Parshat Zot HaBracha
And this is the blessing that Moshe, the man of G-d, blessed the Children of Israel before his death... (Devarim 33:1).
Like Ya'akov before him, Moshe blessed the tribes just before his death. There is nothing unusual about this statement, at least not on the surface. The Sifra, picking up on the emphasis on the nearness of Moshe's death, learns that Moshe said, "If not now, then when?" However, the Pri Tzaddik (Simchas Torah 48) asks about a different segment of the posuk: Why is Moshe called "man of G-d" specifically here, when blessing the tribes?
To answer this question, the Pri Tzaddik explains that Moshe began blessing the tribes from where Ya'akov left off blessing them. How do we know this? Because it says, "And this (v'zos
) is the blessing" which adds to the first blessing that Ya'akov gave them because it says, "And this (v'zos
) is what Ya'akov their father told them" (Bereishis 49:28). The word v'zos
connects the two verses together.
However, says the Pri Tzaddik, we learn from the Zohar that the word "zos" alludes to a special trait necessary for spiritual perfection, to indicate that Ya'akov had to first bring his sons to do teshuvah before he could give them the blessing he wanted to impart to all of them. After those lacking in teshuvah did the necessary teshuvah, then they too became worthy of receiving the blessing.
This, too, is why Moshe is called "man of G-d" here. Moshe, by his very presence, inspired teshuvah in all those who saw him, especially at such a sad time as the arrival of the day of his death. He was able to draw out the millions of Jews surrounding him teshuvah from the depths of their souls, making them ready to receive his blessing. His godliness raised the nation to a new spiritual height in preparation to move on to the next level in life.
To Binyomin he said, "The beloved of Hashem shall dwell in safety by Him; He shall harbor him all day long (chofef alav kol hayom), and He shall dwell between his shoulders." (Devarim 33:12)
Rebi Levi bar Chama said in the name of Rebi Chama b'Rebi Chanina: A strip of land jetted out from the territory of Yehudah and went into the section of Binyomin, and the righteous Binyomin was constantly bothered about it and wanted to possess it, as it says, "chofef alav kol hayom." For this reason, Binyomin merited to be the host to The Holy One, Blessed is He, as it says, "He shall dwell between his shoulders." (Zevachim 53b)
When the land of Israel was divided among the Shevatim (tribes), the territories of Yehudah and Binyomin ended up converging by the location of the altar in the future altar. As a result, the south-eastern portion of the altar was in the territory of Yehudah, and the north-western part of the Temple was in the land of Binyomin. However, it was only around these two sides that a base of about two feet wide wrapped around the altar, called the Yesod, a merit that Binyomin earned because of his intense desire to be a host to the Divine Presence.
It is one's intense desire to create a place within which G-d can dwell that makes one a "beloved of Hashem." And becoming a beloved of Hashem is supposed to be the goal of every Jew, and in this way one merits to become a personal Mishkan to Hashem, as it says:
"Let them make Me a sanctuary, so I can dwell among them ..." (Shemos 25:8)
It doesn't say "dwell within it," but "among them," indicating that it is within every Jew that G-d chooses to dwell, if the person makes himself a fitting place for G-d.
Moshe was 120 years old when he died. His eyes had not weakened, nor had his strength dissipated. The Children of Israel cried for Moshe in the plains of Moav for thirty days, after which the days of crying and mourningfor Moshe were completed. Yehoshua, the son of Nun was instilled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe had placed his hands upon him. The children of Israel listened to and obeyed him, and did as G-d had commanded Moshe. There never again arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe, whom G-d spoke to face-to-face, [and who could perform] all the signs and wonders which G-d sent him to do in the land of Egypt, against Paroah, 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 34:7-12)
Everything about Moshe Rabbeinu indicated a special relationship with the Ohr HaGanuz-the Hidden Light of Creation. As the Talmud points out (Chagigah 12a), this light was not a normal light, a natural light, but an extremely spiritual light--a very powerful light. So powerful was this light, in fact, says Rashi, that G-d actually hid it in the early days of creation, to keep it out of the hands of the evil people of history!
However, Moshe, according to the "Tradition," always had access to this light, which is why he was born thirty-six years after the slavery began--a number associated with this light (it shone for 36 hours in the Garden of Eden before being hidden). Furthermore, it says:
It is written here, "... And she saw that he was good ..." (Shemos 2:2) and there it is written [regarding the Hidden Light], "G-d saw the light, that it was good" (Bereishis 1:4). (Sotah 12a)
The Talmud seems to equate Moshe and the Light itself.
Why did Moshe have such access to this incredible light? Because, kabbalistically-speaking, Moshe had a very high level soul, which was actually "carved" from the Ohr HaGanuz itself. Therefore, the Torah was given through him, and all chidushei Torah (Torah novellae) that would ever be revealed throughout time was already known by to Moshe before his death. He was an extraordinary individual and leader, which is why it says,
Happy is the nation whose portion (shekachah) is Him ... (lo) (Tehillim 144:15)
The numerical value of the word "shekachah" (shin, choh, chof, heh) is equal to 345, the same gematria as Moshe. The word "lo" is equal to 36, an allusion to the Ohr HaGanuz-the Hidden Light. It is as Dovid HaMelech wrote: Happy is the nation whose Moshe is equated with the Hidden Light of Creation, whose leader was on the level of the Tree of Life, and who was the "channel" to the Worlds Above. This is why when he died, he went right to Gan Aiden (Temurah 16b).
Therefore, it is not surprising to hear that the place of his burial is not known to man, "even to this very day." For Moshe, the "Man of G-d," was also a man of another realm altogether, which makes the Torah he gave to us that much more special.
(Author, lecturer, and scholar Rabbi Pinchas Winston is the director of ThirtySix.org