Chapter 15ט״ו
1 א

בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, אָנוּ מוֹצְאִין בְּהַרְבֵּה מְקוֹמוֹת צִוָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַנֵּרוֹת וְעַל הַדְּלָקָתָן בְּשֶׁמֶן זַיִת (שמות כז, ב): וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא כד, ד): עַל הַמְנֹרָה הַטְּהֹרָה יַעֲרֹךְ אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת, אַף כָּאן: בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת.

1 (Numb. 8:2) When you set up the lamps: We find that in several places the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded about lighting the lamps with clear oil of beaten olives, and so it says (in Exod. 27:20) “And you shall command the Children of Israel to bring unto you clear oil of beaten olives.” So also it says (in Lev. 24:2, 4), “[Command the Children of Israel to bring unto you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting....] Upon the unalloyed lampstand shall he set up the lamps.” And here also it is written (in Numb. 8:2), “When you set up (literally, raise up) the lamps.”

2 ב

זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (ישעיה מב, כא): ה' חָפֵץ לְמַעַן צִדְקוֹ יַגְדִּיל תּוֹרָה וְיַאְדִּיר, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה, לֹא בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁאֲנִי צָרִיךְ לְנֵרוֹת הִזְהַרְתִּיךָ עַל הַנֵּרוֹת, אֶלָּא לְזַכּוֹתָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דניאל ב, כב): וּנְהוֹרָא עִמֵּהּ שְׁרֵא, וּכְתִיב (תהלים קלט, יב): גַּם חשֶׁךְ לֹא יַחְשִׁיךְ מִמֶּךָּ וְלַיְלָה כַּיּוֹם יָאִיר כַּחֲשֵׁיכָה כָּאוֹרָה, בָּא לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְנֵרוֹת שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וָדָם. תֵּדַע כְּשֶׁאָדָם בּוֹנֶה בַּיִת עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ חַלּוֹנוֹת צָרוֹת מִבַּחוּץ וּרְחָבוֹת מִבִּפְנִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְהֵא הָאוֹר נִכְנַס מִבַּחוּץ וּמֵאִיר מִבִּפְנִים, וּשְׁלֹמֹה שֶׁבָּנָה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא עָשָׂה כָּךְ אֶלָּא עָשָׂה חַלּוֹנוֹת צָרוֹת מִבִּפְנִים וּרְחָבוֹת מִבַּחוּץ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְהֵא הָאוֹר יוֹצֵא מִבֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ וּמֵאִיר לַחוּץ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א ו, ד): וַיַּעַשׂ לַבָּיִת חַלּוֹנֵי שְׁקֻפִים אֲטוּמִים, לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אוֹר וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְאוֹרָם, וְלָמָּה צִוָּה אֶתְכֶם, לְזַכּוֹתְכֶם, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת, הֱוֵי ה' חָפֵץ לְמַעַן צִדְקוֹ. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא אִם אַתֶּם זְהִירִים לְהַדְלִיק אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת לְפָנַי, אֲנִי מֵאִיר לָכֶם אוֹרָה גְדוֹלָה לֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר (ישעיה ס, א ג): קוּמִי אוֹרִי כִּי בָא אוֹרֵךְ וְהָלְכוּ גּוֹיִם לְאוֹרֵךְ וּמְלָכִים לְנֹגַהּ זַרְחֵךְ.

2 (Is. 42:21) “The Lord was delighted because of His [servant's] righteousness to magnify and glorify Torah”: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, It was not because I need your light that I am telling you to light a lamp. Rather [I am doing so] in order to have you acquire merit (by fulfilling a commandment).” It is likewise written, (in Dan. 2:22), “and the light dwells within Him”; and [similarly] it says (in Ps. 139:12), “Even darkness is not dark to You; for night shines as the day, and darkness becomes like the light.” [Scripture says these things] to inform you that He does not need the lamps of flesh and blood. You yourself know [this truth]. When a person builds a house and makes windows within [his house], he makes windows narrow on the outside and broad on the inside, so that the light will enter from the outside and shine on the inside. But when Solomon built the Temple, he did not make the windows like that.1See above Exod. 8:5; PRK 21:5; Lev. R. 31:7. Rather they were narrow on the inside and broad on the outside so that the light would go out from the Temple and shine outside. It is so stated (in I Kings 6:4), “And for the house he made windows broad and narrow.”2Literally: CLEAR and CLOSED. While the Hebrew is obscure the translation here follows the Targum in order to fit the midrashic context. [This text] is to inform you that He is all light and that He has no need for its light. So why did He command you [to set up the lamps]? In order to have you acquire merit (by fulfilling a commandment). It is therefore stated (in Numb. 8:2), “When you set up the lamps.”3Beha‘aloteka et-hanerot. These words can also mean, IN ELEVATING YOU WITH THE LAMPS. Ergo (in Is. 42:21), “The Lord was delighted because of His [servant's] righteousness.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel, “Be careful to light lamps for My sake, and I will shine a great light for you in the future to come.” It is so stated (in Is. 60:3), “And nations shall walk by your light, even kings by the brightness of your rising.”

3 ג

בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת. אַתְּ מוֹצֵא שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁבָטִים שֶׁהִקְרִיבוּ קָרְבָּנוֹת לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי לֹא הִקְרִיב כְּלוּם, וְהָיוּ מְצֵרִין וְאוֹמְרִים, לָמָּה רֻחַקְנוּ מֵהַקְרִיב לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ. מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁעָשָׂה סְעוּדָה וְהָיָה קוֹרֵא אֻמָּנִיּוֹת, הָיָה אוֹהֵב אֶחָד שֶׁאוֹהֲבוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי, לֹא קָרָא אוֹתוֹ עִמָּהֶן, הָיָה מֵצֵר לוֹמַר שֶׁמָּא יֵשׁ בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ עָלַי כְּלוּם, שֶׁלֹא זִמְּנַנִי בְּכָל סְעוּדוֹת הָאֵלּוּ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָבְרוּ אוֹתָן יְמֵי סְעוּדָה קָרָא אוֹתוֹ אוֹהֵב, אָמַר לוֹ, לְכָל בְּנֵי הַמְדִינָה עָשִׂיתִי סְעוּדָה וּלְךָ לְעַצְמְךָ אֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה סְעוּדָה, לָמָּה, שֶׁאַתְּ אוֹהֲבִי. כָּךְ מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אַתְּ מוֹצֵא שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁבָטִים הִקְרִיבוּ לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְקִבְּלָן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ז, ה): קַח מֵאִתָּם, וְשִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי לֹא הִקְרִיבוּ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָבַר חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו כָּל הַשְּׁבָטִים עָשׂוּ חֲנֻכָּה וְשִׁבְטְךָ לֹא עָשָׂה, לְכָךְ: דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ (במדבר ח, ו): קַח אֶת הַלְוִיִם.

3 (Numb. 8:2) “When you set up the lamps”: You find that, when twelve tribes presented offerings at the dedication of the altar, the tribe of Levi did not offer anything. They were depressed and said, “Why were we removed from making an offering at the dedication of the altar?” A parable: To what is the matter comparable? To a king who made a banquet and each day invited various artisans. Now he had a certain friend who he loved exceedingly, but he did not invite him along with them. So he was depressed saying, “Perhaps the king harbors [some grievance] against me in his heart. [Perhaps] it is for this reason that the king has not invited me to any of the feasts.” When the days of the feast had passed [the king] called the friend [and] said to him, “For all the people of the province I made [that] feast, but for you only I am making one single feast for yourself. Why? Because you are my friend.” So this king is the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. You find that the twelve tribes brought offerings for the dedication of the altar and the Holy One, blessed be He, accepted them, as stated (in Numb. 7:5), “Take it from them.” But the tribe of Levi did not bring an offering. When the dedication of the altar had passed, the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Aaron and his sons, “All the tribes have made a dedication. Now you make a dedication by yourselves.” It is therefore stated (in Numb. 8:2), “Speak unto Aaron [and say unto him], ‘When you set up the lamps,’” and afterwards [it is written] (in vs. 6), “Take the Levites.”

4 ד

דָּבָר אַחֵר, בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, אַתְּ מוֹצֵא שֶׁנִּתְקַשָּׁה משֶׁה בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מִכָּל כְּלֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן, עַד שֶׁהֶרְאָהוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּאֶצְבַּע. וְכֵן בְּפַרְסוֹת בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה וּטְהוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יא, ב): זֹאת הַחַיָה אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכְלוּ (ויקרא יא, ד): אֶת זֶה לֹא תֹאכְלוּ, וְהֶרְאָהוּ בָּאֶצְבַּע. וְכֵן בַּיָּרֵחַ (שמות יב, ב): הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם. וְכֵן בַּמְּנוֹרָה (במדבר ח, ד): וְזֶה מַעֲשֵׂה הַמְּנֹרָה מִקְשָׁה זָהָב, כְּלוֹמַר מַה קָּשָׁה הִיא לַעֲשׂוֹת, שֶׁהַרְבֵּה יָגַע בָּהּ משֶׁה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּתְקַשָּׁה אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה, טֹל כִּכַּר זָהָב וְהַשְּׁלִיכוֹ לָאוּר וְהוֹצִיאֵהוּ וְהִיא מֵעַצְמָהּ נַעֲשֵׂית, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לז, יז): וְכַפְתֹּרֶיהָ וּפְרָחֶיהָ גְּבִיעֶיהָ וְקָנֶיהָ מִמֶּנָּה הָיוּ, מַכֶּה בַּפַּטִישׁ וּמֵעַצְמָהּ נַעֲשֵׂית, לְכָךְ הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמות כה, לא): מִקְשָׁה תֵּיעָשֶׂה, מָלֵא יו"ד כְּתִיב וְלֹא כְּתִיב תֵּעָשֶׂה, כְּלוֹמַר מֵעַצְמָהּ תֵּיעָשֶׂה. נָטַל משֶׁה אֶת הַכִּכָּר וְהִשְׁלִיכוֹ לָאוּר, אָמַר משֶׁה רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם הֲרֵי כִּכָּר בְּתוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹצֶה כֵּן תֵּעָשֶׂה, מִיָּד יָצְתָה הַמְּנוֹרָה עֲשׂוּיָה כְּתִקּוּנָהּ, לְפִיכָךְ כְּתִיב (במדבר ח, ד): כַּמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר הֶרְאָה ה' אֶת משֶׁה, כֵּן עָשָׂה משֶׁה אֶת הַמְּנוֹרָה, אֵין כְּתִיב כָּאן, אֶלָּא כֵּן עָשָׂה סְתָם, וּמִי עָשָׂה, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, לְפִיכָךְ אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה, אִם הִזְהַרְתֶּם לִהְיוֹת מַדְלִיקִין לְפָנַי אֲנִי מְשַׁמֵּר אֶת נַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם מִכָּל דָּבָר רָע, שֶׁנִּמְשְׁלוּ נְפָשׁוֹת כְּנֵר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כ, כז): נֵר ה' נִשְׁמַת אָדָם, וְנֶאֱמַר: בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת.

Another reading: "When you raise up". You see that Moshe struggled [nitkasha] with the design of the Menorah more than all the other vessels of the Mishkan [Tabernacle], until the Holy One Who is Blessed showed him with a finger. Similarly with the hoofs of impure and pure animals, as it says, "These are the animals which you shall eat" (Vayikra 11:4), these are the ones which you shall not eat, and showed him with a finger. Similarly with the moon, "this month is for you" (Shmot 12:2). Similarly with the Menorah, "This is how the Menorah was made: it was hammered work [miksha] of gold" (Bemidbar 8:4), which is to say how hard [kasha] it is to make, since Moshe became weary on account of it. When he struggled, The Holy One Who is Blessed said to Moshe: take a talent of gold and throw it in the fire and take it out, and it will be formed on its own, as it says, "its cups, calyxes, and petals were of one piece with it [lit: came out from it]" (Shmot 37:17) - he would strike it with a hammer and it would be made on its own. Therefore it says "it will be made [te'aseh] of hammered work" (Shmot 25:31) written with a [Hebrew letter] "yod" and not written "you will make [ta'aseh]", that is to say it will be made on its own. Moshe took the talent [of gold] and threw it in the fire. Moshe said, "Master of the Universe, behold the talent is in the fire. Whatever you wish - so shall it be done." The Menorah immediately came out made according to its design, thus it is written, "According to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses..." (Bemidbar 8:4). It is not written here "so did Moses make the Menorah," rather "so was the Menorah made." And who made it? The Holy One Who is Blessed. Therefore the Holy One Who is Blessed said to Moshe: If you are careful to light [it] before me, I will protect your souls from every evil thing, since souls are compared to a candle, as it says. "the candle of Adonai is the soul of a person" (Proverbs 20:27) and it says, "When you raise up the candles)" (Bemidbar 8:2)

5 ה

זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים יח, כט): כִּי אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי. אָמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם לָנוּ אַתָּה אוֹמֵר שֶׁנָּאִיר לְפָנֶיךָ, אַתָּה הוּא אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם וְהָאוֹרָה דָּרָה אֶצְלְךָ, דִּכְתִיב (דניאל ב, כב): וּנְהוֹרָא עִמֵּהּ שְׁרֵא. וְאַתָּה אוֹמֵר (במדבר ח, ב): אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה, הֱוֵי: כִּי אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי. אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא שֶׁאֲנִי צָרִיךְ לָכֶם, אֶלָּא שֶׁתָּאִירוּ לִי כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהֵאַרְתִּי לָכֶם, לָמָּה, לְעַלּוֹת אֶתְכֶם בִּפְנֵי הָאֻמּוֹת, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ אוֹמְרִים רְאוּ הֵיאַךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְאִירִין לְמִי שֶׁהוּא מֵאִיר לְכָל הָעוֹלָם. מָשָׁל לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְפִקֵּחַ וְסוּמָא שֶׁהָיוּ מְהַלְּכִין בַּדֶּרֶךְ, אָמַר לוֹ פִּקֵּחַ לַסּוּמָא כְּשֶׁנִּכָּנֵס לְתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת צֵא וְהַדְלֵק לִי אֶת הַנֵּר הַזֶּה וְהָאֵר לִי, אָמַר לוֹ הַסּוּמָא בְּטוֹבָתְךָ כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ אַתָּה הָיִיתָ מְסַמְכֵנִי עַד שֶׁנִּכְנַסְנוּ לְתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת אַתָּה הָיִיתָ מְלַוֶּה אוֹתִי, וְעַכְשָׁו אַתָּה אוֹמֵר הַדְלֵק לִי אֶת הַנֵּר הַזֶּה וְהָאֵר לִי. אָמַר לוֹ הַפִּקֵּחַ שֶׁלֹא תְהֵא מַחְזִיק לִי טוֹבָה שֶׁהָיִיתִי מְלַוְּךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ, לְכָךְ אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ הָאֵר לִי. כָּךְ הַפִּקֵּחַ זֶה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (זכריה ד, י): עֵינֵי ה' הֵמָּה מְשׁוֹטְטִים בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ. וְהַסּוּמָא אֵלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נט, י): נְגַשְׁשָׁה כַעִוְרִים קִיר. הָיָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַנְהִיגָן וּמֵאִיר לָהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יג, כא): וַה' הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָמַד הַמִּשְׁכָּן קָרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה וְאָמַר לוֹ תָּאִירוּ לִי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת, בִּשְׁבִיל לְעַלּוֹת לָכֶם.

5 (Numb. 8:2) “When you set up the lamps”: This text is related (to Ps. 18:29), “For You light up my lamp.” Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Master of the world, are You saying that we should give light before You?6Exod. R. 36:2. [But] You are the light of the world and the light [dwells] with You, as it is written (in Dan. 2:22), ‘[He reveals the deep and secret things, He knows what is in the darkness,] and the light dwells within Him.’ And [now] You are saying (in Numb. 8:2 cont.), ‘[let the seven lamps give their light] in front of the menorah.’” Ergo (in Ps. 18:29, “For You light up my lamp.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, “It is not because I need [your light]. Rather it is so that you may give light to Me just as I have given light to you in order to exalt you in the presence of all the nations; so that they will say, ‘See how Israel is giving light to the One who gives light to everyone!’” To what is the matter comparable? To a sighted person and a blind person who were walking on a road. The sighted one said to the blind one, “When we enter into the house, go ahead and light this lamp and make light for me.” The blind one said to him, “In your goodness – when I was on the road, you supported me; until we entered the house you guided me; and now you say to me, ‘Light this lamp and make light for me?’” The sighted one said to him, “So that you do not owe me a favor for my guiding you on the road – hence I said to you, ‘Make light for me.’” Thus this sighted one is the Holy One, blessed be He, as stated (Zachariah 4:10), “the eyes of the Lord, ranging over the whole earth.” And the blind one is Israel, as stated (Isaiah 59:10), “We grope, like blind men along a wall.” The Holy One, blessed be He, was leading them and giving them light, as stated (in Exod. 13:21), “And the Lord went before them by day [in a pillar of cloud to guide them on the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light].” When the tabernacle was set up, the Holy One, blessed be He, called to Moses and said to him, “Tell them to give Me light.” It is so stated (in Numb. 8:2), “When you set up [the lamps]” - in order to exalt (lehaalot) you.

