INSIGHT: One Mountain – Two Names

A Heavenly Kiss

A Heavenly Kiss

The time came. Moshe, the servant of Hashem, passed away. His soul left him “by the mouth of HaShem,” or in the words of Rashi, “by a kiss.” A kiss? From HaShem? What’s that all about? The Rambam shared with us his understanding:

“This divine kiss means that Moshe died while experiencing an immense pleasure that came from the knowledge of HaShem and his great love for Him.”

Moreh Nevuchim, Volume 3, Chapter 51

Indeed, that Divine kiss Moshe experienced, was what our Sages described as the highest level of understanding HaShem, a.k.a. “the 50th gate of understanding.”

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One Mountain – Two Names

In Parshas V’Zos HaBrachah, the mountain on which Moshe passed away is called Mount Nevo, yet is referred to in other places of the Torah (in Ha’azinu and Parshas Pinchas) as Mount Avarim.

Our great Sages give us some additional insights into these two names. They tell us how Avarim, meaning “passage,” and Nevo, related to the word Nevuah (prophecy) are truly fitting names for this mountain.

Here’s four explanations:

  1. It was through this mountain pass that Bnei Yisrael passed over the Jordan River into the Land of Israel.
  2. It was here that Moshe passed on the leadership of the nation to his prize student, Yehoshua.
  3. On this mountain, all the Land of Israel, and all the events that would happen there, passed before Moshe’s eyes. Moshe the prophet was experiencing the ultimate prophecy. So, it’s Mount Nevo, the mountain of Nevuah prophecy.
  4. Our Sages of the Talmud tell us, “Fifty Gates of Understanding were created in the world, and 49 were given to Moshe Rabbeinu” (Rosh Hashanah 21b). Now, as Moshe was about to enter Heaven, he was awarded the 50th gate of understanding.” So, Nevo (נבו) can be broken into Nun (50) Bo (“in it”).
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