Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dark Sunrise

When confronting Korach, Moshe states, "Morning will happen and Hashem will make known those that are to Him, etc." A fairly obvious question is why the delay, why didn't Moshe just have the showdown right then and there? What was the necessity to delay until morning?

The Maharasha addresses this issue in his commentary to Nedarim 39b.The Gemara mentions that when Korach challenged Moshe's authority the sun and moon ascended to the loftier heavens to demand justice on behalf of Moshe. They gave Hashem an ultimatum, either He should do justice for ben-Amram (Moshe), or they would refuse to shine from this point on. Hashem shot arrows at them and forced them back to their regular jobs and stated, "Every day the pagans bow to you and you continue to shine without defending My honor, but for the honor of a human you stand up!"

The Maharsha states that Moshe wanted to reference this celestial confrontation when rebuking Korach. He, therefore, stated that tomorrow morning justice will occur. Not because the sun will not shine, as was the sun's intent; rather, because Hashem will very clearly display who He has chosen to perform His service and who He has not. The Maharsha continues to state that this may be partially alluded to in the Rashi's commentary to this verse.

One thing that I find interesting about this is that it would seem the Maharsha felt that the sun was telling Hashem that justice will have to be carried out for Moshe. Either the sun will do it by not shining, or Hashem will perform a different miracle. Since Moshe was familiar with the discussion, had Hashem told the sun that he could adjudicate, then Moshe would have referenced the lack of the sun's shining the following morning as a testament to Moshe's authenticity. If this is true then why did the moon join with the sun in making the ultimatum? The determining factor was the sun, not the moon. The answer is quite obvious, though. The moon does not produce its own light, rather, it reflects that of the sun. Thus, if the sun were to cease shining, the moon would inevitably follow suit.

I concede that the Maharsha's commentary does seem a bit hard to read into the wording of the Gemara. The sun and moon seem to both be demanding justice and declaring that they will go on strike if justice was not served. It does not seem that the sun was stating that he would provide justice should Hashem choose not to carry it out. Any suggestions or answers?

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