Shmuel, Moshe and Aharon

Vayishlach Hashem es Yeruba’al v’es B’dan v’es Yiftach v’es Shmuel (Haftarah)

The haftarah for Parashas Korach contains a lengthy rebuke given by Shmuel to the Jewish people in response to their request that he appoint a king to rule over them. His message of reproof included a review of Jewish history, in which he demonstrated to the people that Hashem had always sent them trustworthy and reliable leaders to save them from the hands of their enemies. Specifically, Shmuel mentioned that Hashem had sent Gidon, Shimshon, Yiftach and Shmuel to lead them and rescue them.

However, while this verse can be taken at face value as a list of four Jewish leaders, the Radak points out that one of the four people mentioned is the one who was speaking, Shmuel, in which case it is difficult to understand why he speaks about himself in the third person. Seemingly, the verse should say, “Hashem sent Gidon, Shimshon, Yiftach and me.”

Harav Yitzchak Sorotzkin, shlita, points out that most other prophets do speak in the first person, such as Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu repeatedly saying, “The word of Hashem came to me.” However, there is one exception: Moshe wrote the Torah in the third person, saying, “Hashem spoke to Moshe.”

The Vilna Gaon explains that this is because other prophets received their prophecies from Hashem and later went to share the message with the Jewish people, after they had already stopped receiving prophecy. In contrast, the Zohar Hakadosh teaches that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) spoke directly out of Moshe’s mouth, so it was Hashem relating the message to the Jewish people, not Moshe, and the Shechinah therefore spoke about Moshe in the third person. Similarly, he explains that when Aharon said Hashem’s Ineffable Name on Yom Kippur, it also came out via the Divine Presence speaking it.

The Vilna Gaon suggests that this distinction explains why in this week’s haftarah, Shmuel didn’t say v’osi in the first-person, as he wasn’t the one talking. Rather, the Shechinah was speaking out of his mouth, as the Radak writes that with the exception of Moshe, Shmuel was on a higher level than all the other prophets and in this episode was able to reach the level of prophecy in which the Shechinah spoke directly out of his mouth, which explains why Hashem spoke about him in the third person.

Based on this explanation, the Vilna Gaon explains the verse in Tehillim (99:6), “Moshe v’Aharon b’chohanav u’Shemuel b’korei shemo” — Moshe and Aharon were among His priests, and Shmuel among those who invoke His Name — where Dovid Hamelech seems to group Moshe, Aharon and Shmuel together to say that they were equal. In what way were they equal, and what did they have in common? Each of them merited the phenomenon of the Shechinah speaking directly from their throats: Moshe whenever he gave over his prophecies, Aharon when he served as Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur and Shmuel when he was “korei shemo” — when he said his name in this verse.

As far as why the Divine Presence specifically spoke from Shmuel’s mouth in this situation, the Mussar HaNevi’im explains that this is the longest and most detailed rebuke that Shmuel gave the people in response to their demand for a king. One might be tempted to think that his resistance was due to personal feelings of hurt that they rejected him and his sons as leaders and insisted on a new king to lead them. In order to make it clear that this wasn’t the case and his disapproval was based solely on spiritual considerations, the Shechinah itself delivered this message from his mouth so that it would be clear that it wasn’t coming from Shmuel, but from Hashem.

Parashah Q & A

Q: A simple reading of Korach’s arguments (16:3) makes them seem logical and reasonable. Where did Chazal see it alluded to that his true intentions were for the sake of his personal honor and glory?

Q: The Gemara in Yoma (75a) teaches that the manna fell at the doorsteps of the righteous, far away from the tents of the wicked, and somewhere in-between for the average. Why wasn’t Moshe able to answer Korach’s argument that he was as righteous as Moshe and Aharon by publicly pointing out that Korach’s manna fell far from his tent, revealing his true wicked core?

A: The Manchester Rosh Yeshivah explains that if Korach’s motivation was truly for the sake of Heaven as he pretended, he wouldn’t have selected Dasan and Aviram, who were known for their history of fighting, as his assistants in the rebellion. From the fact that he chose to associate with such wicked individuals, Chazal understood that his intentions weren’t what they seemed.

A: The Shevet Mussar cites a Midrash which teaches that fighting and discord is such a severe sin that on the day of Korach’s rebellion the manna didn’t fall, whereas on the day of the sin of the golden calf, which was presumably a greater sin, the manna did fall because there was peace and unity among the people. This explains why Moshe was unable to demonstrate Korach’s true spiritual status based on the location of his manna. As far as what the people ate on that day, Harav Aharon Leib Steinman, shlita, suggests that they had to purchase food from nomadic merchants in the area.


 

Originally from Kansas City, Rabbi Ozer Alport graduated from Harvard, learned in Mir Yerushalayim for five years, and now lives in Brooklyn, where he learns in Yeshivas Beis Yosef, is the author of the recently-published sefer Parashah Potpourri, and gives weekly shiurim. To send comments to the author or to receive his divrei Torah weekly, please email oalport@Hamodia.com.