Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Pinchas) Longing For!

As Moshe’s leadership of the Jewish nation was coming to a close, he concerned himself with securing a replacement for himself asking G-d to appoint a competent and compassionate leader.

Moshe asked G-d if maybe one of his sons could fill the job. G-d responded that he had someone else in mind, Moshe’s devoted student Yehoshua. At the installation of Yehoshua, G-d instructed Moshe to lay one hand upon Yehoshua and bestow on him some of his spiritual energy.

The Torah relates that Moshe went beyond what G-d expected from him. Moshe laid both his hands on Yehoshua imparting a vast amount of spiritual energy upon him. Moshe did this in order to ensure a seamless and strong continuity for the Jewish people.

The Talmud teaches us that at the point of the change of leadership, the elders of the generation commented, “Moshe is compared to the sun, while Yehoshua is likened to the moon.”

A simple understanding of this impression is that there was a blatant difference between Moshe and Yehoshua. Moshe, who spent 120 days in Heaven, descended the Mountain with the two sets of Ten Commandments and spoke with G-d on a regular basis, was compared to the sun which has its own illumination, while Yehoshua who was Moshe’s student is compared to the moon which receives its illumination from the sun.

Another angle of understanding this statement is offered by Rabbi Zalman Sorozkin o.b.m. Moshe the consummate leader, worried about the future and beseeched G-d to appoint a leader in his stead. The sun not only illuminates the day – when it is present – but also illuminates the night – when it is not present – through illuminating the moon.

Moshe is compared to the sun since he led and cared about the nation both when he was alive and also when he was gone by providing a leader and teacher for the nation.

Rabbi Sorotzkin points out that before Yehoshua passed away he did not ask G-d to appoint a specific leader for the Jews as Moshe did. Yehoshua felt that the leadership of the nation should be handed over to a group of Zekainim - elders. Yehoshua is compared to the moon for he did not cast his illumination upon a single talented leader which would have been a better option.

When Yehoshua led the nation into the Land of Israel, he composed the second blessing of Birchas Hamazon – the blessings which we recite after a meal at which bread is eaten.

In this blessing it refers to the land of Israel as Chemdah - ‘The land that is desirous and good.” The Land of Israel is called “desirous,” since it is a gift from G-d and by our very nature we have an inner desire to connect with the Land.

There are two other Mitzvos that are referred to as Chemdah – desirous in the positive sense of the word – they are Shabbat and Torah. In the Shabbos morning Amidah prayers, we recite, “Chemdas Yamim,” – G-d called Shabbos the most desirous day of all days of the week and He entrusted us to observe it.

Our holy Torah which we accepted and received from G-d is also referred to as a Chemdah Genuzah – a desirous treasure.

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr quotes the Talmud which states, “Three things are acquired with effort and extra energies, ‘Torah, the Land of Israel and the World to Come.”

The World to Come is connected to the Shabbat, since the serenity and aura of Shabbos is a touch of the World to Come. These three “desirous” Mitzvos require extra effort and exertion because of their importance, meaning and significance.

The nations of the world are contentious about these three Mitzvos. Our Shabbat was taken and observed on different days, either Friday or Sunday. Our holy priceless Torah has been taken by them in the guise of a new testament; and do I have to explain the struggle they have with us over our beloved Land of Israel… - May Hashem shine peace upon us!

Shabbat is when G-d sanctified time, the Land of Israel is where G-d sanctified a place, and the Torah that we study and observe, sanctifies our mind, actions, bodies and souls. The more we show our appreciation for these special “desirous” gifts the more we will be able to offset the opposing forces whose desire is to destroy us, our land and our Holy Torah.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family