6 ו

מַה כְּתִיב לְמַעְלָה מִן הָעִנְיָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ז, א ב): וַיְהִי בְּיוֹם כַּלּוֹת משֶׁה, וַיַּקְרִיבוּ נְשִׂיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאַחַר כָּךְ: דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים לד, י): יְראוּ אֶת ה' קְדשָׁיו כִּי אֵין מַחְסוֹר לִירֵאָיו. אַתְּ מוֹצֵא לְמַעְלָה אַחַד עָשָׂר שְׁבָטִים הִקְרִיבוּ וְשֵׁבֶט אֶפְרַיִם הִקְרִיב, וְכָל הַנְּשִׂיאִים הִקְרִיבוּ חוּץ מִנְּשִׂיאוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי, וּמִי הָיָה נְשִׂיאוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי, זֶה אַהֲרֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יז, יח): וְאֶת שֵׁם אַהֲרֹן תִּכְתֹּב עַל מַטֵּה לֵוִי, וְאַהֲרֹן לֹא הִקְרִיב עִם הַנְּשִׂיאִים, וְהָיָה אוֹמֵר אוֹי לִי שֶׁמָּא בִּשְׁבִילִי אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְקַבֵּל שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה לֵךְ אֱמֹר לוֹ לְאַהֲרֹן אַל תִּתְיָרֵא לִגְדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ אַתָּה מְתֻקָּן. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת. הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת, כָּל זְמַן שֶׁבֵּית הַמִּקְדָשׁ קַיָּם הֵם נוֹהֲגִים, אֲבָל הַנֵּרוֹת לְעוֹלָם (במדבר ח, ב): אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ, וְכָל הַבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְךָ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת בָּנַי, אֵינָן בְּטֵלִין לְעוֹלָם.

The Midrash Rabba (Bamidbar 15:5) relates that when the Jews were given the commandment to kindle the Menorah in the Temple (Bamidbar 8:2), they asked G'd why He told them to light up for Him Who is the Light of the whole world. G'd said to them, "You are right. I do not need your light. But I want to give you an opportunity to light for Me like I have lit for you." G'd led the Jewish people with a cloud of glory and a pillar of fire. This is why He told them to kindle the lights when the Tabernacle was erected. "This will elevate your position amongst the nations. They should say, look how the Jewish nation lights for the One who lights up the whole world." [...] The Midrash explains that this can be compared to a seeing person who leads a blind person as they travel along the road together. When they come to the house, the seeing person says to the blind one, "Please go and light a candle for me." To this the blind person replies, "I do not understand. As long as we were travelling, you supported and guided me. Why do you now ask me to light a candle for you?" To this the seeing person responds, "I want to give you an opportunity to pay me back so that you do not feel an ongoing debt of gratitude".

7 ז

דָּבָר אַחֵר, אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת, שֶׁלֹא תִהְיוּ מְבַזִּין עַל הַמְּנוֹרָה, הֱוֵי (זכריה ד, י): כִּי מִי בַז לְיוֹם קְטַנּוֹת וְשָׂמְחוּ וְרָאוּ אֶת הָאֶבֶן הַבְּדִיל בְּיַד זְרֻבָּבֶל שִׁבְעָה אֵלֶּה, אֵלֶּה זוֹ הַמְּנוֹרָה, שִׁבְעָה אֵלּוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת, כְּנֶגֶד שִׁבְעָה כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁמְשׁוֹטְטִין בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ, כָּךְ הֵם חֲבִיבִין שֶׁלֹא תִהְיוּ מְבַזִּין עֲלֵיהֶן, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת, שֶׁלֹא יַטְעֶה אוֹתְךָ יִצְרְךָ לוֹמַר שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ אוֹרָה, רְאֵה מַה כְּתִיב בַּחַלּוֹנוֹת (יחזקאל מ, טז): וְחַלּוֹנוֹת אֲטֻמוֹת אֶל הַתָּאִים וְאֶל אֵלֵיהֵמָה לִפְנִימָה וגו' וְכֵן לָאֵלַמּוֹת וגו' כְּהַחַלּוֹנוֹת הָאֵלֶּה. כַּחַלּוֹנוֹת אֵין כְּתִיב כָּאן, אֶלָּא כְּהַחַלּוֹנוֹת, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רְחָבוֹת מִבַּחוּץ וְצָרוֹת מִבִּפְנִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מוֹצִיאִין אוֹרָה לַחוּץ. אָמַר רַבִּי בֶּרֶכְיָה הַכֹּהֵן בֵּירַבִּי הַבָּרָק הַזֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת הָאֵשׁ שֶׁל מַעְלָן הוּא, וְהוּא יוֹצֵא וּמַבְהִיק אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל א, יג): וּדְמוּת הַחַיּוֹת מַרְאֵיהֶם כְּגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ בֹּעֲרוֹת כְּמַרְאֵה הַלַּפִּדִים, וּמִן הָאֵשׁ יוֹצֵא בָרָק, וּמַבְהִיק אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ, וַאֲנִי צָרִיךְ לָאוֹרָה שֶׁלָּכֶם, וְלָמָּה אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ, כְּדֵי לְעַלּוֹתֶךָ. אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עֵינַיִם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּךָ יֵשׁ בְּתוֹכָן לָבָן וְשָׁחוֹר, וְאֵין אַתָּה רוֹאֶה מִתּוֹךְ הַלָּבָן אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ הַשָּׁחוֹר, וּמָה אִם עֵינֶיךָ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּתוֹכָן שָׁחוֹר וְלָבָן אֵין אַתָּה רוֹאֶה אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ הַשָּׁחוֹר, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אוֹרָה הוּא צָרִיךְ לָאוֹרָה שֶׁלָּכֶם. דָּבָר אַחֵר, אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה, בָּשָׂר וָדָם מַדְלִיק נֵר מִנֵּר דָּלוּק, שֶׁמָּא יוּכַל לְהַדְלִיק נֵר מִתּוֹךְ הַחשֶׁךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית א, ב): וְחשֶׁךְ עַל פְּנֵי תְהוֹם, מַה כְּתִיב אַחֲרָיו (בראשית א, ג): וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר, וּמִתּוֹךְ הַחשֶׁךְ הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹרָה, וַאֲנִי צָרִיךְ לָאוֹרָה שֶׁלָּכֶם, וְלֹא אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ אֶלָּא לְעַלּוֹת אוֹתְךָ, (שמות כז, כ): לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד.

Another explanation, "at the front of the menorah, let the seven lights give light" (Numbers 8:2), so that they shouldn't dishonour the menorah. (Zechariah 4:10) "Does anyone scorn a day of small [beginnings]? When they see the stone of distinction in the hand of Zerubavel they shall rejoice over these seven". "These" -- this is the menorah. "Seven" -- these are the seven lights, corresponding to the seven stars that wander in all the land [planets?]. So they are beloved that they are not disgraced on them, for this it says "at the front of the menorah let the seven lights give light" -- so that they should not become mistaken to you, and you should need to say that He needs light, see that which is written of windows (Ezekiel 40:16) "The recesses—and their supports—had windows with frames on the interior [of the gate complex on both sides]" etc., and so "the interiors [of the vestibules also had windows on both sides]" (ibid.) were like these windows. 'Like windows' is not written here, rather, "like the windows", that they should be wide from the outside and narrow from within, so that they would bring in light from outside. Rabbi Berachyah the kohen said in the name of Rabbi, this lightning is offspring of the fire from above, and it comes out and lights the whole world, as it says (Ezekiel 1:13) "Such then was the appearance of the creatures. With them was something that looked like burning coals of fire. This fire, suggestive of torches, kept moving about among the creatures; the fire had a radiance, and lightning issued from the fire." And lights the whole world, and I need their light. And why did I tell you? To deceive you. Rabbi Chanina said, the Holy Blessed one said "Eyes have black and white [parts] in them, and you don't see from the white but rather from the black [parts], and so if your eyes that have black and white within them only see with the black, the Holy Blessed One is entirely Light and needs to light them. Another explanation, "at the front of the menorah", flesh and blood kindle a light from another light, since they are unable to create light from darkness, as it says (Genesis 1:2) "Darkness was over the face of the deep". Why is it written after this (Genesis 1:3) "And God said, "Let there be light"" and from the midst of the darkness brought forth light. And I need to light them, and I didn't say to you except to bring you up -- (Exodus 27:20) "to set up the eternal light" .

8 ח

דָּבָר אַחֵר, בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים קלט, יב): גַּם חשֶׁךְ לֹא יַחְשִׁיךְ מִמֶּךָּ וְלַיְלָה כַּיּוֹם יָאִיר כַּחֲשֵׁיכָה כָּאוֹרָה, וְלָנוּ אוֹמֵר בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ אוֹהֵב, אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ תֵּדַע שֶׁאֶצְלְךָ אֲנִי סוֹעֵד, אֶלָּא לֵךְ וְתַקֵּן לִי. הָלַךְ אוֹהֲבוֹ וְהִתְקִין מִטָּה שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט, מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט, וְשֻׁלְחָן שֶׁל הֶדְיוֹט. כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא הַמֶּלֶךְ בָּאוּ עִמּוֹ שַׁמָּשִׁין סִבְּבוּ מִכָּן וּמִכָּן מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל זָהָב לְפָנָיו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה אוֹהֲבוֹ אֶת כָּל הַכָּבוֹד הִתְבַּיֵּשׁ וְהִטְמִין אֶת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִתְקִין לוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַכֹּל הֶדְיוֹטוֹת, אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ לֹא אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ שֶׁאֶצְלְךָ אֲנִי סוֹעֵד, לָמָּה לֹא הִתְקַנְתָּ לִי כְּלוּם. אָמַר לוֹ אוֹהֲבוֹ רָאִיתִי אֶת כָּל הַכָּבוֹד הַזֶּה שֶׁבָּא עִמְּךָ, וְנִתְבַּיַּשְׁתִּי וְהִטְמַנְתִּי כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִתְקַנְתִּי לְךָ שֶׁהָיוּ כְּלֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת. אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ חַיֶּיךָ שֶׁאֲנִי פּוֹסֵל אֶת כָּל כֵּלַי שֶׁהֵבֵאתִי וּבִשְׁבִיל אַהֲבָתְךָ אֵינִי מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ אֶלָּא בְּשֶׁלָּךְ. וְכֵן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כֻּלּוֹ אוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דניאל ב, כב): וּנְהוֹרָא עִמֵּהּ שְׁרֵא, וְהוּא אָמַר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הַתְקִינוּ לִי מְנוֹרָה וְנֵרוֹת, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (שמות כה, ח): וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם, (שמות כה, לא): וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַת זָהָב טָהוֹר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָשׂוּ בָּאת שְׁכִינָה, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (שמות מ, לה): וְלֹא יָכֹל משֶׁה לָבוֹא אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, מִיָּד קָרָא לְמשֶׁה (במדבר ז, פט): וּבְבֹא משֶׁה אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת הַקּוֹל מִדַּבֵּר, מַה דִּבֵּר אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת.

Another interpretation, "at your setting up" (Numbers 8:2). This is what the verse says (Psalms 139:12) "Darkness is not dark for You; night is as light as day; darkness and light are the same". And to us He says "at your setting up" -- to what is the matter similar? To a king who had a loved one. The king said, "know that I will eat with you, so go and prepare for me". The loved one went and prepared an ordinary couch, an ordinary lamp [menora], an ordinary table. When the king came, he brought his assistants around him and a golden lamp before him. When the loved one saw all the glory of the king, he became ashamed and hid all he had prepared for the king, since they all were ordinary. The king said to him, "Did I not tell you I would eat with you? Why have you prepared nothing for me?" The loved one said to him, "I saw all the glory that you came with, and I was ashamed and hid all I had prepared for you, for they were all ordinary things." The king said to him, "By your life [I swear] that I will ruin all my things that I brought with me, and for the sake of your love I will not use anything except your possessions!" And so, the Holy Blessed One is entirely light, as it is said (Daniel 2:22) "And light dwells with Him", and God says to Israel "Prepare for me a menorah and lights". Why is written there (Exodus 25:8) "And they will make me a Mikdash and I will dwell in their midst", (Exodus 25:31) "And make Me a menorah of pure gold"? So when you make it, the Shechina comes. Why is it written there (Exodus 40:35) "And Moshe was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting", immediately [God] called to Moshe (Numbers 7:89) "When Moshe went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would her the Voice speaking". What would it speak to him? "At your setting up of the lights".

9 ט

אָמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל (תהלים מג, ג): שְׁלַח אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ הֵמָּה יַנְחוּנִי, גָּדוֹל אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, הַחַמָּה וְהַלְּבָנָה מְאִירִים לָעוֹלָם, וּמֵהֵיכָן הֵן מְאִירִים מִזִּקּוּקֵי אוֹר שֶׁל מַעְלָן הֵן חוֹטְפִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (חבקוק ג, יא): לְאוֹר חִצֶּיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּ לְנֹגַהּ בְּרַק חֲנִיתֶךָ. גָּדוֹל הָאוֹר שֶׁל מַעְלָן שֶׁלֹא נִתַּן מִמֶּנּוּ לְכָל הַבְּרִיוֹת אֶלָּא אֶחָד מִמֵּאָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דניאל ב, כב): יָדַע מָה בַחֲשׁוֹכָא. לְפִיכָךְ עָשִׂיתִי חַמָּה וּלְבָנָה שֶׁיָּאִירוּ לְפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית א, יז): וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם לְהָאִיר. אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת, אָמַר דָּוִד (משלי טז, טו): בְּאוֹר פְּנֵי מֶלֶךְ חַיִּים, אָמַר רַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי נִמְנַעַת הַשִֹּׂמְחָה מִן הָרְשָׁעִים וְנִתְּנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁהֻצְּרַךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֵישֵׁב עִם בָּשָׂר וָדָם בְּנֵר, שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם: אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ.

9 Israel said (in Ps. 43:3), “Send out Your light and Your truth; they will lead me.” Great is the light of the Holy One, blessed be He! The sun and the moon give light to the world, but from where do they derive their light? They snatch some sparks of celestial light. It is so stated (in Hab. 3:11), “[Sun and moon remain on high;] they go for the light of Your arrows, for the brightness of Your shining spear.” Great is the celestial light, of which only one part in a hundred has been given to mortals. It is so stated (in Dan. 2:22), “He knows what10MH read as M’H which means “a hundred.” is in the darkness, and the light [dwells with Him].” Therefore [the Holy One, blessed be He, says,] “I made sun and moon so that they would give you light, as stated (in Gen. 1:17), “God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” (Numb. 8:2:) “Let the seven lamps give their light in front of the menorah”: (David) [Solomon] said (in Prov. 16:15), “In the light of the king's face there is life.” R. Jacob bar Jose said, “Joy was withheld from the wicked and given to Israel, because the Holy One, blessed be He, was obliged to dwell among flesh and blood in the light. Thus he said to them (in Numb. 8:2), ‘[Let the seven lamps] give their light in front of the menorah.’”

10 י

רַבִּי לֵוִי בַּר רַבִּי אוֹמֵר, מְנוֹרָה טְהוֹרָה יָרְדָה מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם, שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה (שמות כה, לא): וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַת זָהָב טָהוֹר, אָמַר לוֹ כֵּיצַד נַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ, אָמַר לוֹ (שמות כה, לא): מִקְשָׁה תֵּעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן נִתְקַשָּׁה משֶׁה וְיָרַד וְשָׁכַח מַעֲשֶׂיהָ, עָלָה וְאָמַר רִבּוֹנִי כֵּיצַד נַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ, אָמַר לוֹ: מִקְשָׁה תֵּעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן נִתְקַשָּׁה משֶׁה וְיָרַד וְשָׁכַח, עָלָה וְאָמַר רִבּוֹנִי שָׁכַחְתִּי אוֹתָהּ, הֶרְאָה לוֹ לְמשֶׁה וְעוֹד נִתְקַשָּׁה בָהּ. אָמַר לוֹ (שמות כה, מ): וּרְאֵה וַעֲשֵׂה, עַד שֶׁנָּטַל מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל אֵשׁ וְהֶרְאָה לוֹ עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן נִתְקַשָּׁה עַל משֶׁה, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֵךְ אֵצֶל בְּצַלְאֵל וְהוּא יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ, וְאָמַר לִבְצַלְאֵל מִיָּד עֲשָׂאָהּ, הִתְחִיל תָּמֵהַּ וְאָמַר אֲנִי כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים הֶרְאָה לִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְנִתְקַשֵּׁיתִי לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ, וְאַתְּ שֶׁלֹא רָאִיתָ עָשִׂיתָ מִדַּעְתְּךָ, בְּצַלְאֵל, בְּצֵל אֵל הָיִיתָ עוֹמֵד כְּשֶׁהֶרְאָה לִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ. וּלְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁחָרַב בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ נִגְנְזָה הַמְּנוֹרָה. וְזֶה אֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה דְבָרִים שֶׁנִּגְנַז, הָאָרוֹן, וְהַמְּנוֹרָה, וְהָאֵשׁ, וְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וְהַכְּרוּבִים. וּכְשֶׁיָּשׁוּב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּרַחֲמָיו וְיִבְנֶה בֵיתוֹ וְהֵיכָלוֹ, הוּא מַחֲזִירָן לִמְקוֹמָן לְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה לה, א): יְשֻׂשׂוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה, (ישעיה לה, ב): פָּרֹחַ תִּפְרַח וְתָגֵל.

