Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Eikev) 120 Days in Heaven!
At the end of his life Moshe recounted what occurred following G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai. He related that he remained on top of the mountain in the heavenly spheres for forty days and forty nights, studying the Torah from G-d and preparing to descend with the stones that contained the Ten Commandments. Moshe added, “During this time, I did not eat bread nor drink water.”
Further on Moshe related that after the sin of the golden calf he spent another forty days and forty nights in heaven pleading for G-d’s forgiveness and mercy on behalf of the Jewish nation. He again states, “During this time, I did not eat bread nor drink water.”
Finally, when Moshe ascended the Heavens in order to present the second set of Tablets to the nation, he remained in Heaven for forty days and forty nights, and again he existed without bread and water.
Apparently, if Moshe stated that he did not eat or drink, that means he refrained from eating. What type of food or drink is there in Heaven?
On the second day of creation, the Torah relates that G-d formed the heavens, and called it Shomayim. One of Rashi’s explanations is that the word Shomayim is a contraction of two words, Sham Mayim – over there, there is water!
In regards to the availability of bread in Heaven, we know that while the Jews were in the desert they were fed Manna that fell from Heaven. Thus, it is indeed possible that Moshe had access to bread (Manna) and water, yet refrained from eating and drinking. The question is, why?
The Medrash relates that we learn from the fact that Moshe refrained from eating and drinking while in Heaven, that a person should not stray from the custom practiced in the place where he is, just as Moshe followed the habits of the angels, who do not eat.
Similarly, when three angels visited our forefather Avraham after his circumcision, the Torah tells us that they ate when Avraham served them food. The angels ate and did not stray from the local custom.
Rabbi Menchem Ziemba o.b.m. asks an interesting question. We can understand when the angels visited earth they adapted to the custom of eating, since there were no risks involved. However, when Moshe was in Heaven and he adapted to the custom of not eating, he put his life at risk, for the Talmud rules that one who vows not to eat for seven days straight, is not bound by his vow since it is impossible to survive for that long without food.
Nowhere do we find that one must place his life at risk for a custom. What was Moshe’s consideration?
Apparently, when G-d summoned Moshe to the Heavens as a living being, He transformed Moshe with angelic properties and he did not require physical sustenance, thus Moshe certainly did not place himself in danger by not eating.
The Medrash tells us that during the forty days and nights that Moshe was in Heaven totally immersed in the study of Torah, he actually satiated himself with the study of Torah which our Scriptures compare to bread and water.
The Sfas Emes quotes a Medrash that asks: How did Moshe go without sleep for all the time he spent in Heaven? The Medrash answers with an example of one who was treated to the treasury of the king. Although his body indicates and suggests that he is tired, he cannot bring himself to sleep due to the excitement and amusement of the riches. The same applied to Moshe. While Moshe was studying the gems, brilliance, holiness and genius of the Written and Oral Torah, this all encompassing excitement did not permit him to sleep.
Asks the Sfas Emes, how about the other forty days and nights when Moshe was not immersed in the study of Torah, rather, he was praying on behalf of the Jews for the sin of the golden calf. What prevented him from sleeping then?
Says the Sfas Emes, just as Moshe couldn’t sleep due to the joy that he had studying the Torah, so too, Moshe couldn’t bring himself to sleep during these forty day and nights because he was filled with worry and concern because the Jewish nation’s fate was on the line.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks