Vol 31.03 - Shmot 3
Rashi (4:20) "on the donkey": The difference to that of Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer (Chap 31), The difference according to Pnimiyut between the donkey of Avrohom, the donkey of Moshe and the donkey of King Moshiach (5749)
“…..Moshe took his wife and sons and mounted them on the donkey….” – Shemot 4:20
The Torah specifies the means of transportation that Moshe provided for his family because the donkey they rode wasn’t quite your average donkey. Rather, when he set out on his journey to Egypt, Moshe mounted his family on what the Torah calls, “The Donkey”. In Rashi’s words, “This was the donkey that Avraham saddled to travel to the Akeida of Yitzchak; Moshiach is destined to appear upon it as well.”
Chancing upon this miraculous donkey conveyed an important message to Moshe. For seven days, G-d implored Moshe to accept the mission of redeeming the Jewish people (see Rashi 4:10). Moshe argued that his brother Aharon was older and more suitable than he, and that he did not want to offend Aharon. Additionally, Moshe said, “I know that I am not destined to take them into the Land of Israel and to be their Future Redeemer. You have other messengers—send them!” G-d responded to Moshe’s concerns by causing him to chance upon “The Donkey”.
A Donkey with a History
Firstly, the donkey reminded Moshe that Avraham had good cause for deliberation when G-d instructed him to offer his son Yitzchak as a sacrifice. Yet, “Avraham arose early in the morning, and he saddled his donkey (Beraishis 22:3).” As Rashi comments there, out of love for G-d and eagerness to obey His command, Avraham hastened to saddle the donkey himself, instead of commanding his servants to do so. The donkey thus reminded Moshe of the eagerness and enthusiasm with which one must approach G-d’s instructions. Even if Moshe’s concerns for Aharon seem legitimate, Moshe should emulate Avraham and not hesitate to carry out the mission given to him to redeem the Jewish people.
Finally, Moshe was shown that Moshiach, the future Redeemer, is destined to appear on this donkey as well. This hinted to Moshe that the future Redemption depended on him as well, and will merely be a continuation of the Redemption process that he is beginning.
(From https://www.atzmut.com/donkey-history-parashat-shemot/—Likkutei Sichos vol. 31, pp. 16-18)
1. On the verse (Ex.4:20):
“So Moshe took his wife and his sons, mounted them upon the donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt, and Moshe took the staff of G-d in his hand”.
Rashi states the words, "Upon the donkey" - and writes:
"The designated donkey. That is the donkey that Avraham saddled for the binding of Yitzchak (Akeidat Yitzchak), and that is the one upon whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself, as it is said: “humble, and riding a donkey” (Zech. 9:9)".
Plainly, Rashi’s intent is to explain the words, “upon the donkey", that is stated with a definite article “Hei” (ה"א הַיְּדׅיעָה) which proves that the intent is to the "special donkey".
Rashi explains the uniqueness of the donkey –
"it is the donkey that Avraham saddled, etc."
However, one must understand:
Furthermore, why must Rashi add that, "it is the one (the donkey) that King Moshiach will be destined to reveal himself upon", which is a wondrous thing and extremely great miracle. Namely, that the donkey will be alive and existing for thousands of years! Especially, since this does not concern the understanding of the verse.
2. Why does Rashi cite from the verse also the word "upon" (על)? According to the aforementioned, Rashi is only explaining the word "the donkey?
2. The Talmud states that this verse is one of the verses that were changed by the Seventy-Two elders when they translated the Torah for King Ptolemy, and wrote, "and he set them upon a carrier of people".
Rashi explains that:
“This implies a camel, in order that one should not say ‘Moshe your leader did not have a horse or camel’".
The Ibn Ezer here explains the reason for this change:
"For it is denigration that the wife of the prophet should ride on one donkey – she and her two sons".
According to this, there is room to say that Rashi's intent is also to reconcile the above questions –
(and in particular, as is plainly probable, together with all their belongings).
Therefore, Rashi explains that it was not an ordinary donkey but rather a “special donkey”, namely "the donkey that Avraham saddled, etc.".
Since it is so, it is no wonder how such a miraculous donkey as this, has the power to carry a heavy load that is not ordinary or natural.
(According to this, one could say that this matter is alluded to by Rashi by his citing from the verse, also the word “upon”, to emphasize - that in his comment he is coming to explain and resolve why Moshe had placed and loaded so much "upon the donkey").
However, this itself requires a reason:
Why did Moshe have to take a special donkey and place his wife and two sons and all their belongings on it. Why did he not take a sufficient number of donkeys, or a horse and a camel, etc.?
4. It also requires explanation:
This source of Rashi’s Derash (homily) is in Pirkei dR’ Eliezer.
However, there it prefaces,
"It is the son of the donkey that was created at the Twilight of the conclusion of Creation (בין השמשות).
Yet Rashi omits this detail.
And although when Rashi cites Midrashim of the Sages, his style is not to cite them in their exact words and form, but rather only to cite what concerns the simple meaning of the verse, as has been explained many times,
(and especially in our case where in the Pirkei dR’ Eliezer, the homily comes on the verse of Avraham, whereas Rashi cites the Derash here in order to explain the verse of our Parsha) -,
nevertheless, since the content of the Derash is to explain the uniqueness of this donkey, Rashi should have brought the detail in which the donkey was already distinguished, and it would have been known that, "it is the son of the donkey that was created at the Twilight".
The aspect that it is the donkey that, "King Moshiach will be destined to reveal himself upon", will occur at the End of Days. Therefore, how is this resolved in the simple meaning of the verse?
Therefore, one must say that Rashi's intent here is to explain not (only) the uniqueness of this donkey, in general (like the Pirkei dR’ Eliezer), but mainly to explain the uniqueness of the donkey regarding our case – the matter of the departure of Moshe from Median to Egypt to redeem Yisroel.
Therefore, Rashi also cites the detail that, "it is the one whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself upon". In other words, that this donkey was predestined (נועד) for the redemption of Yisroel - for Moshe's journey with his wife and sons to Egypt was to redeem Bnei Yisroel from the land of Egypt.
However, according to this it is not understood from the other perspective:
The aspect that, "It is the donkey that Avraham saddled for the binding of Yitzchak" is seemingly not relevant to our case.
4. One could say that the explanation of this is:
In his commentary here, Rashi is coming to explain the superfluous details in the verse, which are seemingly beyond understanding. Why must Scripture explain and detail the manner in which Moshe and his family went to Egypt - "He placed them upon the donkey"? Why did Scripture not write concisely, "And Moshe took his wife and sons and returned to Egypt etc."?
Rashi’s explanation resolves the connection of this detail to the general aspects of this Parsha, as will be explained.
In the debate between Moshe and G-d regarding Moshe’s mission to redeem Yisroel, where G-d commanded:
"Come, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and take My people, the children of Yisroel, out of Egypt"
and Moshe refused to accept the mission. At the end of the seven days when, "G-d enticed Moshe at the thorn bush to go on His mission", Moshe said, "Please send the one whom You would send."
According to Rashi's interpretation there are two aspects in this answer:
However, in the end of the matter, Moshe accepted the mission to bring out Bnei Yisroel.
Rashi explains that that this was because:
"He (G-d) became angry and he (Moshe) accepted".
However, it is not explained in Scripture how and why Moshe's aforementioned claim was refuted.
(For although though the verse continues,
"Is there not Aharon your brother, the Levite? I know that he will surely speak, and behold, he is coming forth toward you, and when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart",
and as Rashi explains that it is:
"Not as you think, that he will resent your attaining a high position".
However, this is not so straightforward.
For Moshe's refusal was not just because of Aharon's resentment, but rather, because he did not want to usurp his brother Aharon’s position, who was older than him).
Therefore, one could say that when Moshe agreed to fulfill G-d's mission, the answer to his claims was alluded to by G-d causing that the journey to fulfill the mission would be through the "special" donkey - "the donkey that Avraham saddled to bind Yitzchak and is the one upon whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself".
With this, the two matters are explained:
In the "binding of Yitzchak" (when Avraham saddled his donkey) he was commanded – “Sacrifice him as a burnt-offering". Nevertheless, Avraham Avinu did not hesitate for a moment to fulfill G-d’s command. On the contrary, he "was swift to fulfill the command”. So much so, that he saddled a donkey, “himself without commanding one of his servants”.
From this, how much more so (בכ״ש וק״ו), is it understood in our case - even though there is, in this instance, the matter of accepting "greatness".
(and in addition to the very acceptance of importance –
it is possible that it would lead to Aharon’s resentment, or that, at the very least, he would not be pleased and wholeheartedly accept him) –
there must be the fulfillment of G-d’s command with completeness and with joy and the wholeness of heart.
In connection with the second claim,
" I am not destined to bring them into the Land, nor to be their redeemer in the future" –
G-d hinted to him,
"that is the one (donkey) upon whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself".
In other words, they are not two separate matters and redemptions. Rather, the Future Geulah through King Moshiach is a continuation of this Geulah of the exodus of Egypt that is through Moshe. Moreover, the Future Geulah and the revelation of King Moshiach is dependent of the power of Moshe, and his action in the Geulah of Egypt.
5. According to the aforementioned, one could also explain many of the precise wordings in Rashi:
"It is the donkey that Avraham saddled" (שחבש).
Whereas in the second matter, Rashi writes,
"it is the one whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself (להגלות) upon".
Seemingly, just as with regard to Avraham, Rashi uses the language of the verse ("and he saddled his donkey/ ויחבוש את חמורו").
So too, he should have used the language of the verse regarding Moshiach "riding on a donkey" (רוכב על חמור), and he should have stated,
"That is the one upon whom King Moshiach is destined to ride upon).
(Like the wording of the Pirkei dR’ Eliezer)
2. In the Pirkei dR’ Eliezer there, it states,
"It is the one upon which, Ben-David (the son of David) is destined to ride upon".
Whereas Rashi changes and writes "King Moshiach".
The explanation of this is:
It has been explained above (Par. 3), that the intent of the Pirkei dR’ Eliezer is to enumerate all the virtues of the donkey that Avraham Avinu saddled to bind Yitzchak, that:
Therefore, he sufficed with the wording of the verse where it says, “he is humble and riding on a donkey" and he gave him the appellation: “Ben-David":
However, Rashi's intent here (as aforementioned) is to explain the connection of this donkey to our case, and as aforementioned, that with this special donkey- the answer to Moshe's refusal is alluded to.
This is the reason for Rashi's precise wording in the two details (as aforementioned):
"that it is the one which Ben-David will ride upon”.
For this language has no special meaning regarding the Geulah of Yisroel.
For it is possible that Ben-David will ride upon it, in general (not as Yisroel’s savior). For although this also depicts that it is a special donkey, that Ben-David is accustomed to ride upon this specific donkey. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily related to the aspect of Geulah.
Therefore, Rashi precisely states that it is the one, "upon whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself".
In other words, the donkey that is related to him (שייך אליו):
6. One may also say, that also this, that:
"The one upon whom King Moshiach is destined to reveal himself”
(not only to Moshe's claim that it is not his destiny to bring them into the Land and to be their future savior, but)
also to his first (and main) claim - that he does not want to take greatness etc. instead of his older brother Aharon.
(For with this, Moshe began his refusal, even at the beginning of G-d's speech to him, as it states, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh").
Rashi precisely cites from the verse,
"poor, and riding a donkey" (עני ורוכב על חמור).
Seemingly, why does Rashi cite these words?
If Rashi’s intent is to cite a part of the verse that depicts that it is referring to King Moshiach, he should have cited the words before this,
“Your king shall come to you. He is just and victorious etc.".
Therefore, one must say that Rashi’s sole intent is just to mark the verse in which it is explicit that he rides upon the donkey. If so why does he precisely also cite the words, “poor, and riding a donkey”? Especially since it is seemingly a contradiction to his words, “King Moshiach"?
The explanation is:
In the explanation of the verse " poor, and riding a donkey",
In other words, since this mission is from G-d, even though the content of the mission is to be the savior of Yisroel, it specifically depends on the aspect of humility and epitome of his Bitul. For specifically through this, G-d’s sovereignty is drawn down and rests upon him, as it states in the verse,
"With the lofty and the holy ones I dwell, and with the crushed and humble in spirit."
With this, is alluded the answer to Moshe, who did not want to take greatness etc., and claimed "Who am I" - "What is my importance ". This claim depicts Moshe’s humility.
If so, on the contrary, Moshe specifically needed this, in order to be worthy of this mission. For the reason that G-d chose him to redeem Yisroel, is precisely because of his, "Who am I", "What is my importance".
7. From the homiletic style of Torah in Rashi's commentary (Yayina shel Torah):
According to what was explained above, we find that there is a difference between the donkey of Avraham, the donkey of Moshe and the donkey of King Moshiach:
(even though Scripture states, "riding on a donkey/רוכב על חמור").