10 R. Levi bar Rabbi said, “A pure menorah descended from the heavens. Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses (in Exod. 25:31), ‘And you shall make a menorah of pure gold.’ He said to Him, ‘How shall we make [it]?’ He said to him (ibid. cont.), ‘Of hammered work shall the menorah be made.’ Nevertheless Moses had difficulty; for when he descended, he had forgotten its construction.11See Tanh., Lev. 3:8; Mekhilta deRabbi Ishmael, Piska 2; PRK 15; PR 15:21; 20:4; Exod. R. 15:28. He went up and said, ‘Master of the world, I have forgotten [it].’ He showed Moses, but it was still difficult for him. He said to him (in Exod. 25:40), ‘Observe and make [it].’ Thus He took a pattern of fire and showed him its construction,12See Men. 29a Bar.; Sifre Numb. 8:4 (61); Numb. R. 15:4. but it was still difficult for Moses. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, ‘Go to Bezalel and he will make it.’ [So] Moses spoke to Bezalel, [and] he made it immediately. Moses began to wonder and say, ‘In my case, how many times did the Holy One, blessed be He, show it to me; yet I had difficulty in making it. Now without seeing it, you have made it from your own knowledge. Bezalel (btsl'l), were you perhaps standing in (b) the shadow (tsl) of God ('l) when the Holy One, blessed be He, showed it to me?’ Therefore when the Temple was destroyed, the menorah was stored away.” Now this was one of the five things that were stored away: the ark, the menorah, the fire, the holy spirit, and the cherubim.13Therefore, these five things were lacking from the Second Temple. See Syr. Baruch 6:4–10; TYoma2:15; TSot. 13:1; yTa‘an. 2:1 (65a); yHor. 3:3(2) (47c); Yoma 21b; Hor. 12a; ARN, A, 41. When the Holy One, blessed be He, returns in his mercy to build His house and His Temple, He will restore them to their place and cause Jerusalem to rejoice. Thus it is stated (in Is. 35:1-2), “The desert and the arid land shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice and blossom like a crocus. It shall blossom abundantly and be glad.”14These five expressions of gladness in these verses correspond to the five things that will be restored in the new temple.

11 יא

קַח אֶת הַלְוִיִּם. הֲלָכָה, כַּמָּה נִימִין הָיוּ בַּכִּנּוֹר שֶׁהָיוּ הַלְוִיִּם מְנַגְנִים בּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה שֶׁבַע נִימִין הָיוּ בַּכִּנּוֹר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים טז, יא): שׂבַע שְׂמָחוֹת אֶת פָּנֶיךָ נְעִמוֹת, אַל תְּהִי קוֹרֵא שׂבַע, אֶלָּא שֶׁבַע שְׂמָחוֹת. וְכֵן דָּוִד אוֹמֵר (תהלים קיט, קסד): שֶׁבַע בַּיּוֹם הִלַּלְתִּיךָ עַל מִשְׁפְּטֵי צִדְקֶךָ. וְלִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ נַעֲשֵׂית שְׁמוֹנֶה, שֶׁכֵּן דָּוִד אוֹמֵר בְּנִגּוּן (תהלים ו, א): לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת עַל הַשְּׁמִינִית. וְלֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא נַעֲשֵׂית עֶשֶׂר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קמד, ט): אֱלֹהִים שִׁיר חָדָשׁ אָשִׁירָה לָךְ בְּנֵבֶל עָשׂוֹר. וּמִי הִתְקִין לָהֶם, שְׁמוּאֵל וְדָוִד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים א ט, כב): הֵמָּה יִסַּד דָּוִיד וּשְׁמוּאֵל הָרֹאֶה בֶּאֱמוּנָתָם. וְהֵם הֶעֱמִידוּ חֲלוּקֵי הַשִּׁיר, וְהָיוּ הַלְוִיִּם עוֹמְדִים עַל הַדּוּכָן וּמְזַמְּרִים לִפְנֵי מִי שֶׁאָמַר וְהָיָה הָעוֹלָם, רְאֵה חִבָּה שֶׁחִבֵּב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַלְוִיִּם, כָּךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה הַרְבֵּה הַלְוִיִּם חֲבִיבִין לְפָנַי, קַח אוֹתָם לִשְׁמִי לִשְׂרָרָה, מִנַּיִן מִמַּה שֶּׁקָּרִינוּ בָּעִנְיָן קַח אֶת הַלְוִיִּם.

Rabbi Levi son of Rabbi says: A pure Menorah came down from heaven, as The Holy One Who is Blessed said to Moshe "You will make a Menorah of pure gold [alt: a pure Menorah of gold]" (Shmot 25:31) [Moshe] responded: how will we make it? [God] responded "It will be made of hammered work [mikshah]" (Shmot 25:31). Nevertheless, Moshe struggled [nitkasha] and went down and forgot its manner of work. He went up and said: My Master, how will we make it? [God] said "It will be made of hammered work." Nevertheless, Moshe struggled and went down and forgot. He went up and said: My Master, I forgot it. [God] showed Moshe and Moshe still struggled. [God] said to him: "See and do" (Shmot 25:40), and took a Menorah of fire and showed him how it was made. Nevertheless, it was a struggle for Moshe. The Holy One Who is Blessed said to him: Go to Betzalel, and he will make it. [Moshe] told Betzalel and he immediately made it. He was amazed and said: For me, how many times did the Holy One Who is Blessed show me and I struggled to make it, but for you, who never saw it, you make it from your thoughts! Betzalel, you were standing in the shadow of God [b'tzel el] when the Holy One Who is Blessed showed me how to make it. Therefore, when the Temple was destroyed, the Menorah was hidden. And this is one of the five things that was hidden: the ark, the Menorah, the fire, the holy spirit, and the cherubs. When the Holy One Who is Blessed returns in [God]'s mercy and builds [God]'s house and sanctuary, [God] will bring them back to their place to make Jerusalem rejoice, as it says, "The arid desert shall be glad, The wilderness shall rejoice" (Isaiah 35:1), "It shall blossom abundantly, It shall also exult" (Isaiah 35:2).

12 יב

קַח אֶת הַלְוִיִּם. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים יא, ה): ה' צַדִּיק יִבְחָן וְרָשָׁע וְאֹהֵב חָמָס שָׂנְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ. ה' צַדִּיק יִבְחָן, אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַעֲלֶה אֶת הָאָדָם לִשְׂרָרָה עַד שֶׁבּוֹחֵן וּבוֹדֵק אוֹתוֹ תְּחִלָּה, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בְּנִסְיוֹנוֹ הוּא מַעֲלֶה אוֹתוֹ לִשְֹּׂרָרָה. וְכֵן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא בְּאַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ נִסָּהוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עֶשֶׂר נִסְיוֹנוֹת וְעָמַד בָּהֶן וְאַחַר כָּךְ בֵּרְכוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית כד, א): וַה' בֵּרַךְ אֶת אַבְרָהָם בַּכֹּל. וְכֵן יִצְחָק נִסָּהוּ בִּימֵי אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְעָמַד בְּנִסְיוֹנוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ בֵּרְכוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית כו, יב): וַיִּזְרַע יִצְחָק בָּאָרֶץ הַהִיא וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ ה', וְכֵן יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ נִסָּהוּ בְּכָל אוֹתָן הַצָּרוֹת, בְּעֵשָׂו, בְּרָחֵל, בְּדִינָה, בְּיוֹסֵף, וְהַאֵיךְ יָצָא מִבֵּית אָבִיו (בראשית לב, י): כִּי בְמַקְלִי עָבַרְתִּי אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן. וּבֵרְכוֹ (בראשית לה, ט): וַיֵּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶל יַעֲקֹב עוֹד בְּבֹאוֹ מִפַּדַן אֲרָם וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ. וְכֵן יוֹסֵף בְּאֵשֶׁת פּוֹטִיפֶרַע, וְהָיָה חָבוּשׁ שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָצָא וְנַעֲשָׂה מֶלֶךְ עַל שֶׁעָמַד בְּנִסְיוֹנוֹתָיו, הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר: ה' צַדִּיק יִבְחָן. אַף שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי נָתְנוּ עַצְמָן עַל קִדּוּשׁ שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁכְּשֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרַיִם מָאֲסוּ בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּילָה, שֶׁכֵּן יְחֶזְקֵאל מוֹכִיחָן (יחזקאל כ, ה): כֹּה אָמַר ה' אֱלֹהִים בְּיוֹם בָּחֳרִי בְיִשְׂרָאֵל וָאֶשָֹּׂא יָדִי לְזֶרַע בֵּית יַעֲקֹב וָאִוָּדַע לָהֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם, מַה כְּתִיב בַּסּוֹף אַחֲרָיו (יחזקאל כ, ח): וַיַּמְרוּ בִי וְלֹא אָבוּ לִשְׁמֹעַ אֵלַי, וָאֹמַר לִשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם. מֶה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, הֵבִיא חשֶׁךְ עַל הַמִּצְרִיִּים שְׁלשָׁה יָמִים וְהָרַג בָּהֶן כָּל רִשְׁעֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (יחזקאל כ, לח): וּבָרוֹתִי מִכֶּם הַמֹּרְדִים וְהַפּוֹשְׁעִים בִּי, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (שיר השירים ב, יג): הַתְּאֵנָה חָנְטָה פַגֶּיהָ, אֵלּוּ הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁהָיוּ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, (שיר השירים ב, יג): וְהַגְּפָנִים סְמָדַר נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ, הַנִּשְׁאָרִים שֶׁעָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה נִתְקַבְּלוּ, (שיר השירים ב, יג): קוּמִי לָךְ רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי וּלְכִי לָךְ, שֶׁהֲרֵי הִגִּיעַ קֵץ הַגְּאֻלָּה. אֲבָל שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי כֻּלָּם צַדִּיקִים הָיוּ, וְהָיוּ עוֹשִׂים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג, ט): כִּי שָׁמְרוּ אִמְרָתֶךָ וּבְרִיתְךָ יִנְצֹרוּ, זוֹ הַמִּילָה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעָשׂוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הָעֵגֶל לֹא נִשְׁתַּתְּפוּ שָׁם שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁל לֵוִי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, כו): וַיַּעֲמֹד משֶׁה בְּשַׁעַר הַמַּחֲנֶה וַיֵּאָסְפוּ אֵלָיו כָּל בְּנֵי לֵוִי, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם משֶׁה (שמות לב, כז): שִׂימוּ אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ עַל יְרֵכוֹ, מֶה עָשׂוּ, שָׂמוּ וְלֹא נָשְׂאוּ פָנִים, וְכֵן משֶׁה מְבָרְכָם (דברים לג, ט): הָאֹמֵר לְאָבִיו וּלְאִמּוֹ לֹא רְאִיתִיו, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרָאָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁכֻּלָּם צַדִּיקִים נִסָּה אוֹתָן וְעָמְדוּ בְּנִסְיוֹנָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג, ח): אֲשֶׁר נִסִּיתוֹ בְּמַסָּה. מִיָּד אָמַר (במדבר ח, יד): וְהָיוּ לִי הַלְוִיִּם. לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ה' צַדִּיק יִבְחָן. אֲבָל הָרְשָׁעִים כְּתִיב בָּהֶם: וְרָשָׁע וְאֹהֵב חָמָס שָׂנְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ, אָמַר דָּוִד (תהלים קכח, א): אַשְׁרֵי כָּל יְרֵא ה' הַהֹלֵךְ בִּדְרָכָיו.

12 (Numb. 8:6) “Take the Levites”: This text is related (to Ps. 11:5), “The Lord tests the righteous […].” The Holy One, blessed be He, does not elevate a person to an office until He first tests and examines him. When he withstands his test, He elevates him to the office. And so you find in the case of our father Abraham; when the Holy One, blessed be He, tested him with ten temptations, he withstood his trials. Then after that He blessed him, as stated (in Gen. 24:1), “And the Lord blessed Abraham in all things.” So also in the case of Isaac, when He tested him with the days of Abimelech, he withstood the trial. Then after that He blessed him, as stated (in Gen. 26:12), “So Isaac sowed on that land […] for the Lord had blessed him.” So also in the case of Jacob, when He tested him by means of all those tribulations with Esau, with Rachel, with Dinah, with Joseph, and [with the tribulation of] how he departed from the house of his father (in Gen. 32:11), “for with [only] my staff did I cross [this] Jordan.” Then after that He blessed him. It is so stated (in Gen. 35:9), “Now God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-Aram, and blessed him.” So also in the case of Joseph, with the wife of Potiphar and he was imprisoned for twelve years. Then after that he came out and became king because he had withstood his trials. Ergo (in Ps. 11:5), “The Lord tests the righteous.” So also in the case of the tribe of Levi, they laid down their lives for the sanctification of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, (i.e. for martyrdom). Now when Israel was in Egypt, they had rejected the Torah and, as Ezekiel had rebuked them where it is stated (in Ezek. 20:5), “And you shall say unto them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “In the day that I chose Israel […].”’” Then what is written at the end (in vs. 8)? “But they rebelled against Me and did not come to hearken unto Me … and I resolved to pour out My fury upon them.” What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He brought darkness upon Egypt for three days, and during those [days] he killed all the wicked ones of Israel. For this reason it says (in Ezek. 20:36-38), “[As I brought your ancestors to judgment in the desert of the land of Egypt….] So will I remove from you those who rebel and transgress against Me.” So also it says (in Cant. 2:13), “And the fig tree sheds18Heb.: hanetah. Although the biblical context suggests a translation such as “puts forth” or “ripens” the context understands this rare verb in a more negative sense. See Tanh. (Buber); Exod. 3:7). its green figs…,” these are the wicked who are in Israel; (ibid. cont.) “and the vines in blossom give off fragrance,” these are the rest who have repented and been accepted; (ibid. cont.) “arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away,” for behold the time of redemption has arrived. However all those in the tribe of Levi were righteous and carried out the Torah. It is so stated (in Deut. 33:9), “For they observed Your word,” i.e., the Torah; (ibid. cont.) “and kept Your covenant,” i.e., circumcision. And not only that, but when Israel made the calf, the tribe of Levi did not participate there, as stated (in Exod. 32:26), “So Moses stood up on the gate of the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord come to me,’ and all the Children of Levi gathered unto him.” When Moses said (in vs. 27), “Each [of you] put his sword on his thigh…,” they immediately did so. Moreover they did not show partiality. And so Moses blesses them, [namely (according Deut. 33:9)], “The one who says of his father and mother, ‘I do not consider them’ and his brother….” When the Holy One, blessed be He, saw that they all were righteous, that He had tested them and they had withstood their trial – as stated (of Levi in Deut. 33:8), “[Your faithful one,] whom You tested at Massah” – the Holy One, blessed be He, immediately said (in Numb. 8:14), “And the Levites shall belong to Me,” to fulfill what is stated (in Ps. 11:5), “The Lord tests the righteous.” In the case of the wicked, however, it is written of them (ibid. cont.), “but His soul (i.e. the soul of the Holy One, blessed be He,) hates the wicked and the lover of injustice.” David said (in Ps. 128:1), “Fortunate is everyone who fears the Lord and walks in His ways.”

