How Could Anyone Suspect Moshe of Infidelity?
Five Perspectives on this Enigmatic Story—and the Maharal’s Definition of Marriage
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Class Summary:
This class was presented Sunday morning, 27 Sivan 5776, July 3, 2016, at Or Chaim Shul in Monsey, NY. It is probably one of the seemingly most absurd statements in the Talmud: “Moses heard and he fell on his face. What was the rumor Moses heard? Rabbi Shmuel the son of Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonoson: He heard that they suspected him of having relations with a married woman.” But this seems insane, to say the least. Where did the Talmud get this from? The Torah merely states that Korach was challenging Moses’ leadership, not his fidelity? Furthermore, how could anybody take such a rumor seriously? How could Korach and his cronies spread such a ludicrous blood libel against the greatest prophet of all times, who gave the Jewish people all the laws against adultery and promiscuity, and about whom G-d said that “he is loyal in my entire home?”  The class explores five perspectives, three of them from the Maharal of Prague. From his first interpretation we discover that the Talmud was not offering a new story here; rather it was explaining the depth and sophistication behind Korach’s mutiny. Korach’s argument was not hollow and brute; it was profound, and hence managed to attract the hearts of 250 Jewish prominent men. His argument is not to be easily dismissed; it is a wise viewpoint that requires deliberation. The argument was this: Moses is disrupting a sacred marriage. The concept of a Moshe, of a “Rebbe” in Jewish life according to Korach, is corrupt and dangerous.