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Did Moses Forget?

Did Moses Forget?

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Publicado porMichael Pitkowsky
There are four times in the Torah that it seems that Moses wasn't able to answer a question. The rabbis disagreed whether Moses really didn't know the answer.
There are four times in the Torah that it seems that Moses wasn't able to answer a question. The rabbis disagreed whether Moses really didn't know the answer.

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Published by: Michael Pitkowsky on May 09, 2009
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08/25/2015

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Did Moses Forget Something?

I. The Stick Gatherer
1 . !" #$% $&'(&
:!"#$%$& '()*# ')+,-. /-/01*2 /)+3 43*,*2+5$6 7"#*8+9$# :-3"7*;+) )-<*= 4)*&+5$6 (=:)
:>3*6 ?07@&$3 :>3*6 &>/02 :>3 ')+,-. /-/01*2 (!03 ')+3*,09$& (!03 4=)+7*1$5$6 (A:)
:&"8-."& :"B
:(: &>;".-5 &$2 /$70C 30: )+B 7"2*/+9$# (!03 4D)+E$5$6 (8:)
Numbers 15:32-34
And while the children of Israel were in the wildnerness they found a man gathering
sticks on the Shabbat. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to
Moshe and Aharon and to all the congregation. And they put him in custody because
it was not clear what should be done to him.
2 . )*# +#,*% $&'(& *$%,
3:3 672F 3:F 7=82 =6!G& :37F) !6<A= ,7=82= :37F) )<= 6)&)6
:6::D &)<F6 &<6F37 !=F
Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, par. 113
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness - the verse is speaking
critically of Israel since they only observed the first Shabbat and the second one they
desecrated.
3 . '*# +#,*% $&'(& *$%,
3: !62F) !26) !62 &)::D2 =6!G 3:&6 ,6: &F.) &2 F76C 3: )G
!62) &!)2 6H)3= .86) &)& 3: 3:3 F76C 3: )G 726: 862:! &26 (8)
:F861& )C2 6: 723<F 8.
Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, par. 114
Because it was not clear what should be done to him - Isn't it written, And those who
desecrate [the Shabbat] shall be put to death (Exodus 31:14)? And what does the
verse come to teach us, because it was not clear, rather [Moshe] didn't know with
which death to kill him until it was said to him from God.
4 . '*# +#,*% $&'(& *$%,
3=)1. )=7 )8)2:!2 7=D ): &)& )<621F& ?6.2F 318)D )=7 723
&!)2 6H)3= .86) &)& 3: :=3 &!)2= FF612F &F2 &)& .86) 7236
=))D!<F 3:3 [&F2 )8) :.] =!G!F FF612 !F7C &!)& &)637 !26)
)8) :. &=6D6 )3GH )8) :. !6GH '):A:A2 IG: 6)8) :. =!G)!F FF612
.=))D
Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, par. 114
Rabbi Hidka said in the name of Shimon HaShikmoni: I had a friend who was a
student of Rabbi Akiva's and he said that Moshe knew that the gatherer was obligated
to die but he didn't know which death. It would have been fitting that the story of the
gatherer had been written by Moshe but the gatherer became obligated [through his
sin] that it be written by him. Therefore one gives the benefit to one who is deserving
and the obligation to one who is obligated.
5 . !" +#,*% +"!- *$%,
3: )G ')76J3& !)= 72F2= :::12 :,3 6&6D)<& 3: ,6!63 6D)<)6
3: :=3 &!)2 =))D 36&F .86) &F2 &)&F 82:2 ,6: &F.) &2 F76C
&)& 3: 7263 ?6.2F [:F 6<=] 7H.):3 )=7 .6!!)2 &2= .86) &)&
...6!!)2 3)& &2= .86) &)& 3:6 &!)2 =))D 36&F .86) &F2
Midrash Sifrei Zutah, par. 15