13 יג

עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף (במדבר י, ב), זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים כד, ז): שְׂאוּ שְׁעָרִים רָאשֵׁיכֶם, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהִכְנִיס שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת הָאָרוֹן לַמִּקְדָּשׁ אָמַר: שְׂאוּ שְׁעָרִים רָאשֵׁיכֶם וְהִנָּשְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵי עוֹלָם, שֶׁהָיוּ הַפְּתָחִים שְׁפָלִים, וְאָמַר: וְהִנָּשְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵי עוֹלָם וְיָבוֹא מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד, אָמְרוּ הַשְּׁעָרִים (תהלים כד, י): מִי הוּא זֶה מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד, מִיָּד בִּקְשׁוּ הַשְּׁעָרִים לֵירֵד עָלָיו וְלָרֹץ אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ, אִלּוּלֵי שֶׁאָמַר (תהלים כד, י): ה' צְבָאוֹת הוּא מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד סֶלָּה, וְחָזַר וְאָמַר (תהלים כד, ח): ה' עִזּוּז וְגִבּוֹר ה' גִּבּוֹר מִלְחָמָה, (תהלים כד, ט): שְׂאוּ שְׁעָרִים רָאשֵׁיכֶם, אָמַר לָהֶם הִתְגַּדְּלוּ שֶׁמֶּלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד עֲלֵיכֶם, מִיָּד חָלְקוּ לוֹ כָּבוֹד וְנָשְׂאוּ עַצְמָן וְנִכְנַס הָאָרוֹן. אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתֶּם חֲלַקְתֶּם לִי כָּבוֹד, חַיֵּיכֶם כְּשֶׁאֲנִי אַחֲרִיב אֶת בֵּיתִי אֵין אָדָם שׁוֹלֵט בָּכֶם, תֵּדַע שֶׁכָּל כְּלֵי הַמִּקְדָּשׁ גָּלוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דניאל א, ב): וַיִּתֵּן ה' בְּיָדוֹ אֶת יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה וּמִקְצָת כְּלֵי בֵית הָאֱלֹהִים, אֲבָל שַׁעֲרֵי בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּמְקוֹמָן נִגְנְזוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איכה ב, ט): טָבְעוּ בָאָרֶץ שְׁעָרֶיהָ. מַהוּ ה' צְבָאוֹת הוּא מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד סֶלָה, שֶׁהוּא חוֹלֵק לִירֵאָיו מִכְּבוֹדוֹ, כֵּיצַד, הוּא נִקְרָא אֱלֹהִים, וְקָרָא לְמשֶׁה אֱלֹהִים (שמות ז, א): רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה. הוּא מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים, וְחָלַק מִכְּבוֹדוֹ לְאֵלִיָּהוּ וְהֶחֱיָה אֶת הַמֵּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א יז, כג): וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלִיָּהוּ רְאִי חַי בְּנֵךְ. וּלְמֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ יִלְבּוֹשׁ לְבוּשׁוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים כא, ו): הוֹד וְהָדָר תְּשַׁוֶּה עָלָיו. מַה כְּתִיב (תהלים מז, ו): עָלָה אֱלֹהִים בִּתְרוּעָה ה' בְּקוֹל שׁוֹפָר, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה מֶלֶךְ עֲשִׂיתִיךָ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג, ה): וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ, מַה מֶּלֶךְ כְּשֶׁהוּא יוֹצֵא תּוֹקְעִין לְפָנָיו אַף אַתָּה עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף, כְּשֶׁתַּכְנִיס אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל יִהְיוּ תּוֹקְעִין בָּהֶם וְהֵן מִתְכַּנְסִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר י, ג): וְתָקְעוּ בָּהֵן וְנוֹעֲדוּ אֵלֶיךָ, לְכָךְ עֲשֵׂה לְךָ.

13 (Numb. 10:1–2) “Then the Lord spoke [unto Moses saying, ‘Make two silver trumpets (hatsotserot)’”: This text is related (to Ps. 24:7), “O gates, lift up your heads, [be lifted up, you everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in].” When Solomon was bringing the ark into the Temple, he began to say, “O gates, lift up your heads...,” because the openings were [too] low. [Then] he said, “Be lifted up you everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in.” The gates said to him (in vss. 8 and 10), “Who is this king of glory? The gates immediately wanted to break his head [and would have done so,] if he had not said (in vs. 10), “The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” Again he said (in vs. 8), “The Lord strong and mighty [...].” He said to them, “Expand yourselves, for the King of glory is coming upon you. They immediately showed Him honor (kavod), and raised themselves up.19Lam. R. 2:9 (13). So the ark entered. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, “You have shown Me honor. Upon your lives, when I destroy My house, no one will prevail against you.” You know that all the implements of the Temple went into exile in Babylon as stated (in Dan. 1:2), “Then the Lord gave King Jehoiakim of Judah into his hand, with some of the implements from the house of God; [and he brought them to the land of Shinar].” But the Temple gates were hidden in their place, as stated (in Lam. 2:9), “Her gates have sunk into the ground.” What is the meaning (of Ps. 24:10), “the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah?” That He imparts some of His glory to those who fear Him.20 See PRK 32:9 (= Suppl. 1:9); M. Pss. 90:1. How? He is called "God" (elohim, a term denoting a power), and he called Moses "elohim," as stated (in Exod. 7:1), “See I have set you as elohim to Pharaoh.” He (the Holy One, blessed be He,) causes the dead to live, and he imparted some of His glory to Elijah. Thus he (i.e., Elijah) caused the dead to live, as stated (in I Kings 17:23), “and Elijah said, ‘See your son is alive.’” And He put His own clothing on the messianic king, as stated (in Ps. 21:6), “honor and majesty You shall lay upon him.” What is written [about the Holy One, blessed be He], (in Ps. 47:6)? “God has ascended amid acclamation; the Lord with the sound of a horn (shofar).” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, “I have made you a king. It is so stated (in Deut. 33:5), ‘Then he became king in Jeshurun.’ Just as when the king goes forth, they sound trumpets before him, so also for you, (in Numb. 10:2:), ‘Make for yourself two silver trumpets.’ [This is] so that will they sound the trumpets before you when you take out and bring in Israel, as stated (Numb.10:3), ‘And they shall blow them and the whole community shall assemble before you.’” Hence (Numb. 10:2:), “Make for yourself [two silver trumpets].”

14 יד

דָּבָר אַחֵר, עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (משלי כד, כא): יְרָא אֶת ה' בְּנִי וָמֶלֶךְ, מַהוּ וָמֶלֶךְ, הַמְלִיכֵהוּ עָלֶיךָ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, וָמֶלֶךְ, הַמְלֵךְ יֵצֶר טוֹב עַל יֵצֶר הָרָע שֶׁנִּקְרָא מֶלֶךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ט, יד): וּבָא אֵלֶיהָ מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל וְסָבַב אֹתָהּ. דָּבָר אַחֵר וָמֶלֶךְ, יָכוֹל אִם יֹאמַר לְךָ הַמֶּלֶךְ לֵךְ עֲבֹד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁתִּשְׁמַע לוֹ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר: יְרָא אֶת ה', כָּךְ מָצִינוּ לִנְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר שֶׁאָמַר לַחֲנַנְיָה מִישָׁאֵל וַעֲזַרְיָה לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ לוֹ, אָמְרוּ לוֹ (דניאל ג, יח): לֵאלָהָךְ לָא אִיתַנָא פָלְחִין וּלְצֶלֶם דַּהֲבָא דִּי הֲקֵימְתָּ לָא נִסְגֻּד. אָמַר לָהֶם נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר (דניאל ג, יד): הַצְדָּא שַׁדְּרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ, אָנְטוֹס, אֶתְמוֹל אַתֶּם אוֹמְרִים כָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ לִקַּח לוֹ עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ לִירוּשָׁלַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה י, י): וּפְסִילֵיהֶם מִיְרוּשָׁלָיִם וּמִשֹּׁמְרוֹן, וְעַכְשָׁיו בָּאתֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁלִּי צָדוּ, הַצְדָּא שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ, לֹא כָךְ אָמַר לָכֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁתִּשְׁמְעוּ לַמַּלְכוּת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת לָכֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ח, ב): אֲנִי פִּי מֶלֶךְ שְׁמֹר וְעַל דִּבְרַת שְׁבוּעַת אֱלֹהִים, אָמְרוּ לוֹ מֶלֶךְ אַתָּה עָלֵינוּ לְמִסִּים וּלְאַרְנוֹנִיּוֹת, אֲבָל לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר אַתְּ וְכֶלֶב שָׁוִים. (דניאל ג, טז): עֲנוֹ שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ וְאָמְרִין לְמַלְכָּא נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר, לֹא אָמְרוּ אֶלָּא נְבוּכַדְנֶצַר, (דניאל ג, טז יז): לָא חַשְׁחִין אֲנַחְנָא עַל דְּנָה פִּתְגָם לַהֲתָבוּתָךְ, הֵן אִיתַי אֱלָהַנָא דִּי אֲנַחְנָא פָלְחִין, וּמִן יְדָךְ מַלְכָּא יְשֵׁיזִב (דניאל ג, יח): וְהֵן לָא, אָמְרוּ לוֹ, בֵּין מַצִּיל וּבֵין שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַצִּיל (דניאל ג, יח): יְדִיעַ לֶהֱוֵא לָךְ מַלְכָּא דִּי לֵאלָהָךְ לָא אִיתַנָא פָלְחִין, הֱוֵי יְרָא אֶת ה' בְּנִי וָמֶלֶךְ. (משלי כד, כא): עִם שׁוֹנִים אַל תִּתְעָרָב, וְעִם אוֹתָן שֶׁאוֹמְרִים שֶׁהֵן שְׁנֵי אֱלוֹהוּת בָּעוֹלָם אַל תִּתְעָרָב לָהֶן, שֶׁסּוֹפָן לֵאָבֵד מִן הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (זכריה יג, ח): וְהָיָה בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ נְאֻם ה' פִּי שְׁנַיִם בָּהּ יִכָּרְתוּ יִגְוָעוּ וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁית יִוָּתֶר בָּהּ. וּמָה הֵן הַשְּׁלִישִׁית, אֵלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל (ישעיה יט, כד): בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁלִישִׁיָה וגו' בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ, הֱוֵי יְרָא אֶת ה' בְּנִי וָמֶלֶךְ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁהוּא יָרֵא מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא סוֹפוֹ לֵעָשׂוֹת מֶלֶךְ, מִמִּי אַתָּה לָמֵד מֵאַבְרָהָם, עַל יְדֵי שֶׁנִּתְיָרֵא מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נַעֲשָׂה מֶלֶךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית כב, יב): כִּי עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה, וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה מֶלֶךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יד, יז): אֶל עֵמֶק שָׁוֵה הוּא עֵמֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ, מַהוּ שָׁוֵה, עֵמֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ, שֶׁהִשְׁווּ הַכֹּל וְנָטְלוּ עֵצָה וְקָצְצוּ אֲרָזִים וְעָשׂוּ כִּסֵּא וְהוֹשִׁיבוּהוּ מֶלֶךְ עֲלֵיהֶם. וְלֹא תֹאמַר אַבְרָהָם בִּלְבָד אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ משֶׁה שֶׁנִּתְיָרֵא מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נַעֲשָׂה מֶלֶךְ, לְכָךְ כְּתִיב: יְרָא אֶת ה' בְּנִי וָמֶלֶךְ.

14 Another interpretation (of Numb. 10:2), “Make for yourself two silver trumpets”: This text is related (to Prov. 24:21), “Fear the Lord, my child, and the king.” But what is the meaning of “and the king?” Simply [this, to] make Him (i.e., the Holy One, blessed be He,) king over you. Another interpretation (of Prov. 24:21), “and the king”: Crown the positive drive over the evil drive, which is called a king, where it is stated (in Eccl. 9:14), “[There was a little city with few people in it,] and a great king came against it […].”21Cf. see above Gen. R. 11:1; 23:2; also Eccl. R. 4:13:1; 9:14:6, 9. Another interpretation (of Prov. 24:21), “and the king”: Lest it be supposed that if the king says to you, “Worship an idol,” you should heed him; the text reads (in Prov. 24:21), “Fear the Lord, my child, and the king.” Thus [when] Nebuchadnezzar told Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to worship an idol, they did not heed him. Instead they said to him (in Dan. 3:18), “We will not serve your gods, nor will we pay homage to the image of gold which you have set up.” Nebuchadnezzar said to them (in Dan. 3:14), “’Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?’ Yesterday you were saying [that] anyone who was seeking to acquire idolatry should go to Jerusalem, as stated (Isaiah 10:10), ‘and their idols were from Jerusalem and from Samaria,’ and now you have come to make my idolatry, emptiness?” “’Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?’ Did not the Holy One, blessed be He, say this to you that you should obey royalty in whatever it tells you, where it is stated (in Eccl. 8:2), ‘I [say], “Keep the king's command?”’” They said to him, “You are king over us for taxes and crop levies;22Lat.: annona. but in regard to the service of idols, Nebuchadnezzar and a dog [have] equal [authority].” (Dan. 3:16-17:) “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to answer you in this [matter]. If our God whom we serve [is able to save us, He] shall save us [from the burning fiery furnace and] from your hand O king.’” [He answered, “And if not?” They said to him, “Whether He delivers us or whether He does not deliver us (in vs. 18), ‘be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods nor pay homage to the image of gold which you have set up.’” Ergo (in Prov. 24:21), “Fear the Lord, my child, and the king.” (Prov. 24:21, cont.) “And do not associate with those who would differ” – but do not associate with those who say that there are two gods in the world, for the end of [such people] is to perish from the world. It is so stated (in Zech. 13:8), “And it shall come to pass throughout all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds [in it] shall be cut off [and die], but one-third shall remain in it.” And who is the one-third? This is Israel as stated (in Is. 19:24), “And on that day Israel shall be a third [partner with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth].” Ergo (in Prov. 24:21), “Fear the Lord, my child, and the king.” Whoever is in fear of the Holy One, blessed be He, becomes a king. From whom did you learn [that]? From Abraham because he was in fear of the Holy One, blessed be He, and became a king. Thus it is stated (in Gen. 22:12), “for now I know that you fear God.” But where is it shown that he became a king? It is written (in Gen. 14:17), “[And the king of Sodom came out to meet him …] at the Valley of Shaveh, i.e., the valley of the king.” What is the meaning of the Valley of Shaveh (rt.: shwh?] That they all became equal (rt.: shwh). So taking counsel (or taking wood),23Etsah. The word can mean either “counsel” or “wood.” they cut cedars, made a throne, and set him over them as king. And you should not say [this] only [in the case of] Abraham alone. In the case of Moses [also] he became king, because he was in fear of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore it is written (in Prov. 24:21), “Fear the Lord, my child, and the king.”sup>24Thus the king of whom Prov. 24:21 demands obedience, is a king who fears the Holy One like Abraham or Moses.

15 טו

עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ תּוֹקְעִין לְפָנֶיךָ כְּמֶלֶךְ. עֲשֵׂה לְךָ, מִשֶּׁלְּךָ. עֲשֵׂה לְךָ, לְךָ אַתָּה עוֹשֶׂה וְלֹא לְאַחֵר, אַתָּה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן וְאֵין אַחֵר מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן, תֵּדַע לְךָ שֶׁהֲרֵי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ תַּלְמִידוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה לֹא נִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן אֶלָּא בַּשּׁוֹפָרוֹת, כְּשֶׁבָּא לְהִלָּחֵם בִּירִיחוֹ נִתְכַּנְסוּ לִירִיחוֹ שֶׁבַע אֻמּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע כד, יא): וַתַּעַבְרוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן וַתָּבֹאוּ אֶל יְרִיחוֹ וַיִּלָּחֲמוּ בָכֶם בַּעֲלֵי יְרִיחוֹ הָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהַגִּרְגָּשִׁי הַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי וָאֶתֵּן אוֹתָם בְּיֶדְכֶם. וְכִי שֶׁבַע אֻמּוֹת הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי יְרִיחוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי יְרִיחוֹ נַגְרָא שֶׁל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אִם נִכְבְּשָׁה יְרִיחוֹ מִיָּד כָּל הָאָרֶץ נִכְבֶּשֶׁת, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְכַּנְּסוּ לְתוֹכָהּ שֶׁבַע אֻמּוֹת, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (יהושע ו, כ): וַיָּרַע הָעָם וַיִּתְקְעוּ בַּשּׁוֹפָרוֹת, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ תַּלְמִידוֹ לֹא נִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶם, וְלֹא תֹאמַר לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ שֶׁעַד שֶׁהוּא חַי בְּעַצְמוֹ נִגְנְזוּ. אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק הֲרֵי שֶׁמּשֶׁה אוֹמֵר כְּשֶׁהוּא בָּא לִפָּטֵר מִן הָעוֹלָם (דברים לא, כח): הַקְהִילוּ אֵלַי אֶת כָּל זִקְנֵי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם, וְהֵיכָן הָיוּ הַחֲצוֹצְרוֹת לִתְקֹעַ בָהֶן וּלְכַנְּסָן, אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁהוּא בַּחַיִּים נִגְנְזוּ. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ דְּסִכְנִין בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי לֵוִי לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ח, ח): וְאֵין שִׁלְטוֹן בְּיוֹם הַמָּוֶת, הֱוֵי עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף, לְךָ אַתְּ עוֹשֶׂה וְאֵין אַחֵר מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן כָּל יָמֶיךָ.

