> Weekly Torah Portion > Intermediate > What's Bothering Rashi?

A Kiss of Hashem

V'Zot HaBracha (Deuteronomy 33-34 )

by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek

We are nearing the end, unfortunately, of the Holy Day season. The final days are Sh'mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. These are celebrated as two days outside of Israel, but are combined into one day in Eretz Yisroel. On Simchat Torah the Torah reading is the last parsha in the Torah, V'Zot HaBrachah, and the beginning of the first parsha, Bereishit. Following is from a verse in V'Zot HaBrachah.

Deuteronomy 34:5

"And Moses, the servant of Hashem, died there in the land of Moab by the word of Hashem."



By the word of Hashem - RASHI: With a kiss.

Can you see on what basis Rashi makes his comment that Moses died by a kiss of God?

Hint: Look at the Hebrew.

Your Answer:



An Answer: The Torah's Hebrew has the words "al pi Hashem." This means literally "by the mouth of God." Since this is an unusual phrase in this context, Rashi interprets these words to mean "by a kiss."

But that cannot be the simple meaning. God does not have a mouth with which to kiss someone, obviously. So what might the p'shat meaning be of these words?

Your Answer:



An Answer: The simple meaning of these words is "according to God." But what can that mean here - that Moses died 'according to God'? Doesn't everyone die "according to God"? Everyone who dies, dies as a result of God's decision. So we must look a better p'shat interpretation. As you read the verse, can you make sense of this phrase?

Hint: Read the whole verse.

Your Answer:



An Answer: The verse says: Moses died in "the land of Moab, by the word of God." Moses died in Moab, and not in the land of Israel, as he had longed for. So his dying in Moab (not just his death) was by the word of God. This would seem to be the simple meaning of these words.


Shabbat Shalom and
Best Wishes for a Chag Somayach,
Avigdor Bonchek


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