This week’s Haftorah discusses יפתח who went to war with בני עמון. The Gemara in ראש השנה דף כה ע"ב says יפתח בדורו כשמואל בדורו. The simple understanding of this Gemara is that in spite of the fact that יפתח was not a prophet and was just a warrior (ילקוט שמעוני ספר שופטים סז goes as far as to say he was not even a בן תורה), nonetheless for his generation he was as good as Shmuel. But if this was the understanding, why would the Gemara say כשמואל בדורו, if Shmuel was a great man for every generation? It should have just said כשמואל because Shmuel doesn’t need to be qualified by דורו like יפתח needed to be qualified, because Shmuel is great for every generation?
We see from here that it is not so. Rather, just like a smaller leader is what a lesser generation needs, so too the greater leader is only good for the greater generation. If Shmuel would be in the דור of יפתח, he wouldn’t be effective or able to lead. Every generation needs a leader that is befitting of that generation’s needs and level. As the פרקי דרבי אליעזר says in פרק ו regarding the dispute between the sun and the moon at creation and the subsequent actions by Hashem, מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא, הגדיל את האחד והקטין את האחד. We see from here that just like Hashem punished the moon by making it small, he also punished the sun by making it big because big is not always good.
The Pasuk says ויקח משה את המטה מלפני ה כאשר צוהו (כ,ט). The חזקוני says, based on a דיוק from the words מלפני ה', that Moshe did not take his own מטה rather he took the מטה אהרן. Moshe’s staff was always with him and was not מלפני ה'. However, מלפני ה' has to be referring to the staff in Parshas Korach where all the נשאים had their מטה placed in the משכן and מטה אהרן was the chosen one as it sprouted flowers. Then the Pasuk says ויאמר ה' אל משה השב את מטה אהרן לפני העדות למשמרת. So we see that it was מטה אהרן that was מלפני ה' and it was that מטה that משה was told to take. Why was it necessary for Moshe to use the מטה אהרן as opposed to his own?
The answer could be because there is a fundamental difference between the מטה משה and the מטה אהרן. Moshe’s מטה was a מטה of action and hitting as it was used to hit the יאור. As opposed to the מטה אהרן which was a מטה of beauty (as it sprouted שקדים and flowers) and was a softer מטה. When using the מטה of Ahron, it’s not a מטה of hitting rather a more gentle מטה, of communication and of אוהב שלום ורודף שלום. Moshe was to understand that by being commanded to take the מטה of Ahron, that this situation (as opposed to in Parshas בשלח) required speaking and not hitting.
The leadership of Moshe with the דור המדבר was a leadership that had to do with coercion and force, as the overbearing presence of Moshe was. However, now with the דור הבאי הארץ, it’s more about communication and giving them more independence and leading with אהרן way. This idea is similar to what was explained in the beginning that every generation has its leader and form of leadership that speaks to the people of that generation. Therefore, as a consequence of the חטא מי מריבה, Moshe didn’t enter EY not only as a punishment, but because that harsh type of leadership was not appropriate for the דור הבאי הארץ.
Emphasis on שאיפות
The מגן אברהם in סימן תקפ quotes from the תניא רבתי that on ערב שבת פרשת חקת, there was a מנהג to fast because on that day twenty wagons filled with the Talmud were burned in France. It was established specifically on ערב שבת פרשת חקת as opposed to the day of the month that it occurred because it became known through a שאלת חלום that the Parshah was connected because the Targum on the Pasuk זאת חקת התורה is דא גזירת אורייתא. On some level perhaps we could understand the connection between the שריפת התלמוד and פרשת חקת.
The רמח"ל באגרות נ says being that everything Hashem does is for the good of the Jews, it must be understood what good there was in times where it became impossible for Jews to learn because of the burning of the Talmud. He goes on to explain that by most עבירות, Hashem is not מצרף מחשבה למעשה. However, when it comes to עבודה זרה, Hashem is מצרף מחשבה למעשה. Therefore, not only is a תיקון for the act of עבודה זרה necessary, but for the thought as well. He explains that the תיקון for such מחשבה is when Jews have a desire and longing to learn and be connected to Hashem, but don’t have the ability because it’s inaccessible. Such a desire and שאיפה is the תיקון for the מחשבה of the עבירה of עבודה זרה. With this it could be understood how the שריפת התלמוד was necessary on some level as a תיקון. The שאיפה and רצון which are present but are not actualized due to inaccessibility is a תיקון for when there is a lacking in שאיפות.