15 (Numb. 10:2) “Make two silver trumpets.”:25The context of the passage concerns the sounding of an alarm in time of war. That they should blow the trumpets in front of you like a king. (Numb. 10:2 translated literally:) “Make for yourself (lekha),” [i.e.,] at your own expense (literally: from what belongs to you [lekha]). (Ibid.:) “Make for yourself.” For yourself you shall make [them] and not for others. You are to use them, and no one else is to use them. You yourself know that in the case of his disciple Joshua, he did not use those [trumpets] but horns (shofars). When they came to fight against Jericho, there gathered in Jericho seven peoples. It is so stated (in Josh. 14:11), “When you crossed the Jordan and came unto Jericho, the citizens of Jericho, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites fought against you, and I delivered them into your hands.” Did seven peoples make up the citizens of Jericho? R. Samuel bar Nahmani said, “Jericho was the door bolt [for unlocking] the land of Israel. They said, ‘If Jericho is conquered, the whole land will be conquered immediately.’ For that reason seven peoples gathered within it.” What is written (in Josh. 6:20)? “So the people shouted when [the priests] blew on the horns.” [This] teaches that even though Joshua was [Moses'] disciple, he did not use them (i.e. the silver trumpets). Moreover you should not say [this only] about Joshua but even [about] our master Moses, [in that the trumpets] were hidden while he was [still] alive. R. Isaac said, “Note that when Moses was going to depart this world, he said (in Deut. 31:28), ‘Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes [and your officials].’ But where were the trumpets, to blow on them for [those people] to gather.’ It is simply that [it was already] while he was [still] alive that they were hidden.” R. Joshua of Sikhnin said in the name of R. Levi, “It was to fulfill what was said (in Eccl. 8:8), ‘nor is there control on the day of death….’” Ergo (in Numb. 10:2), “Make for yourself....” Make it for yourself, but no one else shall use them all the days of your life.

16 טז

עֲשֵׂה לְךָ. אַתָּה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן שֶׁאַתָּה מֶלֶךְ וְאֵין אַחֵר מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶן, אֶלָּא דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר [עפ"י (דברי הימים ב כט, כו כח)]: וַיַּעַמְדוּ הַלְוִיִּם, עַל עָמְדָם, וְהַשִּׁיר מְשׁוֹרֵר וְהַחֲצֹצְרוֹת מַחְצְרִים. אָמַר רַב הַחֲצוֹצְרוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ אַף הֵן נִגְנְזוּ, אֲבָל דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ הָיָה מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּכִנּוֹר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים נז, ט): עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי עוּרָה הַנֵּבֶל וְכִנּוֹר אָעִירָה שָׁחַר. אָמַר רַבִּי פִּנְחָס הַכֹּהֵן בַּר חָמָא, כִּנּוֹר הָיָה תָּלוּי לְמַעְלָה מִמִּטָּתוֹ שֶׁל דָּוִד, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה רוּחַ צְפוֹנִית מְנַשֶּׁבֶת בּוֹ וּמְנַגֵּן מֵאֵלָיו, מִיָּד הָיָה עוֹמֵד דָּוִד וְכָל הַתַּלְמִידִים שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹסְקִין בַּתּוֹרָה וְהָיוּ יְגֵעִים וּמְנַדְּדִים שֵׁנָה מֵעֵינֵיהֶם וְהוֹגִין בַּתּוֹרָה עַד עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר, לְפִיכָךְ הָיָה אוֹמֵר דָּוִד עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי עוּרָה הַנֵּבֶל וְכִנּוֹר אָעִירָה שָׁחַר, דֶּרֶךְ הַשַּׁחַר מְעוֹרֵר בְּנֵי אָדָם, אֲבָל אֲנִי אָעִירָה שָׁחַר, אֲנִי מְעוֹרֵר הַשָּׁחַר. דָּבָר אַחֵר, עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי, מַהוּ עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי, מִפְּנֵי עֲבוֹדַת יוֹצְרִי, שֶׁהָיָה יִצְרוֹ אוֹמֵר לוֹ דָּוִד לֹא מֶלֶךְ אַתָּה וְדֶרֶךְ מְלָכִים לִישֹׁן עַד שָׁלשׁ שָׁעוֹת בַּיּוֹם, וְאַתָּה לָמֵד וְעוֹמֵד חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה. וְהָיָה אוֹמֵר לוֹ עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי, אֵין כְּבוֹדִי לִפְנֵי כְּבוֹד יוֹצְרִי כְּלוּם, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי. (תהלים קיט, סב): חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה אָקוּם לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ, אָמַר דָוִד חַיָּב אֲנִי לַעֲמֹד בַּחֲצִי לַיְלָה וּלְקַלֶּסְךָ עַל פְּלָאוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִם זְקֶנְתִּי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה, דִּכְתִיב (רות ג, ח ט): וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה וַיֶּחֱרַד הָאִישׁ וַיִּלָּפֵת, וַתֹּאמֶר אָנֹכִי רוּת אֲמָתֶךָ, וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ (רות ג, יג): לִינִי הַלַּיְלָה, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי בְּרַבִּי שָׁלוֹם אָמְרָה לוֹ בִּדְבָרִים אַתָּה מוֹצִיאֵנִי, אָמַר לָהּ (רות ג, יג): חַי ה' אֵינִי מוֹצִיאֵךְ בִּדְבָרִים. חַי ה', מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעַ עַל יִצְרוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מְקַטְרְגוֹ וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ אַתְּ פָּנוּי וְהִיא פְּנוּיָה, הֲרֵי הַשָּׁעָה שֶׁתִּזְדַּקֵּק לָהּ, מִיָּד נִשְׁבַּע אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק חַי ה', אֵינִי נוֹגֵעַ בָּהּ בָּזוֹ. וְלֹא בּוֹעַז לְבַדּוֹ אֶלָּא כָּל הַצַּדִּיקִים מַשְׁבִּיעִים עַל יִצְרָן, וְכֵן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא בְּדָוִד שֶׁנָּפַל שָׁאוּל בְּיָדוֹ, מָה אָמַר דָּוִד (שמואל א כו, י): וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד חַי ה' כִּי אִם ה' יִגֳּפֶנּוּ אוֹ יוֹמוֹ יָבוֹא וגו', וְלָמָּה נִשְׁבַּע שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים, אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי הָיָה בָּא יִצְרוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ אִלּוּ נָפַלְתָּ אַתָּה בְּיָדוֹ לֹא הָיָה מְרַחֵם עָלֶיךָ וְהֹרֶגְךָ, מִן הַתּוֹרָה מֻתָּר לְהָרְגוֹ, בָּא לְהָרְגְּךָ הַשְׁכֵּם לְהָרְגוֹ, שֶׁהֲרֵי רוֹדֵף הוּא. לְפִיכָךְ קָפַץ וְנִשְׁבַּע שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים חַי ה', שֶׁאֵינוֹ הוֹרְגוֹ. אָמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ כֹּחוֹ שֶׁל יֵצֶר הָרָע שֶׁהוּא קָשֶׁה, אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא סִיקְלוּ אוֹתוֹ קִמְעָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וַאֲנִי מַעֲבִירוֹ מִכֶּם לֶעָתִיד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה סב, י): סֹלּוּ סֹלּוּ הַמְסִלָּה סַקְּלוּ מֵאֶבֶן הָרִימוּ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ישעיה נז, יד): וְאָמַר סֹלּוּ סֹלּוּ פַּנּוּ דָרֶךְ הָרִימוּ מִכְשׁוֹל מִדֶּרֶךְ עַמִּי. וְלָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֲנִי עוֹקְרוֹ מִכֶּם (יחזקאל לו, כו): וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת לֵב הָאֶבֶן מִבְּשַׂרְכֶם וְנָתַתִּי וגו'.

16 Another interpretation (of Numb. 10:2), “Make for yourself”: You are to use them because you are a king, but another is not to use them except King David, as stated (in II Chron. 29:26, 28), “And the Levites stood… the song was sung and the trumpets were blown.” Rav said, “The trumpets that were in the sanctuary were also hidden, but King David used the harp, as stated (in Ps. 57:9), ‘Awake, my glory; awake, O lyre and harp.’” R. Pinchas bar Hama the Priest said, “A harp was hanging above David's bed.26yBer. 1:1 (2d); Ber. 3:b; PRK 7:4; PR 17:3; M. Pss. 22:8; Ruth R. 6:1; Lam. R. 2:19 (22). When midnight arrived, a north wind would blow strongly on it, and it would play of its own accord. Immediately David and the students would arise to occupy themselves with the Torah; and driving sleep from their eyes, they would meditate on the Torah until the dawn arose. Therefore, David said (ibid.), ‘Awake, my glory.’ It is customary for the dawn to awaken the people, but (ibid. cont.) ‘I will awaken the dawn.’” Another interpretation (of Ps. 57:9), “Awake my, glory”: What is the meaning of “my glory?” [My glory is] due to the service of my Creator. For the [evil] drive would say to him, “David, are you not a king? It is customary for kings to arise at three hours into the day; so why are you arising at midnight?” Then [David] said to it, “Empty is my glory. My glory is nothing before the glory of my Creator.” It is therefore stated, “Awake my glory (words which can also be rendered: empty is ['urah] my glory.”27The form ‘urah can be either a simple imperative (AWAKE) from the root ‘WR or a past intensive passive (WAS EMPTY) from the root ‘RH. (Ps. 119:62:) “At midnight I will arise to praise You.” David said, “It is my duty to arise at midnight and to praise You for the wonders that You have done with my ancestor (Ruth) at midnight.” It is so stated (in Ruth 3:8–9), “Now it came to pass at midnight that the man was startled, [so he turned aside, and here was a woman lying at his feet. Then he said, ‘Who are you?’] And she said, ‘I am your handmaid Ruth.’” And he said to her, “Lodge for the night.” R. Joshuah ben Levi beRabbi Shalom said, “She said to him, ‘Are you sending me away with [mere] words?’ He said to her (Ruth 3:13) ‘”As the Lord lives,” I am not sending you away with [mere] words.’” (Ruth 3:13:) “As the Lord lives”: [This oath] teaches that he had imposed an oath on his [evil] drive, which was inciting him by saying to him, “You are an unmarried man and she is an unmarried woman. Now is the opportunity that you require.” Immediately this righteous man swore, “As the Lord lives, I am not touching her [tonight].” And not only Boaz, but all the righteous impose an oath on their [evil] drive. Thus you find it so with David, for when Saul fell into his hands, what did David say (in I Sam. 26:10)? “And David said, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall smite him; either he will die when his day comes [or he will go down and perish in battle; the Lord forbid that I lay my hand on the Lord's anointed].’” Why did he swear two times? R. Samuel bar Nahman said, “His [evil] drive came and said to him, ‘If you had fallen into his hand, he would have shown you no mercy and killed you. [Moreover] according to the Torah it is permissible to kill him – one who comes to kill you, rise up and kill him – since here he is pursuing [you].’ He therefore hastened to swear two times, ‘As the Lord lives, I will not kill him.’” Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Master of the universe, You know the power of the evil drive, how strong it is.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, “Remove it a little in this world, and I will take it away from you in the future.” Thus it is stated (in Is. 62:10), “build up, complete the highway28The biblical text renders, BUILD UP, BUILD UP THE HIGHWAY. [take away some stone (i.e. the evil drive)]!” It also says (in Is. 57:14), “Build up, build up; clear out a way; remove an obstacle (i.e. the evil drive) from the way of my people!” Then in the world to come I will root it out of you, as stated (in Ezek. 36:26), “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh.”

17 יז

כָּךְ דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא: וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל משֶׁה אֶסְפָה לִּי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (במדבר יא, טז), הֲלָכָה, בְּתוֹךְ כַּמָּה אַמּוֹת חַיָּב אָדָם לַעֲמֹד מִפְּנֵי הַזָּקֵן. כָּךְ שָׁנוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ בְּתוֹךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת חַיָּב אָדָם לַעֲמֹד בִּפְנֵי הַזָּקֵן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט, לב): מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם, וְשׁוֹאֵל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ בְּתוֹךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. וְאֵיזֶה הִדּוּר, אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה (ויקרא יט, לב): וְהָדַרְתָּ, שֶׁלֹא יַעֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹמוֹ, וְלֹא יֵשֵׁב בִּמְקוֹמוֹ, וְלֹא יְהֵא סוֹתֵר אֶת דְּבָרָיו, וּכְשֶׁהוּא שׁוֹאֵל הֲלָכָה שׁוֹאֵל בְּיִרְאָה, וְלֹא יִקְפֹּץ לְהָשִׁיב, וְלֹא יְהֵא נִכְנָס בְּתוֹךְ דְּבָרָיו, שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג בְּרַבּוֹ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ נִקְרָא רָשָׁע לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם, וְתַלְמוּדוֹ מִשְׁתַּכַּח, וּשְׁנוֹתָיו מִתְקַצְּרוֹת, וּלְסוֹף הוּא בָּא לִידֵי עֲנִיּוּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ח, יג): וְטוֹב לֹא יִהְיֶה לָרָשָׁע וְלֹא יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים כַּצֵּל אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ יָרֵא מִלִּפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים, מוֹרָא זוֹ אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ מַהוּ, כְּשֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר: מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְיָרֵאתָ מֵאֱלֹהֶיךָ, הֱוֵי זֶה מוֹרָאַת הָרַב, אִם כֵּן הֲרֵי מוֹרָאַת רִבִּית וּמוֹרָאַת מִשְׁקָלוֹת, אֶלָּא אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר נֶאֱמַר כָּאן (ויקרא יט, לב): פְּנֵי זָקֵן, וְנֶאֱמַר לְהַלָּן אֵינֶנּוּ יָרֵא מִלִּפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים. וְחַיָּב לְהַקְדִּימוֹ לְכָל אָדָם בִּכְנִיסָה וּבִיצִיאָה, וְלִנְהֹג בּוֹ מוֹרָא וְכָבוֹד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ו, יג): אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא, וְתַנְיָא אֶת לְרַבּוֹת בַּעֲלֵי תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה אַחֶרֶת כַּיּוֹצֵא בָהּ, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים א, טו): וָאֶתֵּן אוֹתָם רָאשִׁים עֲלֵיכֶם, מִיכָּן אַתְּ לָמֵד שֶׁתִּנְהֹג בּוֹ מִנְהַג נְשִׂיאוּת, לַעֲמֹד מִפָּנָיו, לְהַקְדִּימוֹ לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁבִּגְדֻלָּה. אָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּא הַכֹּהֵן בַּר פַּפָּא כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי רוֹאֶה סִיעָה שֶׁל בְּנֵי אָדָם הָיִיתִי הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ אַחֶרֶת שֶׁלֹא לְהַטְרִיחַ עֲלֵיהֶן, שֶׁלֹא יִהְיוּ רוֹאִין וְעוֹמְדִים מִלְּפָנַי, וּכְשֶׁאָמַרְתִּי דְּבָרִים לִפְנֵי רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן רַבִּי זְבִידָא, אָמַר לִי צָרִיךְ אַתָּה לַעֲבֹר לִפְנֵיהֶם וְיִהְיוּ רוֹאִין אוֹתְךָ וְעוֹמְדִים לְפָנֶיךָ וְאַתְּ מְבִיאָם לִידֵי יִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט, לב): מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְיָרֵאתָ מֵאֱלֹהֶיךָ, לָמָּה, שֶׁמַּעֲלָתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים מַעֲלָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ יְרִידָה, אֲבָל מַעֲלָתוֹ שֶׁל עֵשָׂו מַעֲלָה שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ יְרִידָה הִיא, הַיּוֹם הוּא אִפַּרְכוֹס, לְמָחָר סָגָן, לְמָחָר קוֹמוֹס, לְמָחָר סַרְדְּיוֹט, וְכֵן כָּל גְּדוֹלֵיהֶם. וְכֵן הַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר (עובדיה א, ד): אִם תַּגְבִּיהַּ כַּנֶּשֶׁר. אֲבָל מַעֲלָתוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב מַעֲלָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ יְרִידָה, וְאֵין קְדֻשָּׁתָם נוֹפֶלֶת לְעוֹלָם. וְכֵן אַתָּה מוֹצֵא שֶׁהַזְּקֵנִים אֶחָד מִשְּׁלשָׁה עָשָׂר דְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן כְּתוּבִין לִשְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אֵלּוּ הֵן: הַכֶּסֶף וְהַזָּהָב, הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַבְּכוֹרוֹת וְהַמִּזְבֵּחַ וּתְרוּמָה וְשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וְאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּמַלְכוּת בֵּית דָּוִד וְהַקָּרְבָּנוֹת וְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַזְּקֵנִים, הַכֶּסֶף וְהַזָּהָב מִנַּיִן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (חגי ב, ח): לִי הַכֶּסֶף וְלִי הַזָּהָב. הַכֹּהֲנִים, דִּכְתִיב (שמות כט, א): וְזֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה לָהֶם לְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתָם לְכַהֵן לִי. הַלְוִיִּם מִנַּיִן (במדבר ג, יב): וְהָיוּ לִי הַלְוִיִּם. יִשְׂרָאֵל מִנַּיִן (ויקרא כה, נה): כִּי לִי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. בְּכוֹרוֹת מִנַּיִן (במדבר ח, יז): כִּי לִי כָל בְּכוֹר. הַמִּזְבֵּחַ מִנַּיִן (שמות כ, כא): מִזְבַּח אֲדָמָה תַּעֲשֶׂה לִי. תְּרוּמָה מִנַּיִן (שמות כה, ב): וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה. שֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה מִנַּיִן (שמות ל, לא): שֶׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה זֶה לִי. אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִנַּיִן (שמות כה, ח): וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ. הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת מִנַּיִן (במדבר כח, ב): אֶת קָרְבָּנִי לַחְמִי לְאִשַּׁי. מַלְכוּת בֵּית דָּוִד מִנַּיִן (שמואל א טז, א): כִּי רָאִיתִי בְּבָנָיו לִי מֶלֶךְ. אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִנַּיִן (ויקרא כה, כג): כִּי לִי הָאָרֶץ. הַזְּקֵנִים מִנַּיִן (במדבר יא, טז): אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ.

