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A Disorderly End

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Rabbi 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 ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. 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.

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A Disorderly End

1) The Gemara[1] says מנצפ”ך צופים אמרום, the prophets instituted the final forms of the letters מנצפ”ך (ם, ן, ץ, ף, ך).[2] Why it is referred to as מנצפ”ך, as this is not in the order of the Alef-Beis? The correct order is כמנפ”ץ, as a פ precedes a צ and a כ is the first of all these?[3]


2) On the words צופים אמרום Rashi[4] comments נביאי הדורות, prophets of the generations. Why didn’t Rashi simply say נביאים?


The Gra[5] tells us that these letters weren’t instituted at one time rather it was done one at a time throughout the years by different prophets. First was ם, then the ן, followed by ץ and ף, and finally the ך. This is what Rashi is telling us with the words נביאי הדורות—in different generations, a different prophet instituted each letter. This explains why it is in the order[6] מנצפ”ך and not the order of the Alef-Beis since this was the order they were instituted.

[1] Megila 2b.

[2] The word אתה which we say in a Bracha represents the following: את (אתה)—the 22 letters of the Alef-Beis—and the five (אתהה has a Gematria of 5) letters of מנצפך. That is to say, we are praising Hashem with every expression possible.

[3] See the Ritva to Megila 2b. One answer is that this order—מנצפך—implies it was instituted by the prophets, as מנצפך can be understood as a contraction of מן צופיך (See Yerushalmi Megila 1:9).

[4] Rashi passed away while he was writing his commentary on shas. In Makos 19b after the Rashi titled Hachi Garsinan, it says, Rabbeinu gufo tahor v’yatzah nishmaso b’tahara lo pirush yoseir, our Rebbe’s body was pure and his soul left him in purity. There is no commentary of Rashi after this. However, in prints from other publishing companies, it says in Baba Basra 29a kan meis Rashi Za”l, Rashi passed away at this point. The Chida explains this apparent contradiction (Shem Hagedolim, Ma’areches Gedolim, Erech Rashi) that at the time Rashi died, he was in middle of learning two mesachtos — Baba Basra and Makkos. He was then summoned to the yeshiva shel maala (i.e., he would pass away). A mnemonic to remember this is found in ויקדש בם, he was sanctified through them (Bamidbar 20:13) where בם is an acronym for  בתראand מכות.

[5] Hamaor Hagadol, p. 691.

[6] The Gra says that the letters of מנצפך allude to that which Moshe forgot. מ is an allusion to the מקושש (a man gathering wood on Shabbos), where it says כי לא פרש מה יעשה לו, they placed him in custody because it hadn’t been clarified what should be done to him (Bamidbar 15:34). נ refers to the Pasuk—by the blasphemer—נקב שם ה, one who pronounces blasphemously the Name of Hashem (Vayikra 24:16) where it says ויניחהועל פי ה, they placed him under guard to clarify for themselves through Hashem (Vayikra 24:12). צ refers to צלפחד where it saysויקרב משה את משפטן לפני ה‘ , Moshe brought their claim before Hashem (Bamidbar 27:5. See Sanhedrin 8a). פ alludes to פסח שני where it says עמדו ואשמעה, stand and I will hear what Hashem will command you (Bamidbar 9:8). כ hints to כזבי בת צור where Rashi comments on והמה בכים, they were crying, that the law was concealed from Moshe so they all cried out in weeping (Bamidbar 25:6).

Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français
Author of Six Books including the recently released “Dazzling Money Insights: Illuminating Torah Essays about Money”

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