeds to comfort the people over his impending death. He does so in order that the joy over G’d having concluded this covenant with them should not be turned into sorrow over the prospect of his impending passing from the scene. Rejoicing over having been found fit to become a party to such a covenant is something natural, the psalmist in Psalms 149,2 speaking of Israel rejoicing with or over its Maker. Being in G’d’s presence, such as here, is always a joyful experience, as is offering sacrifices to Him, as we know from Deut. 27,7.when the occasion was to mark the erecting of the stones after the successful crossing of the river Jordan.
Fourth Explanation – Baal Haturim:
Moshe went to the Avos, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yakov to tell them that God is fulfilling his promise that the Jews are to enter the land of Israel. The Baal Haturim links the last Pasuk of last week’s Sedra to the first two words of this Sedra.
The Me’am Lo’ez sums it up.
“Mose’s tent was situated before the Sanctuary, set off slightly from the encampment of the remainder of the people. He went from tribe to tribe, telling the people that although he would die today, they should not fear the future. Rather, they should follow Joshua and dara confidence from this leadership.
Usually, Moshe gathered the entire people by sounding the trumpets specifically made for this purpose. On this day, God stored them away so that Moshe could not use them for this purpose, thus giving expression to the adage ’There is no authority on the day of one’s death.”
Although Moshe surely had many personal concerns on this final day of his worldly existence, he ignored them all and sought to reassure the Jewish people. This is the many of the righteous. Rather than be involved in their own personal affairs, they dedicate themselves to the welfare of the entire Jewish people.
Second Dvar Torah:
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם בֶּן־מֵאָה֩ וְעֶשְׂרִ֨ים שָׁנָ֤ה אָנֹכִי֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃
Artscroll: He said to them I am one hundred and twenty years old today, I can no longer go out and come in,, for Hashem has said to me, ‘you shall not cross this Jordan’.
Sefaria: He said to them:
I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer bLit. “come and go.”be active.-b Moreover, the LORD has said to me, “You shall not go across yonder Jordan.”
Artscroll translates it like Rashi and the Sefaria translates the pasuk like the other Rishonim.
The Reshonim work to explain this Pasuk. The issue is that If you notice, first the Pasuk says I am 120 years old and (therefore) I am no longer able to go and come, seemingly because I am old. Then the Torah adds another reason why I can no longer lead you and why I will die, because God told me that I will not cross the Jordan.
Rashi on Verse 31:2
לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא. יָכוֹל שֶׁתָּשַׁשׁ כֹּחוֹ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר “לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלא נָס לֵחֹה”, אֶלָּא מַהוּ לא אוכל? אֵינִי רַשַּׁאי, שֶׁנִּטְּלָה מִמֶּנִּי הָרְשׁוּת וְנִתְּנָה לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ. דָּ”אַ — לצאת ולבוא. בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁנִּסְתְּמוּ מִמֶּנּוּ
מָסוֹרוֹת וּמַעְיְנוֹת הַחָכְמָה (סוטה י”ג):
I CAN NO LONGER GO OUT AND COME IN — One might think that this was because his physical strength failed him! Scripture, however, states (Deuteronomy 34:7) “His eye was not dim nor his natural force abated!” What then is the meaning of לא אוכל? It means: “I am not permitted” (cf. Rashi on Deuteronomy 12:17 and Deuteronomy 24:4), because the power (leadership) is being taken from me and given to Joshua. — Another explanation of לצאת ולבוא is: I can no more take the lead in the matter of the Law; this teaches us that the traditions and the well-springs of wisdom were stopped up for him (cf. Sotah 13b).
וה’ אמר אלי. זֶהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא — לְפִי שֶׁה’ אמר אלי:
וה’ אמר אלי — This (according to the previous comment) is the explanation of לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא: I can no more go out and come in because (ו = because) the Lord has said unto Me, [Thou shalt not pass over this Jordan].
Rashi on Verse 31:2 explains that לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא is the effect and the cause is וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃, which is the cause. It is one statement, I cannot come and go because God is not letting me cross the Jordan.
Normally when you write you would write the cause first, God said to me that I cannot cross the Jordan, thereforeI am not able to come and go.
The driving issue for Rashi is verse 34:7 says וּמֹשֶׁ֗ה בֶּן־מֵאָ֧ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֛ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּמֹת֑וֹ לֹא־כָהֲתָ֥ה עֵינ֖וֹ וְלֹא־נָ֥ס לֵחֹֽה׃ “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.” Moshe at the end of his life was full of life as before, he did not age. As a result of this Pasuk Rashi says that the reason why “he is not able” is because God said to him, you will not cross the Jordan River, per below.
As a result of the way the Torah is written the Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and The Daas Zekanim say that these are two different reasons. 1) I cannot go and come because I am 120 years old; and
2) God is not letting me cross the Jordan.