Based on this, we could say that פרה אדומה puts the emphasis on שאיפית and a quest that could never be realized as שלמה המלך says in Koheles אמרתי אחכמה והיא רחוקה ממני. Therefore, זאת חקת התורה which is the Parshah ofפרה אדומה is relevant to the גזירה of the שריפת התלמוד. Because just like the פרה אדומה is about a quest that can never be realized, which is about making a connection with Hashem through a quest and a striving and a desire that can’t be realized, that’s אמרתי אחכמה which is רחוקה ממני. Also the שריפת התלמוד which is the inaccessibility of torah is as if Hashem is saying אמרתי אחכמה but its רחוקה ממני because it’s not accessible. It’s the I want but I can’t.
Rashi quotes Reb Moshe Hadarshan that the פרה אדומה is a תיקון for the חטא העגל. What’s the idea that the פרה אדומה is supposed to wipe away the צואה of the עגל (Based on the משל that Reb Moshe Hadarshan brings)?
The real issue by the חטא העגל was the כי זה משה האיש אשר העלנו מארץ מצרים לא ידענו מה היה לו. This that they said משה האיש was because at this point, the Jewish people lost faith in human leadership and they wanted an angelic leadership. The down side of human leadership is that it’s unreliable, and unknown, as they though he was coming back but he didn’t. Such doubt is very difficult to deal with. But that difficulty is part of our ongoing progression. Being able to deal with uncertainty and doubt is the same idea as אמרתי אחכמה והיא רחוקה ממני. An unrealized goal, like Moshe not coming down from the mountain and the goal not being realized, and yet we keep on striving towards the goal even when it’s not realized. Therefore, פרה אדומה which instills in us the understanding that even if its רחוקה ממנו, we still shouldn’t give up on the אמרתי אחכמה, that’s the תיקון for the חטא העגל where the לא ידענו knocks us out. Now we understand that the לא ידענו should not knock us out, but we should continue trying to know even when we don’t know.
The Rav said a vort in the name of his father as follows.
We know that Ahron dies in the Parshah, but why did Ahron have to die at the time that he did?
Rashi says on the Pasuk על גבול ארץ אדום (כ,כג) that שמפני שנתחברו כאן להתקרב לעשו הרשע, נפרצו מעשיהם וחסרו הצדיק הזה. What’s the connection? Ahron was the אוהב שלום ורודף שלום אוהב את הבריות ומקרבן לתורה and he brought that מדה into כלל ישראל. However, that מדה, along with all other מידות, has boundaries and needs to be in moderation. When they were getting closed to עשו, they overstepped the boundaries of אוהב את הבריות therefore it was חסרו הצדיק הזה.
שמעו נא המרים
By the hitting of the rock, Moshe says to the people שמעו נא המרים. Rashi explains לשון יוני שוטים, מורים את מוריהם. Why is someone who is מורים את מוריהם called a שוטה?
The Mishna in Avos says איזהו חכם? הלומד מכל אדם. There are different levels of wisdom. A wise person learns from everyone, while a less wise person only learns from his rebbe, and an even less wise person learns from no one and a fool tries to teach his teacher. Not only does he think he doesn’t need to learn from anyone, he thinks he should actually be teaching those who are teaching him. The polar opposite of the חכם is the person that can’t learn even from his rebbe because he thinks he is smarter than everybody. Therefore, the מורים את מוריהם are the ultimate שוטים because they are the total opposite of the חכם, being that they don’t want to learn from anybody, even there rebbe.
Why is it לשון יוני? רבינו יונה on that Mishnah says that חכם is הלומד מכל אדם because the Greeks say that “philo sophy” means a love of חכמה. What defines a חכם is not how much he knows but how much he wants to know. Therefore, he is a חכם even if he doesn’t know that much because he learns from everyone and is always searching for knowledge. That’s why the Greeks call the מורים את מוריהם שוטים because it’s the opposite of חכמה and הלומד מכל אדם.