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Berachos 32


QUESTION: Rebbi Avahu derives from the verse, "[Hashem said to Moshe,] Now, leave me, so that my wrath can burn upon them," that Moshe grabbed the Holy One, Blessed is He "like one who grabs his friend by his clothes," and said, "I'm not letting go of You until you forgive and pardon them!"

What does it mean that Moshe "grabbed" Hashem? Hashem has no corporeal form. How could Moshe "grab" Hashem?

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that there is a concept that any object (or person or place) upon which Hashem calls his name, that object becomes infused with a such a holiness that it can be referred to as an extension of Hashem's own holiness, as it were (see Sanhedrin 38b -MK).

Moshe Rabeinu grabbed hold of the Luchos, the tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments. Hashem had called His name upon the tablets. Therefore, when Moshe took hold of them, it was considered as if he was grabbing hold of Hashem Himself. Moshe know that as long as the Luchos, the "betrothal ring" that Hashem gave to Israel, were in the hands of the Jewish People, Hashem could not possibly destroy them. First, He would have to "bring an end to the betrothal" by taking back the Luchos. Moshe grabbed hold of the Luchos so as not to let Hashem take them back. (See Midrash Shmos Raba, which describes how "two of the six Tefachim of the Luchos were in Moshe's hands, and two were in the hands of Hashem, and the remaining two were in between them." - MK)

Although Moshe eventually shattered the Luchos of his own accord, nevertheless the shards remained in Jewish hands. This is what kept them from being decimated. (CHIDUSHEI HA'GRA)


QUESTION: Rebbi Elazar asserts that fasting is greater than giving Tzedakah, because fasting is done with one's body, while giving 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 its own reward. How are the two Gemaras to be reconciled?


(a) The AHAVAS EISAN (in the Ein Yakov) answers that Rebbi Elazar is consistent with another opinion of his. Rebbi Elazar maintains that one who fasts is considered holy, since he separates himself from indulging in worldly pleasures (Ta'anis 11a). Others argue with Rebbi Elazar and maintain that one who fasts is considered a sinner, since he refrained from benefiting from the things that G-d created for his benefit (ibid.). Mar Zutra, who said that the reward for fasting is the Tzedakah that one gives, may agree to the second opinion.

(b) The IYUN YAKOV explains that the Gemara on 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'Mishnah Pe'ah 1:1). Fasting, though, which is a Mitzvah between man and G-d, is rewarded in the World to Come. Regarding the reward that comes 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 (i.e., than physical effort -- see Insights to Chulin 91). They will subject themselves to strenuous physical labor in order to avoid parting with their money. The Gemara on 6b is referring to such Tzadikim, for whom giving money is more difficult than physical pain. For them, giving Tzedakah is indeed greater than fasting. Our Gemara is referring to regular people, for whom afflicting their bodies by fasting is very difficult, while giving away money is easier. (LIKUTEI CHAVER BEN CHAYIM, 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 from fasting is from the Tzedakah that he gives afterward. When one fasts, it is not definite that he will be rewarded for fasting, because his intentions may not be sincere (for example, he is fasting because he is not hungry, or because he wants to save himself money). However, it *is* definite 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, if a person's intentions are genuine and pure, fasting is much greater than giving Tzedakah, like our Gemara says.

This is clear from the context of the Sugya on 6b. Every action and reward mentioned there refers to an action whose reward is not certain, but the one who performs that action receives definite reward from a secondary action (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 nevertheless receives definite reward for running to the lecture). (M. Kornfeld)

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