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November 27, 2015 / 15 Kislev, 5776
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Q & A: ‘The Scepter Shall Not Depart From Judah’ (Part II)


Now, although Moses’ mission was to redeem the Jewish people from Egypt, it is obvious that if they and Moses had not sinned in the incidents of the spies (Numbers 14) and the hitting of the rock (Numbers 20), they would have merited to sojourn eternally in the land of Israel with Moses – who came from the tribe of Levi, not Judah – as the Jewish people’s leader.

Furthermore, in Parshat Ve’zot Ha’beracha, we read (Deuteronomy 33:5), “Vayehi bi’shurun melech b’hitateif rashei am yachad shivtei Yisrael – He was the king in Israel, when the heads of the people gathered with the tribes of Israel.” Rashi says “king” refers to G-d, but Ibn Ezra says it refers to Moses. Ramban also cites midrashim that it refers to Moses. The Ohr Hachayim derives from this verse the halacha that the appointment of a king requires the presence of a beit din of 71 sages in the presence of the people. Thus, the verse obviously refers to a flesh-and-blood king.

Now, if the tribe of Judah was promised kingship, how could Moses, who came from the tribe of Levi, potentially serve as king of the Jewish people in Israel?

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

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