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The Elders Speak
The Yaaros Devash is bothered why the Gemara says the elders of that
generation, when they contemplated the difference between Moshe and Yehoshua,
said the face of Moshe is like the sun whereas the face of Yehoshua is like the
moon. Why does it say the elders of that generation and not also the young
people? He explained with that which it says in the Sefarim of the Rishonim
that the Jewish people didn’t see the sun or moon for 40 years when they were
in the desert because the cloud covered them during the day and the pillar of
fire at night. So, those born in the desert never saw the sun and moon and
therefore didn’t know how to distinguish between the two. Consequently, the
elders are the ones who said this statement.
Another answer given is that the elders knew Moshe and
Yehoshua their entire lives, unlike those that were younger. As a result, only
they can make such a remark.
The Sefer החתם
סופר ותלמידיו relates
that when the Chassam Sofer was sick, the Rav of the city of Pressburg, R’
Daniel Prossnitz, came to the Chassam Sofer and
told him in the name of the Beis Din that they decided his son, R’ Shmuel Wolf
(known as the Kesav Sofer), should take his place. At that time, R’ Daniel
Prossnitz praised the Kesav Sofer in front of his father and the Chassam Sofer
smiled. Then with all his strength that he had left, the Chassam Sofer quoted
the Chazal that ‘the elders of that generation, when they contemplated the
difference between Moshe and Yehoshua, said the face of Moshe is like the sun
whereas the face of Yehoshua is like the moon. אוי לה
לאותה בושה אוי לה לאותה כלימה; Woe, for that shame, Woe for that disgrace.’ The elders of the
generation that recognized Moshe when he was at Yehoshua’s age now said that
already then Moshe’s face was like the sun and the face of Yehoshua now at this
age is only like the moon. On this, they said אוי לה
לאותה בושה אוי לה לאותה כלימה. The Chassam Sofer continued that the people don’t remember me
when I was the age that my son (the Kesav Sofer) is now. But I remember and at
his age, I didn’t reach the level he is on now.
R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai
Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman
Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites
and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim
where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching
Jews of all levels of observance.
He (1759-1846) was the closest colleague and
confidant of the Chassam Sofer. He recommended the Chassam Sofer for the
vacant position of rabbi of Pressburg and it was largely due to his conduct of
the negotiations that the Chassam Sofer was appointed. Considered a foremost authority in matters of Halacha,
he served the Pressburg community for over 50 years. He also
occupied himself with Kabbala and used to fast frequently. His grave is in the Rabbinic graveyard and is
immediately adjacent to the Chassam Sofer.
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