The Ultimate Handoff

July 9, 2021
Tamuz 29, 5781
Candlelighting Time 8:11 PM

            Rabbeinu Bachya on the last verse of sefer Bamidbar compares this verse with the last verse in the previous sefer Vayikra. He notes that the Torah there mentions that these are the mitzvos that Hashem commanded Moshe whereas here the verse concludes that these are the mitzvos that were in the ‘hand’ of Moshe. In almost cryptic fashion he explains that the original covenant that Hashem made with us at Mt. Sinai was violated when we fashioned the Golden Calf. That fiasco destroyed that relationship that we had forged when we received the Torah. A new pact was established with Hashem on the plains of Moav that would be everlasting. Therefore, the mitzvos of this sefer are securely in the ‘hands’ of Moshe. It would seem that this terminology is a metaphor that depicts a resolute and staunch connection between us and Hashem. This was perhaps especially necessary because we were leaving the comfortable zone of the desert where our every need was attended to by Hashem. However, as we prepared to enter into the Land of Israel, the situation would resemble a more ‘hands-on’ approach. There we would have to till the ground, harvest the crops and live on our own recognition. The inevitability to have a more conventional lifestyle was upon us.

            Netziv adds a nugget which adds quite a perspective to the above comment of Rabbeinu Bacha. He explains that the phrase in the ‘hands’ of Moshe implies that even some original insights that Moshe advanced were included in the transmission of Torah to all future generations. And this is very significant to understand because after Moshe would leave the nation although they would have many exceptional Torah scholars in their ranks, nonetheless, the final word and source would be absent. There would be a necessity for interpretation to forge ahead and lead the nation. Therefore, Moshe endowed as an enduring legacy the capacity to adapt and realize the Torah in upcoming scenarios that were unknown to them as this juncture.

            Meshech Chochma offers another penetrating insight into the unique eminence and exceptional quality of Moshe. Although at Mt. Sinai our Sages teach us that the entire nation ‘heard’ Hashem speak to Moshe, however, when Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Mishkan only he heard the voice of Hashem. That is what is meant that these were the laws that were in the hand of Moshe. Just like a hand encloses what it is grasping and it is not visible to others, so too, Moshe’s prophetic connection with Hashem was only known to him. This was the magnitude of imminence that Moshe merited. The role model that Moshe served during his tenure as the leader of the nation spurred the nation to great heights and left an indelible impression upon his generation.

            Perhaps this is what Rabbeinu Bachya means when he concludes his explanation to this sefer stating that the covenant that was established now was eternal and would never be abrogated. The people now recognized the tremendous spiritual heights that one can achieve upon struggling to overcome one’s inadequacies. Therefore, with this awareness in mind, they accepted the second pact with Hashem creating a bond that was impermeable and unwavering asserted.  

                                                A BYTE FOR SHABBOS

Rashi explains that the tool of a Jew is his speech. Just as a craftsman can only ply his trade with his tools, so too, one can only excel in his relationship with Hashem using his tool, his speech in the correct and effective manner. We should concentrate upon using our power of speech to learn Torah and daven to Hashem.