Part Four
Midrashic Mysteries - Part Four

(45) Why could the Mishkan not have been sanctified by the death of Moshe, rather than the by death of Nadav and Avihu?

(45) The sefer Yaaros Devash brings a Midrash which says that the posuk in Tehillim (90,1) "A prayer of Moshe, man of G-d" is explained by the posuk in Koheles (1,5) "The sun rises and the sun sets" - the sun of Moshe did not set until the sun of Yehoshua rose. This Midrash is very puzzling.

But behold, Chazal taught that because Moshe took care of the bones of Yosef when they left Egypt, and there was no one greater than him in Yisrael, therefore Hashem took care of Moshe’s burial. But the commentaries questioned this assertion, because when the sons of Aharon died, Moshe said to Aharon "I thought that the Mishkan would be sanctified either with me or with you. Now I see that they are greater than me an you". From this we see that Nadav and Avihu were greater than Moshe. And afterwards their souls entered Pinchos, as is well-known, and if so, Pinchos was greater than Moshe. So how could Chazal say that there was no one greater than Moshe in Yisrael?

But in fact, although Moshe thought that since the Mishkan had been sanctified with Nadav and Avihu and not with him, therefore they were more eminent than him, in truth, there was no one greater than Moshe. But it was not possible that he should die and have the Mishkan sanctified through him, because the time for the rise of the sun of Yehoshua had not yet arrived, because he needed to serve Moshe for forty years until he would reach the level at which he could fill the place of Moshe, the most choice of Hashem’s creations. Therefore, it was not possible for the sun of Moshe to set at that time.

This is the meaning of the Midrash, which also explained that the phrase "man of G-d" which was used to describe Moshe, means an very eminent person whose greatness is exceeded only by G-d. But there is a difficulty with this appellation of Moshe, because there was Pinchos who had in him the souls of Nadav and Avihu who were greater than Moshe. Therefore, the Midrash taught that this was not so, that really none of Hashem’s creatures was greater than Moshe. Rather, the reason that the Mishkan had not been sanctified with him was because "the sun rises and the sun sets" - the sun of Moshe could not set until the sun of Yehoshua rose, and so it was not possible for Moshe to die at that time.

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