One could say, that the aforementioned different expressions are in accordance with the three steps and levels in the drawing down of holiness into the world, in the three periods of Avraham, Moshe and King Moshiach.
The explanation of the matter is:
It is explained in commentaries that "donkey" alludes and depicts the "materiality" (חומר) of the body and the materiality of the world, in general.
(And as is well known, the explanation of the Baal Shem Tov on verse.
“When you see the donkey of one who hates you etc.”,
that it refers to the materiality of the body)
This is the general connection between the aspect of Geulah specifically to “donkey”.
(Which is why both Moshe (the first redeemer), as well as King Moshiach (the final redeemer) will ride on a donkey) –
For the inner and main content of Geulah is the revelation of G-d’s holiness. For this, there must be the breaking, refining and clarification of the material (החומר), both the materiality of the body of a Jewish man and woman, in particular, as well as the materiality of the world, in general.
In the words of the Alter Rebbe, (the Baal Hilulah of Chof-Dalet Tevet) in Sefer HaTanya, that the purpose of the creation of the world will be in the days of Moshiach. “For then, the dross of the body and of the world will be refined, and they will be able to receive the revelation of G-d’s light”.
In the action of man in the clarifying and refining of the materiality of the body, there are, in general, three modes:
(lit: (from) a wild donkey a man will be born"),
and by nature, he follows the desires of his body, His Avodah is to influence himself not to follow his desires etc. Rather, he should engage in Torah and Mitzvot. According to this manner, the Avodah is in the path of conquest and control (כיבוש ושליטה). For the person controls his body and animal soul, and subdues the materiality of his body in a manner that the materiality of the body does not conceal and obscure the light of his soul.
2. Above this level is the Avodah of refining the materiality of the body itself, that the body itself becomes a “servant of G-d” (‘עובד ה). This is accomplished through changing one’s natural characteristics so that one does not want the desires of the world etc.
However, in the refining and polishing of the material of the body itself - there are two manners:
Just as it is in the Avodah of each and every person, in particular - so too is it in the general materiality of the world - there are three modes of clarifying and refining of materiality, through which is revealed G-d’s holiness in the world:
1. Subduing and Bitul of the coarseness and materiality of the world, that prevents the resting of holiness (השראת הקדושה). For the nullification and breaking of materiality gives place to the revelation of holiness in the world.
2. That the physicality of the world becomes clarified and refined until it becomes a receptacle for the revelation of the light of holiness.
3. The epitome of completeness in the clarification and refining of the world, that the physicality itself becomes sanctified.
This will be in the Future when the tiding,
"And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of the L-rd spoke"
In other words, this will be the property of the “flesh” (תכונת ה״בשר״) in the Future – that it will be refined to such a degree, that the flesh will have the ability (on its own) to see that “the mouth of the L-rd speaks”.
8. This is the difference between the three periods of Avraham, Moshe and Moshiach:
This is why Rashi's precisely writes, “it is the donkey that Avraham saddled". The “saddling" of the donkey depicts the subduing of the material.
This is why is states regarding Moshe, "and he placed them to ride upon the donkey". The Avodah of "saddling" the donkey was already accomplished by Avraham Avinu, and it was already possible for there to be "riding" upon the donkey - that the light of holiness should be drawn down into the materiality of the world.
However, it was still then in a manner of "he placed them to ride upon the donkey" (וירכיבם על החמור).
In other words, indeed the light of holiness "rides" and illuminates on (through) the materiality. However, the revelation of the light of holiness is not related (מתייחס) to the "donkey" itself, but rather to the one riding upon it.
Namely that the revelation of the light of Moshiach will be through the "donkey" itself – that the materiality will be refined to such an extent, that it itself will reveal the light of holiness, in the world.
According to this, one can explain the inner reason for the further division between three donkeys of Avraham, Moshe and Moshiach:
According to what was explained above, one could say that reason for this is:
(and the act of refining was just in that which it became a vessel for the light of holiness which illuminates from Above).
Therefore, there still was not yet a "connection" between the "donkey" and Moshe himself;
For then it will be revealed, and in a manner of "as water covers the sea bed", how the true entity of each being is, " the truth of His being”, and in the words of the Mitteler Rebbe, then it will be revealed that "the entity of the created being” (יש הנברא) is one with the “true Being" (יש האמיתי).
(m’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Shmot 5747; Yud-Tes Kislev 5718)
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