And they put him - They did not put him with the blasphemer. In custody - In the jail.
Because it was not clear what should be done to him - This teaches that Moshe knew
that he was obligated to die but he didn't know by which death. Rabbi Eliezer the son
of Shimon said that Moshe didn't know that he was obligated to die and he didn't
know by which death...
II. Second Passover
6 . " #$% $&'(&
D$J>K$& !0;@.$: 4:*G") 30:*6 '"8"3 />C><*: ')+3-2*L 4)"& 7>/@3 ')+/"<@3 )+&*)$6 (6)
:34&$& '(5$# ?07@&$3 )-<*C+:*6 &>/02 )-<*C+: 4=*7*1+5$6 34&$& '(5$#
.$7"M+< &"9": '"8"3 />C><*: ')+3-2*L 4<*D$<@3 6)":-3 &"9-&"& ')+/"<@3"& 47*2305$6 (H)
::-3"7*;+) )-<*# *I(!*# (8@.02*# 8"608*) ?$#*7"1 !>3 =+7*1$& )+N*:+=*:
C :'>G": 8"608*) &>4$,*) &$2 &".*2*/>3*6 48*2+. &>/02 '>&-:@3 7>2305$6 (D)
Numbers 9:6-8
And there were certain men who were defiled by the dead body of a man and they
could not observe the Pesah [offering] on that day. And they came before Moshe and
Aharon on that day. And those men said to him: We are defiled by the dead body of
a man, why should we be penalized and not be able to bring an offering of the Lord at
its proper time among the children of Israel? And Moshe said to them: Stay here and
I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.
7 . ., +#,*% $&'(& *$%,
'&: F)F ')F81 '3 6: 6723 &326L= ')=71 ')F81 ?)3 '&: 723
723 ')=71 6&) 3: !6)7D3 '&: ?)3F ')F81 ')=71 6&) !6)7D3
.)!.2F 3: '&:
Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, par. 68
[Moses] said to them: Holy sacrifices are not offered by those who are impure. They
said to him: Holy sacrifices which have obligatory responsibilities are offered, holy
sacrifices which don't have obligatory responsibilities shouldn't be offered? He said
to them: I have never heard [concerning this].
8 . ., +#,*% $&'(& *$%,
3=)1. )=7 )8)2:!2 7=D ): &)& )<621F& ?6.2F 318)D '7 723
'3 61:D< &2 :. DJC& !3 :G63 32L ?)3F &F2 &)& .86) 7236
)8) :. 723!F ')32L !F7C &!)& &)637 63: '3 '&):. '8& 17H)
)8) :. !6GH '):A:A2F IG: '&)8) :. 723)!F 6:3 6GHF 3:3 &F2
.=))D )8) :. &=6D6 )3GH
Midrash Sifrei Bamidbar, par. 68
Rabbi Hidka said in the name of Shimon HaShikmoni: I had a friend who was a
student of Rabbi Akiva's and he said that Moshe knew that impure people don't eat
[the Pesah offering]. So what was the disagreement about? It was about whether they
throw the blood [of the sacrifice] or not. It would have been fitting that the story of
the impure people had been written by Moshe but they deserved that it be written
through them. Therefore one gives the benefit to one who is deserving and the
obligation through one who is obligated.
III. The Daughters of Tzelofhad
9 . -/ #$% $&'(&
&>%$<*2 ?># 7)+G"2 ?># 8".*:+M ?># 7>C-D ?># 8"D*C":*, !(<*# &"<*=$7*1+N$6 (3)
&"B*:+24 &":*A"D*6 &".0< &":*D$2 6)"!0<*# !(2*/ &>O-3*6 P-J() ?>= &>%$<*2 !0D*K*/+2*:
:&",*7+!*6
&"8-."& :"G*6 '+3)+;*E$& )-<*C+:*6 ?-&0B$& 7"H".*:>3 )-<*C+:*6 &>/02 )-<*C+: &"<*802@.$N$6 (=)
:7023-: 8-.(2 :>&03 D$!>K
!$8@.$# 8"608*) :$. ')+8".(E$& &"8-."& *I(!*# &")"& 30: 34&*6 7"#*8+9$# !-2 4<)+="3 (A)
:(: 4)"& 30: ')+<"=4 !-2 (3*L>D*= )+B D$701
&"QRD@3 4<"O &"<*N ?-# (: ?)-3 )+B (N*D$K*/+2 *I(N+2 4<)+="3 '-/ .$7"M+) &"9": (8)
:4<)+="3 )-D@3 *I(!*#
:8"608*) )-<*C+: ?"L"K*/+2 !>3 &>/02 =-7*1$5$6 (&)
Numbers 27:1-5
Then came the daughters of Tzelofhad, the son of Hefer, the son of Gilad, the son of
