Friday, March 7, 2008

Seeing God... on Moshe's Birthday!

“When the lots that Haman had cast landed on the month of Adar, he rejoiced and said, ‘my lots fell on the month in which Moshe died.’ But Haman did not know that while Moshe died on the seventh of Adar, he was also born on the seventh of Adar.” (Megilla 13b)

While it is clear that Haman did not know that Moshe was born on the seventh of Adar, it is evident from the beginning of the gemara that he did know the date of his death. The gemara’s statement that he “did not know that Moshe died on the seventh of Adar, and was born on the seventh of Adar” implies that there was something that he did not know about the death of Moshe as well.

It also behooves us to discover why it was that a man who was so obsessed with the Jewish people, and so knowledgeable of their ways missed the birth date of Moshe, and only knew the day of his death. Midrashim are replete with accounts of Haman quoting verses from the Torah. Like most of our enemies, he knew much about our Torah, and nevertheless combated it viciously. So why then did he never learn of the birth of Moshe?

Rav Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin (Divrei Chalomos 20) writes that “the day that a man is born is when his mazel is at its most powerful point. On that day, every year, he need no fear that any misfortune will befall him. When our sages taught us that the righteous die on their birthdays – that is because for those so righteous, death is an elevation of their mazel, and the next step in their spiritual climb.”

“Ki lo yirani ha’adam v’chai,” is normally translated as “no man can see me and survive.” But Abudraham (Mussaf Shabbos - Kedusha) offers an alternative translation. “’Neither can man see me, nor can the Chai,’ referring to the Angels” But our sages have taught us that while no man can see G-d in his lifetime, he sees him in his death! (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 31) In fact, the Chida (D’vash L’fi Mem 24) offers a number of reason that the righteous must die – and his fifth reason is “Ki lo yirani ha’adam v’chai!” At a righteous human’s death, he reaches a higher level of appreciation of G-d than even the highest angel can ever reach!

Thus, Haman did not know that not only did Moshe die on the seventh of Adar, but that death was really a birth as well, just as was his first birth. He may have even known the dry information about the day that Moshe was born from an entry in the Encycolpedia Persian-ica. But Haman did not truly understand the Jewish purpose in this world – why Moshe was really born. He therefore could not truly understand why Moshe died, and how that death was a birth to another world. He did not know that Moshe’s death was just another rung in a ladder that begins here on earth, and reaches into the heavens.

(It was only some time after this suggestion was written that the author found this very pshat in this gemara in the sefer Chomas Anach on Koheles 3:2. The Chida there quotes his fathers Rav, R. Avraham Itzchaki, who offers a remarkably similar pshat.)

Published in The Jerusalem Life Adar II 2008

No comments: