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14 Adar 5775 - March 5, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Sparks of Greatness
HaRav Moshe Cordovero, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 23rd Tammuz 5330

Rabbeinu Moshe was the son of Rabbi Yaakov, one of the exiles from Cordova, Spain in 5282 (1522). He is often called the Remak after the initials of his name.

He himself writes that during his youth until the age of twenty he heard numerous calls from Heaven to the depths of his soul, awakening him to serve Hashem as he should. To this end Hakodosh Boruch Hu sent him to his great and holy rabbi, the mekubal Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz zt"l who opened the gates of Torah and avodas Hashem for him.

An inkling into the greatness in Torah that he gleaned from his rebbe can be taken from Rabbi Moshe's own testimony.

"When we would go out to the fields to learn Torah without iyun, chiddushim were sent to us from Shomayim such as are unfathomable unless one has personally experienced such a revelation."

Subsequently, Rabbi Moshe opened a yeshiva where he taught throngs of talmidim.

The Ramo of Fano zt"l writes in his sefer Pelach Horimon that Rabbeinu, in addition to being extremely taken up with teaching the talmidei hayeshiva Torah and horo'oh, also acted as rov and dayan, judging cases between people and directing the Am Hashem.

It is told of the Ramo of Fano that he sent large sums of money to the widow of Rabbeinu so that she would allow him to copy his holy sefer Ohr Yokor, a commentary on the Zohar Hakodosh.


Rabbeinu's sefer Tomer Devorah serves as a basis for Toras hamussar.

It is told of the mashgiach Reb Eliyohu Lopian zt"l that he traveled to daven at the kever of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. At the tziyun he called out emotionally, "Rabbeinu Hakodosh, we learn your sefer Tomer Devorah, which has been of tremendous benefit to us. The Alter of Kelm zt"l instructed us to study your sefer every leil Shabbos, which we do with the talmidim. Therefore we beseech you to intercede on behalf of all the holy yeshivos that follow in your ways, that they may have a continued existence and bring out talmidim hagunim, yirei Shomayim ve'ovdei Hashem be'emes."

His distinguished talmid, the author of Reishis Chochmoh, is also known as having learned most of his Torah wisdom from Rabbi Moshe.


In his haskomoh to the sefer Tomer Devorah, the Sheloh Hakodosh writes that a person who finishes this sefer once a week or once a month is assured of being a ben Olam Habo.

Furthermore, he quotes in the sefer HaSheloh (Shaar Ha'osios Os Lamed) from Rabbi Moshe Cordovero: "I learned from an elderly man that as a segulah for banishing bad thoughts from one's mind one should say the posuk, "Eish tomid tukad al hamizbeiach lo sichbeh." Writes the Sheloh Hakodosh, "It is obvious to me that this old man was Eliyohu Hanovi zochur latov, but in his humility the Remak did not reveal the fact to us"


The large and mournful levaya that took place upon Rabbeinu's histalkus is described in the sefer Or Yoshor by the Maharam Papirosch.

"A large crowd walked behind the mittoh, headed by the Arizal. As they went, the latter said to those around him, `Do you see what I see? I see two tongues of flame over the mittoh calling out the praise of this lofty niftar for whom Toras Hashem was the greatest treasure throughout his days."

A similar account is retold by the Ramo of Fano, who adds that the Beis Yosef, a talmid muvhak of Rabbeinu, eulogized his Rebbi as he was buried, "We are being gonez here the aron haTorah."

At greater length, the Chidah, in his sefer Nachal Kedumim (Parshas Ki Seitzei) repeats the hesped of the Arizal: The Arizal said, "It is written (Devorim 21:22), `If a man has a sin for which he is judged to die and he dies, then you shall hang him on a tree . . .' The meaning here is as follows. Using the word cheit (sin) to mean chisoron, if a man dies completely lacking sin then you should blame (literally "hang") his death on the Tree, referring to the Tree of Knowledge from which Odom Horishon ate. This man was only niftar because death was decreed on mankind due to the cheit Eitz Hada'as."

Concludes the Chidah, "Here we have clear testimony of the Arizal that Rabbeinu was not guilty of a single sin."

It is interesting to note that the high regard in which the Arizal held Rabbeinu was despite the fact that his derech in Toras hakaboloh differed and their opinions often clashed.

HaRav Chaim Vital, a talmid of the Arizal, relates in his sefer Hachezyonos that he, Reb Chaim, met Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in a dream and the latter told him that the Toras hakaboloh of the Arizal is Toras emes and that now in the World of Truth he too is learning the kabbolas ha'Arizal.

"Both ways are correct, but my way (that of the Remak) is according to pshat, for the beginners who are only starting to learn this chochmah. Whereas the derech of your Rebbe the Arizal is the more thorough, most important one, as I am now learning up here."

Also in the sefer Hachezyonos he brings the question that was asked: Why did Rabbeinu die? He answers, "Rabbeinu did not find even one tzaddik in his generation who was perfect as he wanted; had he found such a person he would not have passed from this world."

Amazing words that we ordinary Yidden do not begin to understand, but which remain an ethereal secret between Hashem and His close servants.


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