17 Thus has R. Tanhuma bar Abba interpreted. (Numb. 11:16) “Then the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Gather Me seventy men from the elders of Israel….” A legal teaching: Within how many cubits is one obligated to stand up in the presence of an elder? Thus have our masters taught: Within four cubits one is obligated to stand up in the presence of an elder.29Qid 33b; cf also yBik. 3:3 (65c). Thus it is stated (in Lev. 19:32), “You shall rise in the presence of30To be in one’s presence is to be within four cubits. a gray head [...].” One also asks after his welfare [when] within four cubits. And about which honor did the Torah say (ibid. cont.), “you shall honor the presence of an elder?” That one should not stand in his place or sit in his place or contradict his words. Also when one asks [about] a law (halakhah), one should ask with reverence and not rush to respond or interrupt his words. Whoever does not behave toward his teacher (rav) according to all these rules is labeled a wicked person before the Omnipresent, his learning is forgotten, his years are shortened, and in the end he comes to poverty, as stated (in Eccl. 8:13), “It shall not go well with the wicked one, nor shall he prolong his days; [they are] like a shadow, because he is not in fear before God.” In regard to this fear I do not know [exactly] what it is; [but] when it says (in Lev. 19:32), “You shall rise in the presence of a gray head, [you shall honor the presence of an elder,] and you shall fear your God,” note that it is [really] saying, this is the fear of [students toward] sages.31Since GRAY HEAD and ELDER are understood to refer to the sages. [But I might say that this is a fear of] usury and of [false] weights, as fear is stated about them [also].32In Lev. 25:36; 19:36. So why say that it refers to a sage? It is simply that R. Elazar has said, “It is stated here, ‘[you shall honor] the presence (pny) of the elder, and you shall fear your God’; while it is stated in the other passage (in Eccl. 8:13), ‘he is not in fear before (pny) God.’” Hence, one is obligated to greet him before everyone when entering and leaving and to treat him with fear and honor. It is so stated (in Deut. 6:13), “You shall fear (et)33This word generally denotes that what follows is a direct object but at times the word means “along with.” In this latter sense the et implies that one should honor someone along with the Lord your God. For an example of et indicating further inclusions, see Tanh. (Buber) Gen. 1:8. the Lord your God.” And we have learned, “[The et must refer] to [fear of] the master scholars of Torah since you have no other trait like it.” And so it says (in Deut. 1:15), “[So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and well-known people,] and appointed them heads over you.” From here you learn that you should treat him in a princely manner, [i.e.,] stand in his presence, and give him precedence in every matter of dignity. R. Abba bar Pappa the Priest said, “When I would see a certain group of people, I would walk by another route so as not to be a bother for them, lest they see me and stand for me. [However] when I told of the matter to R. Jose ben R. Zevida, he said to me, ‘You must pass before them, so that they will see you and stand in your presence. Then you will bring them to the point of fearing Heaven, as stated (in Lev. 19:32), “You shall rise in the presence of a gray head, [you shall honor the presence of an elder,] and you shall fear your God.”’” Why? Because the rise of the righteous is a rise in which there is no decline. But the rise of Esau34Esau stands for any Roman. the wicked is a rise which is wholly decline. Today he is a governor;35Gk.: eparchos. tomorrow an assistant [governor]; the next day a captain.36Gk.: stratiotes (“citizen soldier”). And thus it is with all their great ones. So also the prophet says (in Obad. 1:4), “Though you make your abode as high as the eagle, [and though your nest is set among the stars, I will bring you down from there].” The rise of Jacob, however, is a rise which has no decline, and their holiness is never desecrated. And so you find that the elders are one of thirteen things which are written down [as belonging] to the name of the Holy One, blessed be He. These [thirteen] are the following: (1) The silver and gold, (2) the priests, (3) the Levites, (4) Israel, (5) the first-born, (6) the altar, (7) the priestly share, (8) the oil for anointing, (9) the tent of meeting, (10) the Davidic dynasty, (11) the offerings, (12) the Land of Israel, and (13) the elders. Where is it shown in reference to silver and gold? As stated (in Hag. 2:8), “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” Where is it shown in reference to the priests? As stated (in Exod. 29:1), “to sanctify them for serving Me as priests.” Where is it shown in reference to the Levites? As stated (in Numb. 3:12), “and the Levites shall be Mine.” Where is it shown in reference to Israel? As stated (in Lev. 25:55), “For to Me the Children of Israel [are servants].” Where is it shown in reference to the first-born? As stated (in Numb. 3:13 = 8:17), “For all the first-born are Mine.” Where is it shown in reference to the altar? As stated (in Exod. 20:21), “An altar of earth you shall make for Me.” Where is it shown in reference to the priestly share? As stated (in Exod. 25:2), “And let them take for Me a priestly share.” Where is it shown in reference to the oil for anointing? As stated (in Exod. 30:31), “This oil for anointing shall be holy to Me.” Where is it shown in reference to the tent of meeting? As stated (in Exod. 25:8), “And let them make Me a sanctuary.” Where is it shown in reference to offerings? As stated (in Numb. 28:2), “My offering, My bread for My fire offering.”40Note that this reference to offerings and the following reference to the Davidic dynasty are reversed in order from the list given above. Where is it shown in reference to the Davidic dynasty? As stated (in I Sam. 16:1), “for I have chosen a king for Myself among his (i.e. Jesse's) sons.” Where is it shown in reference to the Land [of Israel]? As stated (in Lev. 25:23), “for the land belongs to Me.” Where is it shown in reference to the elders? As stated (in Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men [from the elders of Israel].”

18 יח

אֶסְפָה לִי, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (עמוס ט, ו): הַבּוֹנֶה בַשָּׁמַיִם מַעֲלוֹתָו וַאֲגֻדָּתוֹ עַל אֶרֶץ יְסָדָהּ, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְפָלָטִין שֶׁהָיְתָה בְּנוּיָה עַל גַּבֵּי הַסְּפִינוֹת, כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהַסְּפִינוֹת מְחֻבָּרוֹת פָּלָטִין שֶׁעַל גַּבֵּיהֶן עוֹמֶדֶת, כָּךְ הַבּוֹנֶה בַשָּׁמַיִם מַעֲלוֹתָו, כִּבְיָכוֹל כִּסְאוֹ מְבוּסָם לְמַעְלָה בִּזְמַן שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עֲשׂוּיִן אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: הַבּוֹנֶה בַשָּׁמַיִם מַעֲלוֹתָו, אֵימָתַי וַאֲגֻדָּתוֹ עַל אֶרֶץ יְסָדָהּ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים לג, ה): וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ. לְכָךְ אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה אֶסְפָה לִי, לָמָּה, שֶׁכִּנּוּסָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים הֲנָיָה לָהֶם וַהֲנָיָה לָעוֹלָם, אֲבָל כִּנּוּסָן שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים תְּקָלָה לָהֶם וּתְקָלָה לָעוֹלָם.

18 (Numb. 11:16) “Gather Me seventy men”: This text is related (to Amos. 9:6), “Who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and founds His celestial vault (aguddah) upon earth.” To what is the matter comparable? 37 Sifre to Deut. 33:5 (346). To a palace38Lat.: palatium. that was built upon boat[s]. For as long a time that the boats are connected, the palace that is upon them will stand. Hence, it is stated (in Amos 9:6), “Who builds His upper chambers in the heavens.” When is His throne, as it were, established39Cf. the Gk. noun basis which means “ground” or “pedestal.” above?40See M. Sam. 5. When Israel becomes one society (aguddah). It is therefore stated (ibid.), “Who builds His upper chambers in the heavens.” When? When (ibid. cont.) “He founds His celestial vault (aguddah, which also means society) upon earth.”41Men. 27a. And so it says (in Deut. 33:5), “Then He became King in Jeshurun [when the heads of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together].” Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses (in Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men.” Why? Because a gathering of righteous people is enjoyment for them and enjoyment for the world, but a gathering of wicked people is an offense to them and an offense to the world.

19 יט

דָּבָר אַחֵר, אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה: אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, אָמַר משֶׁה מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה, אִם אָבִיא חֲמִשָּׁה מִכָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט אֵינָם עוֹלִים לְמִנְיַן שִׁבְעִים וְנִמְצְאוּ שִׁשִּׁים, וְאִם אָבִיא שִׁשָּׁה מִשֵּׁבֶט זֶה וַחֲמִשָּׁה מִשֵּׁבֶט זֶה, הֲרֵי אֲנִי מַטִּיל קִנְאָה בֵּין שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט. מֶה עָשָׂה, נָטַל שִׁבְעִים וּשְׁנַיִם פְּתָקִין וְכָתַב בָּהֶן זָקֵן, עוֹד שְׁנַיִם פְּתָקִין חָלָק, וּטְרָפָן בְּקַלְפֵּי, אָמַר בּוֹאוּ וּטְלוּ פְּתָקְכֶם, מִי שֶׁעָלָה בְּיָדוֹ פֶּתֶק כְּתִיב בּוֹ זָקֵן הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁנִּתְמַנֶּה זָקֵן, וְאִם עָלָה בְּיָדוֹ חָלָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁלֹא נִתְמַנָּה, וְהַמְמֻנֶּה אוֹמֵר לוֹ הֲרֵי שָׁם פֶּתֶק אֶחָד כָּתוּב בּוֹ זָקֵן, אִלּוּ הָיִיתָ רָאוּי לְהִתְמַנּוֹת הָיָה עוֹלֶה בְּיָדֶךָ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָשָׂה כָּךְ נִתְמַנּוּ הַזְּקֵנִים. אֶלְדָד וּמֵידָד הָיוּ שָׁם, וּמִעֲטוּ עַצְמָן, אֵין אָנוּ כְּדַי לִהְיוֹת בְּמִנּוּי הַזְּקֵנִים, וְעַל שֶׁמִּעֲטוּ עַצְמָן נִמְצְאוּ יְתֵרִים עַל הַזְּקֵנִים חֲמִשָּׁה דְבָרִים, הַזְּקֵנִים לֹא נִתְנַבְּאוּ אֶלָּא לְמָחָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יא, יח): וְאֶל הָעָם תֹּאמַר הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ לְמָחָר, אֲבָל אֵלּוּ נִתְנַבְּאוּ עַל מַה שֶּׁעָתִיד בְּסוֹף אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יא, כו): וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים בַּמַּחֲנֶה, מָה הָיוּ מִתְנַבְּאִים, יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים עַל מַפַּלְתּוֹ שֶׁל גּוֹג, וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים מֵת משֶׁה וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ מַכְנִיס אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל לָאָרֶץ. תֵּדַע לְךָ, שֶׁכֵּן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר לְמשֶׁה (במדבר יא, כח): וַיַּעַן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן (במדבר יא, כז): וַיָּרָץ הַנַּעַר וַיַּגֵּד לְמשֶׁה, מִי הָיָה זֶה, גֵּרְשׁוֹם בֶּן משֶׁה. הַזְּקֵנִים לֹא נִכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ, אֲבָל אֶלְדָד וּמֵידָד, אֶלְדָד הוּא (במדבר לד, כא): אֱלִידָד בֶּן כִּסְלוֹן, וּמֵידָד זֶה (במדבר לד, כד): קְמוּאֵל בֶּן שִׁפְטָן. הַזְּקֵנִים לֹא נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ שְׁמוֹתָן, הַזְּקֵנִים נִפְסְקָה נְבוּאָתָן, שֶׁהָיָה מִשֶּׁל משֶׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יא, יז): וְאָצַלְתִּי מִן הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיךָ, אֲבָל אֵלּוּ הָיְתָה רוּחַ נְבוּאָתָם מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא (במדבר יא, כו): וַתָּנַח עֲלֵהֶם הָרוּחַ. וְאִם תֹּאמַר הַזְּקֵנִים שֶׁהָיְתָה נְבוּאָתָן מִשֶּׁל משֶׁה שֶׁמָּא חָסֵר משֶׁה בִּנְבוּאָתוֹ כְּלוּם, לָאו. לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לְנֵר שֶׁהָיָה דוֹלֵק וְהִדְלִיקוּ מִמֶּנּוּ כַּמָּה נֵרוֹת וְאוֹר דְּלֵקָתוֹ לֹא חָסֵר, אַף משֶׁה מִשֶּׁלּוֹ לֹא חָסַר כְּלוּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לד, י): וְלֹא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמשֶׁה.

19 Another interpretation (of Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men [from the elders of Israel]”: When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, “Gather Me seventy men,” Moses said, “How shall I manage to get [them] from all the tribes?42 Sifre to Numb. 11:24-26 (95). If I get five each from every tribe, they will not add up to the number seventy. There will [only] be sixty. And if we get six each from every tribe, they will add up to the number seventy-two. But if I get five from one tribe and six from another, I shall be imposing jealousy among the tribes.” What did Moses do? He took seventy-two pieces of paper and wrote “elder” on them plus two other blank pieces of paper. Then he mixed them up and put them in the urn. He said to them, “Come and take your papers.” If a paper with ‘elder’ written on it came up in [a person's] hand he knew that he had been appointed an elder, but if a blank one came up in his hand he knew that he had not been appointed. Then the officer-in-charge would say to him, “Look there is another paper there with ‘elder’ written upon it. If you had been worthy of being appointed, [a paper with ‘elder’] would have come up in your hand.” When [Moses had followed this procedure] the elders were appointed. Eldad and Medad were there, but they excluded themselves. [They said,] “We are not worthy to be in the number of the elders.” Now because they excluded themselves, they were found [to have become] superior to the elders in five respects. The elders only prophesied for the morrow as stated (in Numb. 11:18), “And you shall say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves for the morrow,’” but these men prophesied what was going to happen at the end of forty years as stated (in Numb. 11:26), “But two men had remained in the camp; [the name of the one was Eldad and the name of the other was Medad…; and they were…] prophesying in the camp.” But what were they prophesying? Some say [they were prophesying] about the downfall of Gog, while others say [they were prophesying that] Moses would die and Joshua would bring Israel into the Land. You yourself know that they so prophesied, since it is what Joshua told Moses (in vs. 28), “Then Joshua ben Nun, Moses' attendant from his youth, answered.” And it is written (in vs. 27), “But a lad ran and told Moses.” And who was it? It was Moses' son, Gershom. The elders did not enter the land, but these did enter the land. Eldad is [so listed] (in Numb. 34:21) [as] Elidad ben Chislon. Medad is [so listed] (in Numb. 34:24) [as] Kemuel ben Shiphtan. The elders were not designated by their names, [but these were designated by their names]. The elders had their prophecy cease, since their prophecy was from what belonged to Moses, even as the Scripture has said (in Numb. 11:17), “and I will set aside some of the spirit which is upon you and put it on them”; but these [two] had their prophecy from that which belonged to the Holy One, blessed be He, as stated (in Numb. 11:26), “and the spirit rested upon them.” Now if you say, “Since the elders had their prophecy from what belonged to Moses, might it not have lessened his prophecy somewhat?” [The answer is] no. To what may Moses be compared? To a lamp which was lit and43Sifre to Numb. 11:17 (93). everyone lights up from it; yet its light is in no way diminished. So also in the case of Moses. Although the prophets took of his prophecy, the prophecy of Moses was in no way diminished. [It is so stated] (in Deut. 34:10), “And never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses.”

