Classics and Beyond Bereishis – Undiminished Sensitivity:

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    Bereishis – Undiminished Sensitivity:
    ויעש אלקים את שני המארת הגדלים את המאור הגדל לממשלת היום ואת המאור הקטן לממשלת הלילה ואת הכוכבים
    And G-d made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to dominate the day and the lesser luminary to dominate the night; and the stars (Bereishis 1:16).

    In Chullin (60b), Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi points out a contradiction. At first, the verse says that Hashem created two great luminaries, but then it classifies them as the larger one (the sun) and the smaller one (the moon).
    In truth, the sun and the moon were created equal in size. However, the moon said to Hashem, “Ribbono shel Olam, is it possible for two kings to make use of one crown?” Therefore, Hashem said to the moon, “Go ahead and diminish yourself.”
    Then the moon said, “Ribbono shel Olam, because I suggested something proper, must I make myself smaller?” So Hashem said to the moon, “You can rule in the day and the night.” The moon replied, “Of what value is this? Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight?” Hashem responded, “The Jews will calculate the days and the years by you.”
    The moon continued to complain and Hashem continued to appease it. Finally, when Hashem saw that the moon would not be consoled, He said, “Havi’u kapparah alai al she’miat’ti es hayare’ach – Bring an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.”
    That is why the korban mussaf of Rosh Chodesh is described as “chatas laShem – a sin-offering to Hashem” (Bamidbar 28:15).
    While the dialogue between Hashem and the moon poses many questions, there is a very meaningful lesson to be taken from Hashem’s final response of: “Havi’u kapparah alai al she’miat’ti es hayare’ach – Bring an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.”
    Indeed, the moon spoke out of turn. In subtle terms, it was saying, “Put the other guy down; make him smaller.” Hashem said, “You wanted the sun reduced; reduce yourself!” So why did Hashem have to “feel bad” for reducing its size and giving the moon what it deserved? Why was there a need for a monthly “atonement” on Hashem’s behalf?
    Rav Dov Ber Eliezerov, in his sefer Dvar Tzion (p. 193), explains that the Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson in the laws of interpersonal relations, bein adam la’chaveiro. If one is the cause of another person’s loss of stature, he needs atonement. Even when the loss is appropriate and warranted, one must be aware of his role in the other person’s disgrace.
    Whether it is a rebbi to a student, a parent to a child, or an employer to an employee, at times people have to come to difficult decisions. Even if those decisions are correct, feelings are bound to be hurt; people stand to be embarrassed. Although the person had to take this course of action, he should feel uncomfortable for putting another person in such a situation.
    After decreasing the size of the moon – which was fully warranted – Hashem “felt bad.” He made several attempts to mollify and “make it up” to the moon. Of course, Hashem did nothing wrong; He needs no atonement. However, we bring the korban “on His behalf” as a way to teach ourselves how to deal with others.
    Although we are confident we are doing the right thing, if our action involves putting down another person, we cannot act lightly. There needs to be a feeling of concern: “Perhaps I do need a kapparah.” And as Hashem Himself, we must try to make it up to the person.
    This interpretation is borne out from a comment of the Tosafos HaRosh (Shavuos 9a).
    In discussing the korban of Rosh Chodesh as an atonement for Hashem, he writes, “The Torah is teaching us proper conduct. If a servant sins against his master to the point that he needs to be punished, the master has an obligation to mollify and appease him.”
    Again, the Master – Hashem – did no wrong; the punishment to the servant was justified. Yet there is an obligation to placate the servant.
    Hashem asks that we help Him make it up to the moon, by bringing the korban for Him, even when the moon had it coming. Certainly, we have to appease those whom we ourselves have distressed or harmed – even when we were doing the right thing.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Dubner magid has problems with this as the moon was complaining that he is saying something good. Asking for making the sun smaller is not good. The sun was originally created greater than the moon. Hashem saw that people were not worthy of it, so he hid the extra light in the Torah. Now they became equal, so the moon wanted that Hashem should return the light to the sun and that was a nice thing. So Hashem convinced the moon that it is good to be small and Hashem felt bad that He made the moon smaller but at the redemption the light will be returned.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Rabbenu Bachaya in Parashas Pinchas says that the sun took the shame from the moon and did not answer back. This is the meaning of hanelavin veainim alvim, does who get ashamed but don’t ashame back on them the pasuk says veahavov katzes hashemesh bigvirosa, those who love Hashem are like the sun at its strength.


    let’s try a modern version: In reality, the sun is much larger than the moon. Also has original light, while the Moon is just the reflection. Hashem had rachmannut on the moon, and may made them appear of similar sizes. The Moon was not happy with that, did not appreciate the hesed and still complained.

    Also, shows a difficulty of judging a case where you are involved. The Moon maybe had a point, but how do you express the point where you you may benefit from the solution? If the moon would would have studied mussar, it would understood that it will be punished and not rewarded. It should have offered to become smaller itself, it could have ended up being bigger as a reward.


    Cute, selfish selflessness. I like it

    Reb Eliezer

    The Haflaah explains the meaning of when learning from a rebbi, we should see him as an angel of Hashem. An angel is stationary. Similarly, a rebbi should set aside his own edification for the benefit of thr talmidim. The Chasam Sofer explains that the moon agreed to be made smaller, so that the stars could be seen.

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