Death of a Tzaddik by Josh Markovic


Parshat Vayeilech records that Hashem said to Moshe Rabbeinu, “Hein Karvu Yamacha Lamut,” “Behold, your days approach that you will die” (31:14).  Several parts of this Pasuk seem extra: why did Hashem say “your days approach,” and why did He add the word “behold?”

The first extra phrase may be emphasizing the special nature of Moshe’s death.  When Hashem said, “Your days approach that you will die,” and not just “you will die,” He was stressing to Moshe Rabbeinu that he would not die fully; rather, only his body would die, but his Neshama would live on to see Olam Haba.

The Midrash explains the word “Hein,” “behold,” by giving the full story of its use.  Moshe Rabbeinu was shocked when Hashem used this word because he himself had used it when praising Hashem.  The Midrash compares this to a slave who finds a sword and gives it to his master, at which point his master orders the slave to be killed with the sword.  Hashem responds to Moshe Rabbeinu, “Did you not say ‘Behold (“Hein) they will not believe me!’ (Shemot 4:1) when I told you to take Am Yisrael out of Mitzrayim?”  In this sense, the word Hein is a reminder to Moshe of a past error.

The Tiferet Tzion, however, gives a more positive explanation that is also related to the first extra phrase in the Pasuk.  He says the word Hein is only used when there is an open relationship with Hashem.  Hashem specifically used this word to show that this might be one of the last times this word would be used, as Moshe Rabbeinu was about to die, and Bnei Yisrael were not ready for such an open relationship with Hashem.  Rabbeinu Bachya states that Moshe Rabbeinu’s death was only a gateway to Olam Haba.  Moshe’s relationship with Hashem at this point, then, was an open one, and the use of the word “Hein” was therefore not negative at all.

Thus, the death of Moshe Rabbeinu was truly “the death of the righteous” (Bamidbar 23:10), and this Pasuk describes it quite positively, indeed.


Teshuvah With a Bang by Tzvi Atkin

Reliable Witnesses by Rabbi Avi Pollak