20 כ

אֶסְפָה לִי, וְכִי לֹא הָיוּ זְקֵנִים לְשֶׁעָבַר, וַהֲלוֹא כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר בְּמִצְרַיִם (שמות ג, טז): לֵךְ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי מָה אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָמַר פַּרְעֹה (שמות א, י יא): הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ, וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים, קִבֵּץ אֶת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַר לָהֶם בְּבַקָּשָׁה מִכֶּם עֲשׂוּ עִמִּי הַיּוֹם בְּטוֹבָה, הַיְנוּ דִכְתִיב (שמות א, יג): וַיַּעֲבִדוּ מִצְרַיִם אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּפָרֶךְ, בְּפֶה רַךְ, נָטַל סַל וּמַגְרֵפָה, מִי הָיָה רוֹאֶה אֶת פַּרְעֹה נוֹטֵל סַל וּמַגְרֵפָה וְעוֹשֶׂה בִּלְבֵנִים וְלֹא הָיָה עוֹשֶׂה, מִיָּד הָלְכוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּזְרִיזוּת וְעָשׂוּ עִמּוֹ בְּכָל כֹּחָן, לְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי כֹּחַ וְגִבּוֹרִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁחֲשֵׁכָה הֶעֱמִיד עֲלֵיהֶם נוֹגְשִׂים וְאָמַר לָהֶם חַשְּׁבוּ אֶת הַלְּבֵנִים, מִיָּד עָמְדוּ וּמָנוּ אוֹתָם, וְאָמַר לָהֶם כָּזֶה אַתֶּם מַעֲמִידִים בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם. מִנָּה אֶת הַנּוֹגְשִׂים שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם עַל הַשּׁוֹטְרִים שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְהַשּׁוֹטְרִים הִתְמַנּוּ עַל יֶתֶר הָעָם, וּכְשֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם (שמות ה, ז): לֹא תֹאסִפוּן לָתֵת תֶּבֶן לָעָם, הָיוּ בָּאִין הַנּוֹגְשִׂים וּמוֹנִין אֶת הַלְּבֵנִים וְנִמְצְאוּ חֲסֵרוֹת, הָיוּ מַכִּין הַנּוֹגְשִׂים אֶת הַשּׁוֹטְרִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ה, יד): וַיֻּכּוּ שֹׁטְרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְהָיוּ הַשּׁוֹטְרִים מֻכִּין עַל יֶתֶר הָעָם וְלֹא הָיוּ מוֹסְרִין אוֹתָן בִּידֵי נוֹגְשִׂים, וְאוֹמְרִים מוּטָב אָנוּ לִלְקוֹת וְאַל יִכָּשְׁלוּ יֶתֶר הָעָם. לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁאָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אָמַר משֶׁה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ מִי רָאוּי וּמִי אֵינוֹ רָאוּי, אָמַר לוֹ (במדבר יא, טז): אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ כִּי הֵם זִקְנֵי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו, אוֹתָן הַזְּקֵנִים וְהַשּׁוֹטְרִים שֶׁהָיוּ מוֹסְרִין עַצְמָן לִלְקוֹת עֲלֵיהֶם בְּמִצְרַיִם בְּמַתְכֹּנֶת הַלְּבֵנִים, יָבוֹאוּ וְיִטְלוּ בַּגְּדֻלָּה הַזּוֹ, לְפִיכָךְ הוּא אוֹמֵר: אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ כִּי הֵם זִקְנֵי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו. וּלְפִי שֶׁמָּסְרוּ עַצְמָן לִלְקוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר, לְפִיכָךְ (במדבר יא, יז): וְנָשְׂאוּ אִתְּךָ בְּמַשָֹּׂא הָעָם, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁהִשְׁוָן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה. מִכָּאן אַתְּ לָמֵד שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁמּוֹסֵר עַצְמוֹ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל זוֹכֶה לְכָבוֹד וְלִגְדֻלָּה וּלְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, לְכָךְ כְּתִיב: אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ כִּי הֵם זִקְנֵי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו, מִי הֵם, אוֹתָן שֶׁכָּתוּב בָּהֶן וַיֻּכּוּ שֹׁטְרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

20 (Numb. 11:16) “Gather Me seventy men”: Did they not have elders in the past? Was it not already stated in Egypt (in Exod. 3:16), “Go and gather the elders of Israel?” So for what reason had the Holy One, blessed be He, said (in Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men?” [It was] to teach you that when Pharaoh had said (in Exod. 1:10), “Come let us act shrewdly [...],” Pharaoh gathered all Israel, and said to them, “Please work with me as a favor today.” This is what is written (in vs. 13), “So the Egyptians made the Children of Israel labor with ruthlessness (befarekh).” What is the meaning of “with ruthlessness (befarekh)?” With gentle speech (befeh rakh).44The midrash is interpreting Exod. 1:13 to mean, SO THE EGYPTIANS MADE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL LABOR WITH GENTLE SPEECH. So Sot. 11ab; Exod. R. 1:11. Pharaoh took a basket and trowel; who [could] see Pharaoh taking basket and trowel, and working with bricks and not [also] work? Israel immediately went quickly, and applied all their strength along with him all the day, because they were strong and mighty. When it grew dark, he posted taskmasters over them. He said to them, “Reckon the [number of] bricks.” They immediately arose and counted them. He said to them, “This many you shall produce for me each and every day.” He assigned Egyptian taskmasters over the officers of Israel, and the officers were assigned over the rest of the people. Moreover when he said to them (in Exod. 5:7), “You shall no longer give the people straw,” the taskmasters came and counted the bricks. [If] they [the bricks] were found deficient, the taskmasters beat the officers, as stated (in Exod. 5:14), “And the officers of the Children of Israel, [whom the taskmasters of Pharaoh had set over them,] were beaten….” When the officers were beaten for the rest of the people, they did not hand them over into the hands of the taskmasters, for they said, “It is better for us to be beaten than that the rest of the people falter.” Therefore when the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses (in Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men,” Moses said, “My Master, I do not know who is worthy and who is not worthy.” He said to him (in Numb. 11:16 cont.), “Whom you know to be elders and officers of the people.” These are the officers who had handed themselves over to be beaten on their behalf in Egypt because of the required amount of bricks. Let them come and receive this dignity. It therefore says (ibid.), “whom you know to be elders and officers of the people.” Because they handed themselves over to be beaten for the community, therefore (in Numb. 11:16 cont.), “they shall lead with you in leading the people.” This is to teach you that the Holy One, blessed be He equated them with Moses. [From here] you learn that whoever hands himself over for the sake of Israel merits dignity, greatness and the holy spirit. It is therefore written (ibid.) “whom you know [to be elders and officers of the people.” From the ones of whom it is written (in Exod. 5:14), “And the officers of the Children of Israel [whom the taskmasters of Pharaoh had set over them] were beaten.”

21 כא

אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, וְהֵיכָן הָיוּ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (איוב לד, כד): יָרֹעַ כַּבִּירִים לֹא חֵקֶר וַיַּעֲמֵד אֲחֵרִים תַּחְתָּם. עַד שֶׁהָיוּ בְּמִצְרַיִם הָיָה לָהֶם שִׁבְעִים זְקֵנִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ג, טז): לֵךְ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְעִמָּהֶם יָצְאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם, וּכְשֶׁעָלָה משֶׁה לְקַבֵּל אֶת הַתּוֹרָה הָיוּ עִמּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כד, ט): וַיַּעַל משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, (שמות כד, יד): וְאֶל הַזְּקֵנִים אָמַר שְׁבוּ לָנוּ בָזֶה. כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָלָה משֶׁה הִתְנָה עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיֵּרֵד לְאַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁהָה לֵירֵד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, א): וַיַּרְא הָעָם כִּי בשֵׁשׁ משֶׁה, וְאֵין בּשֵׁשׁ אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שִׁהוּי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שופטים ה, כח): מַדּוּעַ בּשֵׁשׁ רִכְבּוֹ לָבוֹא מַדּוּעַ אֶחֱרוּ פַּעֲמֵי מַרְכְּבוֹתָיו. נִכְנְסוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵצֶל הַזְּקֵנִים וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶן משֶׁה הִתְנָה עִמָּנוּ שֶׁיֵּרֵד לְסוֹף אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, הֲרֵי שֵׁשׁ שָׁעוֹת יוֹתֵר וְלֹא יָרַד, וְאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִין מֶה הָיָה לוֹ (שמות לב, א): קוּם עֲשֵׂה לָנוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יֵלְכוּ לְפָנֵינוּ כִּי זֶה משֶׁה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֹא יָדַעְנוּ מֶה הָיָה לוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ כָּךְ, אָמְרוּ לָהֶם מָה אַתֶּם מַכְעִיסִין לְמִי שֶׁעָשָׂה לָכֶם כָּל אוֹתָן נִסִּים וְהַנִּפְלָאוֹת, וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ לָהֶם וַהֲרָגוּם, וּלְפִי שֶׁעָמַד חוּר כְּנֶגְדָּן בִּדְבָרִים קָשִׁים, עָמְדוּ עָלָיו עוֹד וַהֲרָגוּהוּ. נִכְנְסוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְאַהֲרֹן בְּטַקְסִים גְּדוֹלָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, א): וַיִּקָּהֵל הָעָם עַל אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו קוּם, מָה אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב קוּם, אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ צוֹוַחַת (תהלים כו, ה): שָׂנֵאתִי קְהַל מְרֵעִים. קוּם עֲשֵׂה לָנוּ אֱלֹהִים, וְאִם לָאו (שמות לב, א): כִּי זֶה, כָּזֶה אָנוּ עוֹשִׂים לְךָ, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעָמַדְנוּ עַל חוּר וַהֲרַגְנוּהוּ, כָּךְ אָנוּ עוֹשִׂים לָךְ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה אַהֲרֹן מַה שֶּׁעָשׂוּ לַזְּקֵנִים וּלְחוּר נִתְיָרֵא מֵהֶן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, ה): וַיַּרְא אַהֲרֹן וַיִּבֶן מִזְבֵּחַ, הֵבִין מִמִּי שֶׁזָּבוּחַ לְפָנָיו. וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁהָרְגוּ לַזְּקֵנִים וּלְחוּר, שֶׁכֵּן יִרְמְיָה מוֹכִיחַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל (ירמיה ב, לד): גַּם בִּכְנָפַיִךְ נִמְצְאוּ דַּם נַפְשׁוֹת אֶבְיוֹנִים נְקִיִּים לֹא בַמַּחְתֶּרֶת מְצָאתִים כִּי עַל כָּל אֵלֶּה, מַהוּ עַל כָּל אֵלֶּה, בִּשְׁבִיל (שמות לב, ד): אֵלֶּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מַה פָּרַע מֵהֶם (שמות לב, לה): וַיִּגֹּף ה' אֶת הָעָם עַל אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ אֶת הָעֵגֶל, אַחַר זְמַן כְּשֶׁסָּלַח לָהֶם, אָמַר לְמשֶׁה: אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים, תַּחַת אֲבוֹתָם שִׁבְעִים שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגוּ עַל קְדֻשַּׁת שְׁמִי, הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב: יָרֹעַ כַּבִּירִים לֹא חֵקֶר וַיַּעֲמֵד אֲחֵרִים תַּחְתָּם.

21 (Numb. 11:16) “Gather Me seventy men from the elders of Israel”: But where were those former ones? This text is related (to Job 34:24), “He shatters mighty ones without inquiry and raises up others in their stead.” When Israel was in Egypt, they had seventy elders as stated (in Exod. 3:16), “Go and gather the elders of Israel”; and with them they went out of Egypt. [Moreover] when Moses went up [on Sinai] to receive the Torah, they were [still] with him, as stated (in Exod. 24:9), “Then there went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel,” [and then] (in Exod. 24:14) “But unto the elders he had said, ‘Wait [for us] here […].’” When Moses had gone up, he had agreed with Israel to come down at the end of forty days. When he delayed coming down, all Israel came together to the elders. [He delayed,] even as it is stated (in Exod. 32:1), “When the people saw that Moses delayed (boshesh).”45Cf. Shab. 89a. Now boshesh can only mean a delay since it is stated (in Judg. 5:28), “Why is his chariot late (boshesh) in coming; why are the hoof-beats of his chariots delaying?” They said to them, Moses agreed with us that he would come down in forty days. Now here it is forty days and he has not come down. And in addition, six hours more [have passed];46Cf. Exod. R. 41:7, which derives boshesh from ba’u shesh, which means: “Six hours have come.” See Gen. R. 18:6. yet we do not know what has happened to him. So (in the words of Exod. 32:1 cont.) ‘Arise and make a god for us […].’” When they heard that, they said to them, “Why are you angering Him, you for whom He performed all the miracles and wonders?” [But] they did not heed them and killed them. Then because Hur had stood ('md) up to them with harsh words, they (rt.: 'md) rose up against him and killed him [as well]. Then all of Israel gathered around Aaron with great pomp, as stated (ibid.), “and the people gathered unto Aaron...,” [saying,] “Get up! Why are you sitting? Get up!” R. Isaac said, “The holy spirit cried out (as in Psalms 26:5), ‘I detest the company of evil men.’” [They said to him] (again in the words of Exod. 32:1 cont.) “’Arise and make a god for us’; and if not, ‘as (like) this,’ we will do like this to you. In the same way that we rose up against Hur and killed him, so will we do to you, [if you prevent us from our demand].” Once Aaron saw what they did to the elders and to Hur, he was very afraid, as stated (Exodus 32:5), “And Aaron saw and he built an altar (vayiven mizbeach) in front of it,” [meaning that] he understood from the one killed before him (vayiven me’mi she’zavuach lefaniv). Where is it shown that they killed the elders and Hur?47On the killing of Hur, see also Tanh. Exod. 8:10; Exod. R. 42:1; 48:3; 51:8; Lev. R. 10:2; Numb. R. 9:45; PRE 45. Where Jeremiah rebuked Israel, as stated (in Jer. 2:34), “On your skirts there is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor; you did not find them breaking in; yet for of all these.” What is the significance of “for all these (elleh)?” [It is] because of (the statement in Exod. 32:4), “These (elleh) are your gods O Israel.” What [punishment] did He repay them? (As stated in Exod. 32:35), “Then the Lord sent a plague upon the people.” After a time, when the Holy One, blessed be He, had forgiven them, He said to Moses (in Numb. 11:16), “Gather Me seventy men, in place of those who were killed for the sanctification of My name.” That is what is written (in Job 34:24), “He shatters mighty ones without inquiry and raises up others in their stead.”

22 כב

אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (קהלת יב, יא): דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת וּכְמַשְׂמְרוֹת נְטוּעִים בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפּוֹת נִתְּנוּ מֵרֹעֶה אֶחָד. כַּדּוּר שֶׁל בָּנוֹת, מָה הַכַּדּוּר שֶׁל בָּנוֹת מְזָרְקִין בּוֹ לְכָאן וּלְכָאן, כָּךְ הָיוּ הַדִּבְּרוֹת מֻזְרָקִין בְּסִינַי. דָּבָר אַחֵר, כְּמַשְׂמְרוֹת נְטוּעִים, מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אָסוּר לִקְרוֹת בַּסְּפָרִים הַחִיצוֹנִים, שֶׁכָּתוּב נְטוּעִים. מַה מִּשְׁמָרוֹת הַכֹּהֲנִים עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה, אַף הַסְּפָרִים עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה. בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפּוֹת, אֵלּוּ סַנְהֶדְּרִין, וְאִם תֹּאמַר זֶה מַתִּיר וְזֶה אוֹסֵר, זֶה פּוֹסֵל וְזֶה מַכְשִׁיר, זֶה מְטַמֵּא וְזֶה מְטַהֵר, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר מְחַיֵב וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ פּוֹטֵר, בֵּית שַׁמַּאי פּוֹסְלִין וּבֵית הִלֵּל מַכְשִׁירִין, לְמִי נִשְׁמַע, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַף עַל פִּי כֵן כֻּלָּם נִתְּנוּ מֵרֹעֶה אֶחָד.

22 (Numb. 11:16:) “Gather Me seventy men”: This text is related (to Eccl. 12:11), “The words of the wise are like goads (kedarbanot) [...].” Kedarbanot [signifies] kadur shel banot (a ball for girls). Just like a ball for girls is thrown here and there, so were the words [of Torah] thrown at Sinai. Another interpretation (of Eccl. 12:11 cont.), “and like implanted nails”: From here the sages have said, “It is forbidden to read in the profane (chitzoniot) books.” It is therefore stated (ibid.), “implanted nails.” [“Like nails (msmrwt)” – this is to teach that] just as the watches (mshmrwt) of the priests number twenty-four, so also do the books [of the Bible] number twenty-four.” (Ibid. cont.:) [“(The masters of) collections.”] These [masters] are the Sanhedrin.48Gk.: synedrion. And if you say, “This person permits what another forbids, this one declares unfit what another declares fit, this one declares unclean what another declares clean, R. Eliezer obligates while R. Joshua exempts, and Bet Shammai prohibits while Bet Hillel permits; to whom should I listen?” [That is why] the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Nevertheless (according to Eccl. 12:11 end) ‘all of them were given from one shepherd.’”

23 כג

אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (משלי כב, יא): אֹהֵב טְהָר לֵב חֵן שְׂפָתָיו רֵעֵהוּ מֶלֶךְ, לָמָּה לֹא אָמַר לוֹ אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אֲנָשִׁים, אֶלָּא שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, מְיֻחָדִין, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ דּוֹמִין לִי וָלָךְ, (שמות טו, ג): ה' אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה, וּמשֶׁה (במדבר יב, ג): וְהָאִישׁ משֶׁה עָנָו מְאֹד.

23 (Numb. 11:16) “Gather Me seventy man (sic)49The midrash is ignoring the fact that Hebrew uses singular nouns with large numbers in order to build an interpretation on this singular usage. from the elders of Israel”: This text is related (to Prov. 22:11), “The one who loves purity of heart has grace on his lips, has a king as his friend.” Why did He not say to him (in Numb. 11:16), “seventy men" (with "men" in the plural), instead of “seventy man.” It is simply that He said to him, “seventy man (ish) [with the singular ish indicating] singular individuals,50I.e. singular individuals like the one described in Prov. 22:11. because they were to be like Me and you, as stated (Exod. 15:3:) “The Lord is a Man (ish) of war,” and [it is likewise stated about] Moses (Numb. 12:3), “Now the man (ish) Moses was very humble.”