Mikhir, the son of Menashe, of the families of Menashe the son of Yosef: and these
are the names of the daughters: Mahla, No'a, and Hogla, and Milka and Tirza. And
they stood before Moshe, and before Elazar the priest, and before the princes and all
the congregation, by the door of the tent of meeting, saying: Our father died in the
wildnerness and he was not in the group of Korah, but he died in his own sin, and had
no sons. Why should the name of our father be done away from his family just
because he had no sons? Give to us a possession among the brethren of our father.
And Moshe brought their case before the Lord.
10 . -* +#,*% 0*$&' *$%,
?)8 ?8 &!3 &F2: 36& I67= F681& 6: 723 ,'G2 &F1) 7F3 7=8&6
?)8 I):. 3)=2 )<3 &F1 ?)8 ?8 &!3 )3F I.)862 )<3F I))D ,&F1
&H &H &H)36 6.2F: :6G) &!3 )3 &!36 6.2F: :6G) I8)2:! 8)2:!F
'& )<C: ?LCF2 !3 &F2 =71)6 7263 36& ?G6 ,8DC:, !6<= :F ?<)8
(&:HG 7=82=)
Midrash Sifrei Devarim, par. 17
“And any matter which is too difficult for you, [you shall bring it to me and I will
hear it]” (Deuteronomy 1:17). The Holy One Blessed Be He said to Moses-“You are
dealing with difficult cases. I promise you that if you insist on handling difficult
cases I will bring before you a case which even your student’s student would be able
to decide and you won’t be able to decide it.” And what was this case? The
daughters of Tzelofhad, as it is written “And Moshe brought their case before the
Lord.” (Numbers 27:5)
11 . + '!(1 "*# 2' +$3& +&& 3/,( *4&& '!(43
,3=)1. )=7 )8)2:!2 7=D ): &)& )<621F& ?6.2F :318)D )=7 723
!6<=F 6<)=7 &F2 &)& .86) :7263 )<621F& ?6.2F )=7 &)& IG6
,63: '3 &76G= 1:D !6:L6< '3 .86) &)& 3: :=3 ,?& !6F76) 8DC:,
!6<= 6GHF 3:3 ,&F2 )8) :. =!G): !6:D< !F7C &!)& &)6376
...?8) :. &=!G<6 8DC:,
Babylonian Talmud Baba Batra 119a
Rabbi Hidka said Shimon HaShikmoni used to say: I had a friend who was a student
of Rabbi Akiva's and he said that Moshe knew that the daughters of Tzelofhad should
inherit, but he didn't know if they get a portion [set aside] for the first born. It would
have been fitting that the story of the "inheritence" had been written by Moshe but
they deserved that it be written through them.
IV. The Blasphemer
12 . '/ #$% +$#*!
4,"E+5$6 :-3"7*;+) )-<*# *I(!*# )+7*,+2 /)+3 ?># 34&*6 !)+:-3*7*;+) &"%+3 ?># 3-,-5$6 ())
:)+:-3*7*;+5$& /)+3*6 !)+:-3*7*;+5$& ?># &><@D$9$#
&>/02 :>3 (!03 43)+="5$6 :-O$1*)$6 '-%$& !>3 !)+:-3*7*;+5$& &"%+3"& ?># =0S+5$6 (3))
:?"8 &-T$2*: )+7*=+U !$# !)+20:*/ (9+3 '-/*6
:8"608*) )+K :$. '>&": /07*C+: 7"2*/+9$# 4&RD)+E$5$6 (=))
Leviticus 24:10-12
And the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among
the children of Israel. And the son of the Israelite woman fought with an Israelite man
and the son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed. And
they brought him to Moshe, his mother's name was Shelomit, the daughter of Divri, of
the tribe of Dan, and they put him in custody in order that God's will be made known.
13 . & '!(1 .1 2' 5*$'67, 3/,( *4&& '!(43
.86) &F2 &)& 3:F '& )C :. '&: F7C: 3:3 6= 723< 3: P8A2 :=3
.63: '3 71). :G &!)2 ?= 36& '3
Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 78b
...but in the case of the blasphemer it is only said in order that God's will be made
known, since Moshe didn't know if he was obligated to die or not.

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