The Ramban has a twist on the first reason as follows:
Ramban – Verse 31:2 tells us the Moshe gave the Jews two reasons why he could not continue to be their leader.
Reason #1 – לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא –
Ramban – Moshe was still strong and vibrant, he only said he was old to comfort the Jews on his death to tell them he is old.
Reason #2 – God is not allowing me to continue as leader. He is not letting me cross the Jordan.
ויאמר אלהם בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום וזה לנחם אותם על ענינו כלומר אני זקן ואין לכם עוד תועלת ממני ועוד כי השם צוני שלא אעבור שם ואל תפחדו ואל תיראו כי ה’ יעבור עמכם לא יסלק שכינתו מכם בעבורי ויהושע הוא העובר לפניכם במקומי ואע”פ שמשה רבינו היה בתקפו ובבריאותו כאשר העיד הכתוב (דברים ל״ד:ז׳) לא כהתה עינו ולא נס לחה אמר להם כן לנחמם ורש”י כתב (רש”י על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא לפי שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן ואינו נכון ועל דעת ר”א (אבן עזרא על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לצאת ולבוא למלחמה כי חלשו כחותיו בזקנותו וגם זה איננו נכון ורבותינו אמרו (סוטה יג) מלמד שנסתתמו ממנו מעיינות חכמה והיה זה במעשה נס שלא ידאג לתת גדולה ליהושע בפניו:
AND HE SAID UNTO THEM: ‘I AM A HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD THIS DAY.’ This was to comfort them concerning his condition [i.e., about his approaching death], as if to say, “I am old and you have no more benefit from me. Moreover, G-d has commanded me that I should not go over there. Do not dread and do not be fearful, for the Eternal will go over with you; He will not remove His Presence from you on my account [i.e., because of my absence], and Joshua, he shall go before you in my place.
Further, Verse 3. you in my place.” Now, although Moses our teacher retained his vigor and health, as Scripture testifies, his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated,4Ibid., 34:7. he told them this [“I am old and you have no more benefit of me”] in order to comfort them [over the transfer of leadership to Joshua].
Now, Rashi wrote: “I can no longer go out and go in, because the Eternal hath said unto me: Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” But it is not correct.5The text reads: ‘Vashem’ (‘and’ the Eternal) said unto me. Now, Rashi explains that the connective vav, which generally means “and,” signifies “because.” It is this interpretation which Ramban considers incorrect because vav always means “and,” not “because.” Mizrachi, too, raised this objection to Rashi and left it unanswered. See, however, in Ma’aravi where a different version of Rashi’s text is cited, in which the connective vav has its usual meaning. And in the opinion of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra the expression I can no longer go out and come in means to war, because his powers weakened in his old age. This too, is not correct.6For Scripture testifies: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated (further, 34:7). And our Rabbis have said:7Sotah 13b. “This teaches us that the well-springs of wisdom were stopped for him.” This was a miraculous event in order that Moses should not be troubled [about the transfer of leadership to Joshua] and [G-d] bestowing honor upon Joshua in his [Moses’] presence.8See further, Verse 14.
Daas Zekanim – I am old
בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא. כי זקנתי ועוד כי ה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן וגו’. ואתם אין לכם הפסד בדבר כי ה’ אלהיך הוא עובר לפניך ואין לכם כמוהו. ד”א לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא ולא משום חלישות אלא משום שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור וגו’:
Ibn Ezra – I can no longer go out to war
לצאת ולבוא. במלחמה והטעם כי אילו לא הייתי מת עתה אין בי יכולת להלחם ואין לכם צורך למי שיעזור אתכם כי השם ישמיד הגוים גם יהושע והעד מה שראיתם בעיניכם במלחמת סיחון ועוג:
Reason #2 according to everyone – וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃ – God told me that I cannot cross the Jordan, meaning that I will die now, today.
Rashi learned that it is one reason because later on it said that at 120 Moshe was still a vibrant person. The Ramban agrees with Rashi but says that Moshe said I am aged to give them comfort on his upcoming death. It was true that Moshe is old. How do you explain that later verse according to The Daas Zekanim and Ibn Ezra. I think that while Moshe is still vibrant, he could not continue as a leader. Leadership would take too much out of him and he can not do it any more.
יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ ה֣וּא ׀ עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֗יךָ הֽוּא־יַשְׁמִ֞יד אֶת־הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָאֵ֛לֶּה מִלְּפָנֶ֖יךָ וִירִשְׁתָּ֑ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ ה֚וּא עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֔יךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָֽה׃
The LORD your God Himself will cross over before you; and He Himself will wipe out those nations from your path and you shall dispossess them.—Joshua is the one who shall cross before you, as the LORD has spoken.—