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Moshe Rabbeinu Was A Kollel Man!! [With A Small Job On The Side]

In Parshas Yisro the Torah teaches us that Moshe judged the Jewish people from morning until night. The Gemara in Shabbos [10] says that this cannot be !! For if Moshe was constantly judging when did he have time to learn Torah. Rather it must be that he judged the Jews for only a short time daily and the rest of the time he learned. And the pasuk is teaching that if one judges a true judgement he is considered a partner to G-d in creation. See the Gemara there and Rav Kook's profound explanation in his "Ain Ayah".

My wife asked me the following question. If in fact Moshe only judged for a short period of time then why does Yisro chide Moshe that all of this judging is going to wear him out because he is overexerting himself? He was barely working. Most of the day he was learning!? [I then saw that the Maharsha asked the same question. Should I start calling my wife Marsha?] I didn't know what to answer her. Could you help me out.

Kli yakar - 18:13 "min haboker ad haerev" BEAUTIFUL analysis of the siuation, wording of pesukim and teirutz! ill leave it for you toread yourself, its so wonderful!

Tell your wife that most midrashim are not meant to be taken literally (she can talk to my wife about it if she wants).

I am fairly certan that the point of the midrash is to point out that one needs a strong grounding in Torah in order to be a good judge. Not that Moshe judged a bit and was in kollel for most of the day. But for me, I prefer to believe (and read the pshat) that moshe rabbeinu, the greatest leader of Clal Yisrael, was moser nefesh and did judge Bnei Yisrael from morning until night. That is the lot and character of a great leader.

Mi-moshe ad Moshe lo kam ki-moshe. The Rambam was very learned, the gadol hador, but he was a leader both because he was a gadol ba-torah, and because he was a doctor (see his battle with the karaim in Egypt that saved Jewish lives)and because he went against the grain (iggeres hashmad) of the rabbanim of his time. It is rare to find leaders who are kollelniks.

This is my first comment here, so with all respect as a former talmid of HaRav Ba'al HaBlog, I submit:

What would Moshe have been "learning" all day anyway? He received Torah straight from hashem's mouth. I don't think there was an issue of conflicting mesorah, or finding a braisa to support his claims. It was more like, "yes, got it. Done."

Amichai - thanks as always for the mareh makom. But I didn't fully understand. Did he learn all day or deal with jurisdiction all day?

Michael - I agree that not all Medrashim should be understood kipshuto [and that our wives should talk] but I don't think we should always apply that rule. Sometimes davka understandingthe medrash kipsuto can solve problems in the psukim. For example the haamek davar that I recently quoted who understood that Moshe was literally 10 amos high [if Marvin Webster was the Human Eraser imagine how Moshe woould have been under the boards] and solved a basic problem in pshat based on that premise.

Noyam - Idon't know who you aer but WELCOME. Good to hear from you.

Torah is an exprssion of Hashem so to speak. Hashem is beyond infinite. So the Torah. The Nefesh Hachaim says that Olam Haba is more and more depth in Torah . It never finishes.

Thanks guys for your contributions!!!

Rav Ally -

Although sometimes problems in the pesukim can be answered by midrashim, there is also the principle of אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו - every passuk can stand on "its own two feet", and should be understandable on its own.

The verses here are understandable on their own - they say very clearly that Moshe was judging the nation from morning until evening, and that Yitro told him that he was going to "get burned out" (to borrow a modern expression). The problem is from the Gemara, that reinterprets the passuk in a manner that is very different from the pashut meaning. However, whichever way that the Gemara is explained, it does not change the pashut meaning of the text. Right?

And perhaps Moshe just needed to sit down because in addition to his arms being tired, he was tired as well.

Yaakov wrote: "Right?"

Well, that depends. If חז"ל had a מסורה that משה was learning all day, and that is why the גמרא has such difficulty with the פשט, then upon that we cannot argue (אם קבלה היא נקבל). To illustrate an oft-used example: משה's wife was an אשה כושית. One מדרש says it means she was beautiful and one מדרש says it means she was dark-skinned. If we apply אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו the פסוק most likely indicates the latter. But if one of those מדרשים is a מסורה from, say, יהושע, who clearly knew which was factually true, then we would have no choice but to follow it. So too here - יהושע knew whether משה learned most of the day and judged a little bit or whether he judged all day.

The point I am trying to convey is that the פשוט meaning isn't always so פשוט.
לא כוונתי לשחוק במילים.

WWFF - In the case of Tzippora, the meaning of Isha Kushit is possibly ambiguous. And further, both of the possible explanations could be true (she could have been both dark-skinned and beautiful).

I never said and did not mean to imply that the derash is not true if it contradicts the peshat. Just that the peshat cannot be discarded in favor of the derash.

In the case of the topic discussed by this blog post, the pashut meaning of the passuk is (in my opinion) unambiguous. Shemot 18:13 and 14 both state very clearly that Moshe was judging the nation from morning until night. The Gemara can still (and does) have a difficulty with the peshat. But if you say that this changes the pashut meaning of the passuk, than I have to disagree with you.

Yoni Henner--I am not 100% sure what the kashya is. Imagine Rav Neventzal who learns all day would now need to be a dayan 2 hours a day. We know that he will not learn less, so his judging 2 hours a day (which is probably the amount of sleep he gets) would wear him out. So too with Moshe.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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