INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: Rebbi Avahu derives from the verse, "[Hash-m said to Moshe,] Now, leave me, so that my wrath can burn upon them," that Moshe Rabeinu grabbed the Holy One, Blessed is He, "like one who grabs his friend by his clothes," and said, "I will not let go of You until You forgive and pardon them!"
How could Moshe "grab" Hash-m? Hash-m has no corporeal form!
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that any object (or person or place) upon which Hash-m calls His name becomes infused with a such holiness that it can be referred to as an extension of Hash-m's own holiness, so to speak (see Sanhedrin 38b).
Moshe Rabeinu grabbed hold of the Luchos, the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written. Hash-m had called His name upon the tablets. Therefore, when Moshe Rabeinu took hold of them, it was as if he grabbed hold of Hash-m Himself. Moshe Rabeinu knew that as long as the Luchos, the "betrothal ring" that Hash-m gave to Israel, were in the hands of the Jewish people, Hash-m could not destroy them. He first would have to "bring an end to the betrothal" by taking back the Luchos. Moshe Rabeinu grabbed hold of the Luchos in order to prevent Hash-m from taking them back. (See Midrash Shemos Rabah, which describes how "two of the six Tefachim of the Luchos were in Moshe's hands, two were in the hands of Hash-m, and the remaining two were between them." -M. KORNFELD)
Although Moshe Rabeinu eventually shattered the Luchos of his own accord, the shards remained in Jewish hands. This saved the nation from decimation.
QUESTION: Rebbi Elazar asserts that fasting is greater than giving Tzedakah, because fasting is done with one's body, while Tzedakah is done only with one's money. The Gemara earlier (6b) said that the reward for a day of fasting comes from the Tzedakah that one gives at the end of his fast. This implies that Tzedakah is greater, for without it, fasting alone is not worthy of reward. How can the two Gemaras be reconciled?
(a) The AHAVAS EISAN (in the Ein Yakov) answers that Rebbi Elazar is consistent with the opinion that he expresses elsewhere. Rebbi Elazar maintains that one who fasts is considered holy, since he separates himself from indulgence in worldly pleasures (Ta'anis 11a). Others argue with Rebbi Elazar and maintain that one who fasts is considered a sinner, since he refrains from partaking of that which Hash-m has created for his benefit (ibid.). Mar Zutra, who says that the reward for fasting is for the Tzedakah that one gives, may agree with the second opinion.
(b) The IYUN YAKOV explains that the earlier Gemara (6b) is discussing the reward that a person receives in this world. Since the act of giving Tzedakah is a Mitzvah between man and his fellow man, he receives reward for it in this world (Rambam, Perush ha'Mishnayos, Pe'ah 1:1). Fasting, though, is a Mitzvah between man and Hash-m, and is rewarded in the World to Come. Thus, in terms of reward in the World to Come, fasting is much greater than Tzedakah.
(c) The Gemara in Chulin (91a) says that the money of the righteous is more precious to them than their bodies (see ). They will subject themselves to strenuous physical labor in order to avoid parting with their money. The Gemara earlier (on 6b) is referring to such Tzadikim, for whom giving money is more difficult than bearing physical pain. For them, giving Tzedakah is indeed greater than fasting. The Gemara here is referring to regular people, for whom fasting is very difficult, while giving away money is easier. (LIKUTEI CHAVER BEN CHAIM, Berachos 6b)
(d) A simple answer may be suggested as follows. The Gemara (on 6b) does not say that the primary reward for fasting comes from the Tzedakah that one gives at the end of the fast. Rather, it means that the only certain reward that one receives for fasting is from the Tzedakah that he gives afterward. When one fasts, it is not certain that he will be rewarded for his fasting, because his intentions may be insincere (for example, if he is fasting because he is not hungry, or because he wants to save himself money). However, it is certain that he will be rewarded for the Tzedakah that he gives after his fast. No matter what his intentions are, his Tzedakah helps a poor person. Certainly, though, when a person's intentions are genuine and pure, fasting is much greater than giving Tzedakah, as the Gemara here says.
This is evident from the context of the Gemara earlier. Every action and reward mentioned there refers to a combination of actions: one for which reward is not certain, but a second for which reward is certain. (For example, "the reward for going to hear the Torah lecture is [from] the running [that one does to get there]." Rashi explains that although one might not understand the lecture and therefore not receive reward for it, he definitely does receive reward for running to the lecture.) (M. KORNFELD)