Moses Did Not Die
The last Torah portion, V'Zos HaBracha, is never read in shul on Shabbat. However, in the customary review of the weekly Torah portion performed by each individual on Shabbat eve, the portion studied during Sukkot is V'Zot HaBracha.
The portion begins, "This is the blessing which Moses... blessed the Children of Israel before his death." However, the Talmud states that "Moses did not die." It explains, "Just as before he stood and served on High, so does he now stand and serve on High."
"On High" describes Moses' Divine service not just in Heaven but here on earth.
How, then, might we understand when the Torah says "before his death"? This means before there was even a possibility of thinking he had died; Moses' blessing was given before the incident which could be interpreted with physical eyes as death in the literal sense.
It is not surprising that one might come to an incorrect conclusion concerning Moses' passing or that his service is not in the physical world. For this view itself is a result of the contraction of G-d's presence by which G-d created the Universe.
Indeed, some scholars misinterpreted the teaching of G-d's concealment of His Infinite Self in creating this world.
They understood that G-d had literally removed Himself and his Essence, G-d forbid, from this world and only guides it from above. Just as G-d is not removed from this world, similarly, Moses is not removed from this world.
With this knowledge, one can go out and explain that, in truth, Moses did not die. There is no fundamental difference between now and before except that the possibility was created to see it that way.
It is certainly good if these words are readily accepted.
But how should one answer questions that people may have?
An example may be found in the dynamics between a student and his teacher.
When a small child asks the teacher a question, to which the teacher does not know the answer, the response often is, "When you grow up you'll understand." Similarly, one can respond: "This is the reality, even if we do not understand!"
We can take another illustration from the holiday of Simchat Torah.
Though the Torah scroll is covered when we dance with it and its wisdom is hidden from us, the fact of its truth remains.
Similarly, the Tzemach Tzedek (third Chabad Rebbe), said once on Shabbat eve that Moshiach would come. Someone asked him, "But does it not say in the Talmud that Moshiach cannot come on Shabbat eve?"
The Rebbe said, "When Moshiach comes he will answer all questions and he will answer this question as well!"
Adapted from Toras Menachem, Simchat Torah, 5711 (1950).