There never again arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe . . . (Devarim 34:10)
Like Parashas Bereishis, the first parshah and arguably one of the most important of the entire Torah, Parashas Zos HaBrochah, the very last parshah of the entire Torah, always seems to get short shrift. It is read on Simchas Torah which steals the show. This is after a week of Succos during which the priorities are the proper fulfillment of the mitzvah of lulav and esrog, and enjoying life in the Succah.
It is so ridiculous that it almost seems like a conspiracy. Is there something important embedded in these parshios that we’re not supposed to know that we’re made to just about skip over them? Are there secrets buried in these parshios that we keep missing each year because we are not given sufficient time to search for them?
After all, it is only the parshah in which we lose Moshe Rabbeinu. Aside from being the greatest prophet to ever live, he was also the greatest leader the world has ever known. True, he was in direct contact with the Creator of everything, which is bound to make one unusually good at the job. But equally true is the fact that the job was unusually difficult, requiring Moshe Rabbeinu to be incredibly and constantly self-sacrificing to make sure that not only his generation received the Torah, but all generations up until the arrival of Moshiach.
The Talmud states and Kabbalah explains that even to this very day all Torah that comes to any individual comes through Moshe Rabbeinu:
The soul of Moshe Rabbeinu is always the conduit for all wisdom and knowledge since the Torah was given through him. (Drushei Olam HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 2, Siman 1, Os 4)
His role as a spiritual “pipeline” between Heaven and earth remains active even today, and it will be reprised by Moshe himself in the Messianic Era. The only difference, the Arizal explains in Sha’ar HaGilgulim, is:
In the end of days in the generation of Moshiach, Moshe will return to teach Torah to the Jewish people and will still be of uncircumcised lips. However, Eliyahu, who will “chai,” will be his interpreter, and this is the sod of the verse, “Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon HaKohen” (Bamidbar 25:11). (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 36)
The truth is, explains the Zohar, Moshe Rabbeinu actually reincarnates into every generation. According to the Zohar, this is to give Moshe the opportunity to right a wrong of his, that being the premature redemption of the Erev Rav, or Mixed Multitude. Even though there had been a Kabbalistic basis to assume that they had also been ready to leave Egypt with the Jewish people at the time of the exodus, in the end they would have been better off left behind.
It certainly would have been better for Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people had the Erev Rav been left to die in Egypt and reincarnate once again. Free of the Erev Rav the Jewish nation would not have made a golden calf, and more than likely would not have rejected the Land of Israel. In other words, free of the Erev Rav Moshe Rabbeinu would have led us across the Jordan river himself and ushered in the Messianic Era.
Obviously that is not the way history went, evident by the fact that we are still in exile and waiting for the Final Redemption. Therefore, explained the Arizal, Moshe Rabbeinu, or at least his soul, comes back in every generation, albeit not in a form that was can recognize. This is to facilitate the redemption that he postponed by advancing the redemption of the Erev Rav:
However, in the future, it says, “What was, will be” (Koheles 1:9), which has the roshei teivos ofMoshe, because he was the first redeemer and he will be the last redeemer. (Hakdamos u’Sha’arim, Sha’ar 6, Perek 11)
A question to ask, perhaps, is why did Moshe Rabbeinu have to die at all? Some lesser greater people transitioned from this world to the next one without even dying. It is far from being a common occurrence, but then again, Moshe was far from being a common person. He was from those rare few whose bodies became so spiritually purified through life that they did not need to undergo rectification through death. Perhaps, then, Moshe Rabbeinu did not die. First of all, at his death he had been able to achieve the most extraordinary accomplishment. As the Talmud states:
The “Fifty Gates of Understanding” represent 50 spiritual channels, if you will, through which the Divine light of understanding makes its way from the upper realm to the lower realms. The gates themselves are the basis of all of Torah, and just achieving a few of the “gates” would make one a wise person. Receiving 49 of the 50 gates is beyond our present level of comprehension, but suffice it to say that it would, and did, make Moshe Rabbeinu other-worldly:
Rebi Noson says: The intention of the Torah was that [Moshe] might be purged of all food and drink in his bowels so as to make him equal to the ministering angels. (Yoma 4b)
The so-called burial place of Moshe Rabbeinu itself bears witness to an even greater accomplishment. The Torah tells us where Moshe Rabbeinu was buried:
And Moshe went up from the plains of Moav to Mount Nevo, [to the] top of the summit facing Jericho.(Devarim 34:1)
Was “Nevo” merely the name of the mountain? Apparently it tells us more than the physical location of Moshe Rabbeinu’s burial:
Before his death he merited the 50th gate [of understanding], as it says, “To Mt. Nevo” (Devarim34:1): Nun Bo; the Nun entered his name and it became Neshamah. (Kehillas Ya’akov)
In other words, the letter Nun, which represents the number 50 and the level of Divine light associated with it, became a part of Moshe’s name, which is spelled Moshe-Shin-Heh. With the addition of the letter Nun from the Nun Sha’arei Binah—the Fifty Gates of Understanding—the word can spell”Neshamah,” the third highest level of soul that we can access at this time.
