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Pinchas: Karnei Re’eim

The 11th of Tammuz is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Aharon Moshe Toibish, Rav and Av Beis Din of Jassy (Yassy; Iasi; Yosser; Tirgu-Yasski), Romania, and author of Karnei Re’em and To’eifos Re’em. Yassy, the capital of Moldavia, once had 40,000 inhabitants, but fires in 1822 and 1827 reduced that number by a half. In 1854, the whole of Moldova was in Bessarabia, a province of Russia . In 1849, 20% were Jews, and in 1908, close to 50% were Jews.


We are taught that Moshe was a the sun to Yehoshua who was the moon.

Elisha asked Elijah for twice his spirit, and was able to receive it. Elisha had achieved greatness because of his service of Elijah. Surely Yehoshua, the epitome of a student serving his master, merited even more than Elisha! Why would Yehoshua achieve only a reflection of his master?

Elisha was tested by his ability to see Elijah go up to heaven; to observe his Rebbi at his highest level. He looked, did not move his eyes, and was able to absorb his Rebbi’s spirit to add to his own. He became a “double prophet,” a combination of Elijah and his already earned level of prophetic power.

Yehoshua too had achieved unfathomable greatness, but he did not actively look and see his Rebbi at his highest, because Moshe’s light was as the sun; impossible to directly see. Yehoshua stood as a recipient, not as the one looking higher and for more, as Moshe placed his two hands on Yehoshua to share his spiritual level with his student as a gift to all of Israel.

Yehoshua was still far greater than all prophets other than Moshe by virtue of his devoted service for so many years. However, he was perceived as less by the people because he was presented as having to consult with Elazar and the Urim v’Tumim. The people believed that he did not have the authority to decide on his own. They perceived him as less than he was, and so he became. (Karnei Re’eim; Pinchas)

This powerful thought points out two important concepts: 1) We cannot passively receive greatness, but must be active seekers of becoming more and greater. 2) When we perceive a great person as less than he is, we weaken him.

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