In our Gemara on Amud Aleph, we delve into a concept related to agency and delegation. Rava asserts that verbal instructions cannot be delegated to an agent, citing the Mishna as an example. The Mishna explains that in the case of a bill of divorce, the husband’s verbal instructions cannot be passed on to another agent. Verbal directives, it seems, cannot be effectively transferred through agency. This principle is known as “מילי לא מימסרן לשליח” – words cannot be delegated to an agent.
Rav Shlomo Kluger, in his work Shema Shelomo, cleverly applies this legal concept to answer metaphysical questions and draw insightful lessons. He begins by posing a question in the name of his son: We are taught that there is no reward for mitzvos (commandments) in this world. If so, does this not violate the prohibition of delaying payment for a worker’s labor (Vayikra 19:13)? He offers an answer, drawing a parallel from a halakhic case in Shulkhan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 339:7.
The case in question involves an agent appointed to hire workers. The agent hires them but also informs them that the householder will be responsible for their wages. In this scenario, neither the agent nor the householder violates the prohibition of delaying payment if the wages are not paid on time. The reason behind this is that the agent was only authorized to hire the workers and did not have the authority to determine the terms or times of payment. This aligns with the concept that verbal agreements cannot be assigned through agency, as we learn from our Gemara.
Rav Kluger suggests that similarly, we cannot hold Hashem liable for delaying our spiritual reward, as Moshe served as the agent “hiring” us on God’s behalf. Just as the agent’s role was limited in determining payment terms, Moshe’s role as an intermediary did not grant him the authority to assign the exact timing of spiritual rewards.
This interpretation provides a clever derush, or homiletical interpretation, but we can delve deeper into the allegorical depth of these teachings and employ our imagination. We can inquire why we needed Moshe to act as the agent in the first place. According to the Gemara in Shabbos 88b, the Jewish people were unable to endure direct revelation from God. When they heard the first two commandments, they experienced death from spiritual shock and needed revival. Consequently, they requested that Moshe be their messenger to receive the rest of the Torah. This suggests that the Jewish people had the opportunity to exist on a higher spiritual plane, where they could receive the Torah directly. However, such an existence would have meant the end of their physical lives as they knew it. They made the choice to live with the Torah in this world.
Upon reflecting on this idea, we can infer that physical existence necessitates a certain barrier or separation between humanity and God to maintain distinct and independent existence without being absorbed completely. Therefore, this inherent distance prevents us from receiving the true rewards of Torah, which are inherently other-worldly and transcend the limitations of our physical existence.
In essence, this discussion highlights the paradox of physical existence and spiritual rewards. While we live in a physical world with its limitations and separations, we strive to connect with the spiritual realm and attain rewards beyond this earthly plane.