Thus, on Har Nevo, Moshe finally received the 50th gate of understanding. Nevo is spelled Nun-Bais-Vav, which can be read, Nun-bo, which means, “on it, 50,” that is, on the mountain of “Nevo” Moshe Rabbeinu received the 50th gate of understanding. This was probably the result of dying by “Divine kiss,” and he reached the level of Neshamah and complete self-rectification. So the question remains, why did he have to die?
The Torah says, somewhat mysteriously:
And Moshe, the servant of God, died there, in the land of Moav, by the mouth of God. And He buried him in the valley, in the land of Moav, opposite Bais Pe’or. And no person knows the place of his burial unto this day. (Devarim 34:5-6)
regarding which The Talmud explains as follows:
Rebi Berechyah said: Although [the Torah provides] a clue within a clue, nevertheless no man knows [Moshe’s] place of burial. The wicked [Roman] Government once sent to the governor, “Show us where Moshe is buried.” When they stood above, it appeared to them to be below; when they were below, it appeared to them to be above. They divided themselves into two parties, but to those who were standing above it appeared below, and to those who were below it appeared above. (Sotah 13b)
How’s that for a magic trick? Perhaps it is not magic at all. Perhaps this is what happens to people who try to see into the spiritual realm with physical eyes, like those who scour the brain in search of human consciousness, or try to understand the spiritual origin of Creation through a physical telescope. To look for remains of Moshe Rabbeinu in the physical world and with physical means is going to meet with the same level of success: zero.
As Kabbalah explains, Moshe Rabbeinu was born with the Ohr HaGanuz, the original light of Creation. As Rashi explains, God promptly hid this supernal light on the first day of Creation to keep it out of the reach of the evil people of history. Moshe lived his entire life by this light, which is why it was so miraculous, as the Torah testifies:
There never again arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe, whom God spoke to face-to-face, [and who could perform] all the signs and wonders which God sent him to do in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land, or any of the mighty acts and awesome sights that Moshe displayed before all the eyes of Israel. (Devarim 34:10-12)
The Leshem adds to this that the Ohr HaGanuz had a very interesting property:
And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated between the light and between the darkness.(Bereishis 1:4)
God made a separation in the illumination of the light, that it should not flow or give off light except for the righteous, whose actions draw it down and make it shine. However, the actions of the evil block it, leaving them in darkness, and this itself was the hiding of the light. (Sefer HaKlallim, Klal 18, Anaf 8, Os 4)
Perhaps, then, this is why they could not find the burial place of Moshe Rabbeinu. They were looking for a source of the Ohr HaGanuz, and their merits did not permit them to see it.
Perhaps also this is the secret of the parshah. After having become elevated through the Aseres Yemai Teshuvah—the Ten Days of Repentance—and after concretizing our spiritual growth through themitzvos of Succos, we are invited to enter an entirely different level of existence than the rest of the world. It is the realm of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, the realm of the number eight, of the supernatural, during which the soul of a Jew can become one with Torah and its Divine light, the Ohr HaGanuz.
It is also the level of the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu, a height from which one can know with certainty that Moshe Rabbeinu never died, certainly not in conventional terms. He simply moved on to the next generation to continue on with his mission of redeeming the Jewish people once and for all. On such a level it would be trivial to become involved with the death of the Moshe when, instead, we should celebrate and share in his eternal life.
Copyright © by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Winston has authored many books on Jewish philosophy (Hashkofa). If you enjoy Rabbi Winston’s Perceptions on the Parsha, you may enjoy his books. Visit Rabbi Winston’s online book store for more details! www.thirtysix.org