24 כד

אֶסְפָה לִי, וְכִי לֹא הָיָה לָהֶם זְקֵנִים קֹדֶם לָכֵן, וְהָכְתִיב בְּהַר סִינַי (שמות כד, ט): וַיַּעַל משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וגו', וְהַפָּרָשָׁה הַזּוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ הָיְתָה, וְאָז הָיוּ הַזְּקֵנִים, אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְאוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים (במדבר יא, א): וַיְהִי הָעָם כְּמִתְאוֹנְנִים, נִשְׂרְפוּ כֻּלָּם בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה, אֶלָּא שֶׁהָיְתָה שְׂרֵפָתָם כִּשְׂרֵפַת נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא, שֶׁאַף הֵם הֵקֵלוּ רֹאשָׁם בַּעֲלוֹתָם לְהַר סִינַי כְּשֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַשְּׁכִינָה, (שמות כד, יא): וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ, וְכִי אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה הָיְתָה שָׁם, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְעֶבֶד שֶׁהָיָה מְשַׁמֵּשׁ אֶת רַבּוֹ וּפַרְנָסָתוֹ בְּיָדוֹ, וְהָיָה נוֹשֵׁךְ מִמֶּנָּהּ, כָּךְ הֵקֵלוּ רֹאשָׁן כְּאוֹכְלִין וְשׁוֹתִין, וְהָיוּ רְאוּיִן לִשָֹּׂרֵף בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הַזְּקֵנִים וְנָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא, וּמִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה יוֹם מַתַּן תּוֹרָה חָבִיב לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, לְפִיכָךְ לֹא רָצָה לִפְגֹּעַ בָּהֶן בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם לַעֲשׂוֹת פִּרְצָה בָּהֶן, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (שמות כד, יא): וְאֶל אֲצִילֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ, מִכְּלַל שֶׁהָיוּ רְאוּיִן לְהִשְׁתַּלֵּחַ יַד, אֲבָל לְאַחַר זְמַן גָּבָה מֵהֶן, נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא אַף הֵן נִשְׂרְפוּ כְּשֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לְאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, וְהֵן נִשְׂרְפוּ כְּשֶׁנִּתְאַוּוּ אוֹתָהּ תַּאֲוָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יא, ד): וְהָאסַפְסֻף אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבּוֹ הִתְאַוּוּ תַּאֲוָה, מַהוּ וְהָאסַפְסֻף, רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר אַבָּא וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן מְנַסְיָא, אֶחָד מֵהֶן אוֹמֵר אֵלּוּ הַגֵּרִים שֶׁעָלוּ עִמָּהֶן מִמִּצְרַיִם וְנֶאֱסָפִין עִמָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יב, לח): וְגַם עֵרֶב רַב עָלָה אִתָּם. וְאֶחָד מֵהֶן אוֹמֵר וְהָאסַפְסֻף אֵלּוּ סַנְהֶדְּרִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ. מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (במדבר יא, א): וַתִּבְעַר בָּם אֵשׁ ה' וַתֹּאכַל בִּקְצֵה הַמַּחֲנֶה, בַּקּוֹצִים שֶׁבַּמַּחֲנֶה. וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁאוֹתָן זְקֵנִים שֶׁעָלוּ לְהַר סִינַי נִשְׂרְפוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קו, יח): וַתִּבְעַר אֵשׁ בַּעֲדָתָם, וְאֵין עֵדָה אֶלָּא סַנְהֶדְּרִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו, כד): וְהָיָה אִם מֵעֵינֵי הָעֵדָה נֶעֶשְׂתָה, וּכְתִיב (ויקרא ד, יג): וְאִם כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁגּוּ, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהלים עח, לא): וְאַף אֱלֹהִים עָלָה בָּהֶם וַיַּהֲרֹג בְּמִשְׁמַנֵּיהֶם, אֵלּוּ סַנְהֶדְּרִין. (תהלים עח, לא): וּבַחוּרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִכְרִיעַ, אוֹתָן הַבַּחוּרִים שֶׁהָיוּ קְרוּיִן זְקֵנִים, שֶׁכָּתוּב בָּהֶן (שמואל ב ו, א): וַיֹּסֶף עוֹד דָּוִד אֶת כָּל בָּחוּר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּשֶׁחָזְרוּ וּבָכוּ וּבִקְּשׁוּ בָּשָׂר, אִם נֹאמַר בְּשַׂר חַיָּה, כָּל מַה שֶּׁבִּקְּשׁוּ נַעֲשָׂה לָהֶם, הַמָּן לְתוֹךְ פִּיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קו, טו): וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם שֶׁאֱלָתָם (תהלים עח, כט): וְתַאֲוָתָם יָבִא לָהֶם, אִם נֹאמַר שֶׁלֹא הָיָה לָהֶם שׁוֹר וּבְהֵמָה, וַהֲלוֹא כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר: וְגַם עֵרֶב רַב עָלָה אִתָּם וְצֹאן וּבָקָר, אִם נֹאמַר אֲכָלוּם בַּמִּדְבָּר, וַהֲלוֹא כְתִיב (במדבר לכ, א): וּמִקְנֶה רַב הָיָה לִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן, מִכָּאן אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן לֹא נִתְאַוּוּ בָּשָׂר, אֶלָּא שְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהלים עח, כז): וַיַּמְטֵר עֲלֵיהֶם כֶּעָפָר שְׁאֵר, וְאֵין שְׁאֵר אֶלָּא עֲרָיוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יח, ו): אִישׁ אִישׁ אֶל כָּל שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרוֹ, הֱוֵי שֶׁכָּךְ בִּקְּשׁוּ, לְהַתִּיר לָהֶם אֶת הָעֲרָיוֹת, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר יא, י): וַיִּשְׁמַע משֶׁה אֶת הָעָם בֹּכֶה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָיו, כְּשֶׁבִּקְּשׁוּ כָּךְ, לְכָךְ (במדבר יא, י): וַיִּחַר אַף ה' מְאֹד וּבְעֵינֵי משֶׁה רָע, בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה אָמַר משֶׁה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא (במדבר יא, יא): לָמָּה הֲרֵעֹתָ לְעַבְדֶּךָ, לִכְשֶׁעָבַר הָיָה עִמִּי מִי שֶׁיִּשָֹּׂא בְּמַשָֹּׂאָן וְעַכְשָׁו אֲנִי לְבַדִּי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יא יד טו): לֹא אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי לָשֵׂאת וגו' אִם כָּכָה אַתְּ עֹשֶׂה לִי הָרְגֵנִי נָא הָרֹג. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַנֵּה תַּחַת אוֹתָן הַזְּקֵנִים זְקֵנִים אֲחֵרִים תַּחְתֵּיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֶסְפָה לִי שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ.

24 (Numb. 11:16) “Gather Me [seventy men from the elders of Israel]”: But did you not have elders before? Here now it is written concerning Mount Sinai (in Exod. 24:9), “Then there went up Moses […] and the seventy elders of Israel”; and this parashah (with Numb. 11:16) comes after that. So where were the[se earlier] elders? It is simply that, when Israel did those things which are stated (in Numb. 11:1), “Now the people were as murmurers […] then the fire of the Lord burned against them,” they were all destroyed by fire at that time. It is simply that their burning was like the burning of Nadab and Abihu, for they also had acted with disrespect on ascending Sinai, when they saw the Divine Presence. It is so stated (in Exod. 24:11), “they beheld God, and they ate and drank.” Was there eating and drinking there? To what is the matter comparable? To a servant who attended his master while [holding] a slice of bread in his hand and taking bites from it. Similarly had they acted with disrespect as though eating and drinking. So the elders along with Nadab and Abihu deserved to be destroyed by fire on that day; but because the giving of Torah was dear to the Holy One, blessed be He, He therefore did not want to harm them and bring calamity to them on that day. This is what is written (ibid.), “But He (the Holy One, blessed be He,) did not raise His hand against the nobles of the Children of Israel.” From this you may infer that they deserved to have a hand raised [against them]. After a time, however, He collected their debt: Nadab and Abihu were also destroyed by fire as they entered the tent of meeting, while the elders were destroyed by fire when they were filled with lusting, as stated (in Numb. 11:4), “Then the rabble (ha'safsuf) which was in their midst became filled with lust.” Who were the rabble (ha'safsuf)? R. Simeon ben Menasya and R. Simeon bar Abba [differed on the matter]. One said, “These were the proselytes who came up with them from Egypt and who were gathered (ne'esafim) together with them as stated (in Exod. 12:38), ‘And a mixed multitude went up with them.’” But the other said, “Rabble can only be a Sanhedrin, since it is stated (in Numb. 11:16), ‘Gather (esfah) Me seventy men.’” What [else] is written there (in Numb. 11:1)? “Then the fire of the Lord burned against them and consumed them in the outskirts (qetseh) of the camp,” [i.e.,] among the selected (muqetsim) in the camp. And where is it shown that those elders who went up onto the mountain were destroyed by fire? Where it is stated (in Ps. 106:18), “And fire broke out in their company ('edah),” since company ('edah) can only be a Sanhedrin as stated (in Numb. 15:24), “And it shall come to pass that if it was done [by mistake] away from the eyes of the congregation ('edah).”51I.e. the leaders of the congregation. So Rashi on Numb. 15:24. It is also written (in Lev. 4:13), “And if the whole congregation ('edah) of Israel52This expression was often interpreted as denoting the Sanhedrin. So Sifra to Lev. 4:13 (42: Wayyiqra parashah 4); R. Meir in Hor. 5a; Rashi on Lev. 4:13. should err.” And likewise it says (in Ps. 78:31), “When God’s anger flared up at them, He slew their sturdiest,” these were the Sanhedrin; “struck down the chosen of Israel,” these were the chosen ones that were called elders, about whom it is written (in II Sam. 6:1), “And David still added to the chosen among Israel.” Then they wept again and demanded meat. Now you might say, “What they wanted was animal flesh? Did it not come about that the manna became whatever they wanted inside of their mouths, as stated (in Ps. 106:15), ‘So He gave them what they asked for...’?” And in case you should say that they did not have oxen and cattle in the desert, has it not already stated (in Exod. 12:38), “And a mixed multitude went up with them and flocks and herds.” And in case you should say they ate them in the desert, is it not written (in Numb. 32:1), “Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had much livestock?” From here R. Simeon said, “It was not meat for which they lusted, since it says so (in Ps. 78:27) – ‘And He rained down flesh (she'er) upon them like dust.’ Now she'er must denote illicit intercourse since it is stated (in Lev. 18:6), ‘None of you shall approach any close (she'er) relation to him.’ Ergo, it [really] says that they desired to permit illicit intercourse for themselves; and so it says (in Numb. 11:10), ‘Now Moses heard the people weeping for their families.’”53See Yoma 75a according to which they were weeping here because of the family relations with whom they were forbidden to have intercourse. Thus when they desired such [relations] (ibid. cont.), “the Lord was very angry and it was bad in the eyes of Moses.” At that time Moses said to the Holy One, blessed be He, (in vs. 11), “’Why have you mistreated Your servant […]?’ In the past there was one with me who would bear the burden of Israel, but now I am alone.” Thus it is written (in vs. 14-15), “I am not able to bear [all] this people alone…. So if You are dealing like this with me, please truly kill me.” At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Appoint other elders instead of those elders.” It is so stated] (in vs. 16), “Gather Me seventy men.”

25 כה

וְיָרַדְתִּי וְדִבַּרְתִּי (במדבר יא, יז), לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ שֶׁיּוֹם מִנּוּי הַזְּקֵנִים הָיָה חָבִיב לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כְּיוֹם מַתַּן תּוֹרָה שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (שמות יט, יא): כִּי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִשִׁי יֵרֵד ה' לְעֵינֵי כָל הָעָם, אַף בְּמִנּוּי הַזְּקֵנִים כְּתִיב שָׁם יְרִידָה, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ פַּרְדֵּס וְשָׂכַר לְתוֹכוֹ שׁוֹמֵר וְנָתַן לוֹ שְׂכַר הַשְּׁמִירָה, לְאַחַר זְמַן אָמַר לוֹ הַשּׁוֹמֵר אֵינִי יָכוֹל לְשָׁמְרוֹ כֻּלּוֹ לְבַדִּי, אֶלָּא הָבֵא עוֹד אֲחֵרִים שֶׁיִּשְׁמְרוּ עִמִּי. אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ נָתַתִּי לְךָ אֶת הַפַּרְדֵּס כֻּלּוֹ לְשָׁמְרוֹ וְכָל פֵּרוֹת שְׁמִירָתָן לְךָ נָתַתִּי, וְעַכְשָׁו אַתָּה אוֹמֵר הָבֵא לִי עוֹד אֲחֵרִים שֶׁיִּשְׁמְרוּ עִמִּי, הֲרֵינִי מֵבִיא אֲחֵרִים שֶׁיִּשְׁמְרוּ עִמְּךָ וֶהֱוֵי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֵין אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לָהֶם שְׂכַר שְׁמִירָה מִשֶּׁלִּי אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שָׂכָר שֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְךָ מִשָּׁם הֵן נוֹטְלִין שְׂכָרָן. כָּךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה, כְּשֶׁאָמַר לֹא אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי לָשֵׂאת, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֲנִי נָתַתִּי בְּךָ רוּחַ וְדַעַת לְפַרְנֵס אֶת בָּנַי, וְלֹא הָיִיתִי מְבַקֵּשׁ אַחֵר כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּתְיַחֵד אַתָּה בְּאוֹתָהּ גְּדֻלָּה, וְאַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ אַחֵר, תֵּדַע שֶׁמִּשֶּׁלִּי אֵינָן נוֹטְלִין כְּלוּם אֶלָּא (במדבר יא, יז): וְאָצַלְתִּי מִן הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלֶיךָ, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן משֶׁה לֹא חָסַר כְּלוּם, שֶׁלְּסוֹף אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה אָמַר לוֹ (במדברכז, יח כ): קַח לְךָ אֶת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן, וְנָתַתָּה מֵהוֹדְךָ עָלָיו, מַה כְּתִיב (דברים לד, ט): וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן מָלֵא רוּחַ חָכְמָה כִּי סָמַךְ משֶׁה אֶת יָדָיו עָלָיו, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה נִתְנַבְּאוּ יְחִידִים וְלָעוֹלָם הַבָּא כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נַעֲשִׂין נְבִיאִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יואל ג, א): וְהָיָה אַחֲרֵי כֵן אֶשְׁפּוֹךְ אֶת רוּחִי עַל כָּל בָּשָׂר וְנִבְּאוּ בְּנֵיכֶם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וגו', כָּךְ דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא בְּרַבִּי אַבָּא.

25 (Numb. 11:17:) “Then I will come down and speak with you there”: [This verse is] to inform you that the day for appointing elders was as dear to the Holy One, blessed be He, as the day for the giving of Torah. Thus it is stated (in Exod. 19:11), “for on the third day the Lord will come down”; and also (in Numb. 11:17) with reference to appointing the elders, “I will come down,” is written. To what is the matter comparable? To a king who had an orchard and hired a guard for it. Then he gave him the payment of a guard for him to guard the orchard. After a time the guard said to him, “I cannot guard all of it myself. Rather give me others to guard it with me.” The king said to him, “I have given the entire orchard into your keeping, and I have given you all [the payment] for guarding it; but now you would say to me, ‘Go and bring others to guard it with me.’ See I am bringing others to guard with you, but observe that I am not giving them their payment from what belongs to me. Rather it is from your payment which I have given you that they are receiving their payment.” Similarly did the Holy One, blessed be He, speak to Moses. When [Moses] said to Him, “I cannot [do everything] alone,” the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “I have given you understanding and knowledge to sustain54PRNS. Cf. Gk.: pronoos (“prudent”). My children. Moreover, I did not want others, simply so that you would have strength and knowledge and so that you would stand alone in that greatness. But [now] you are the one who wants another. Be aware that they will receive [payment], not from what is Mine, but from what is yours.” It is so stated (in Numb. 11:17.), “and I will set aside some of the spirit which is upon you and put it on them [...].” Nevertheless Moses did not lack anything. You should know that after forty years He said to Moses (in Numb. 27:18, 20), “Take Joshua ben Nun …. And put some of your glory upon him.” Then what is written about Joshua (in Deut. 34:9)? “Now Joshua ben Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom.” Why? (Ibid. cont.:) “Because Moses had laid his hands upon him.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “In this world [only] individuals have prophesied, but in the world to come all Israel shall become prophets.” It is so stated (in Joel 3:1), “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh so that your sons and your daughters and your elders shall prophesy, etc.”55 Cf. Deut. R. 6:14. So did R. Tanchuma beRabbi Abba expound.