- For the Sake of the Torah
Rav Shach related that when the Malbim began work on his
monumental commentary on Torah and Tanach, Rav Reuven Denenburger and
Rav Lipa Mirrer (the Malbushei Yom Tov)1 went to speak to
him, to try to prevail upon him to relinquish (or postpone) the project, on the grounds that because of his extraordinary intellect and genius his time would be better spent finishing his Artzos HaChaim, a commentary on
The Malbim rejected this idea, however. He told his
visitors that he saw a great need for this kind of commentary on Tanach,
for it would help to counteract the widespread and ever growing allure that the Haskalah was exerting upon large sectors of the community. If you yourselves will undertake to write this commentary instead of me, the
Malbim offered sarcastically, then I would be freed to continue
work on my Artzos HaChaim!
My father recounts that he once heard from Rav Zelig Reuven
Bengis, the chief rabbi of the Eidah Charedis in Jerusalem and author of
Liflagos Reuven, that when he studied in the Volozhin yeshivah he heard
a remark from Rav Chaim Soloveitchik to the effect that one particular interpretation of a verse in Tehillim by Malbim was so
extraordinary that it could not have been said without Divine inspiration (ruach hakodesh).
The verse which drew this comment from Rav
Chaim was in Tehillim 75:3-4: Ki ekach mo'ed Ani meisharim eshpot. Nimogim eretz vechol yoshveha Anochi tikanti amude'ha selah. This verse is usually translated along these lines: When I
shall seize the appointed time (Ki ekach mo'eid), I shall judge
with fairness. The earth and all its inhabitants are melted, I have firmly established its pillars. It is unclear who the speaker in these verses is
supposed to be, and the commentators offer different ideas. Malbim explains that Fairness itself is portrayed as uttering these words. He also explains the word sgun to mean to slip or fall (as in
Tehillim 26:1), instead of appointed time. Based on these assumptions, he translates the verse as follows: When I take a fall, I, Fairness, will judge (decide) that the earth and all its inhabitants should melt away, for I (Fairness) have firmly established [the earths] pillars. In other words, the earth and civilization are built upon the
foundation of fairness, without which they can no longer continue to exist. When Fairness falters, the very existence of the world is threatened.
This is the interpretation that prompted Rav Chaim to marvel at
the exceptional insight with which Malbim was blessed.
1. The Rosh Yeshivah speaks very highly of Rav Lipa Mirrer, who was the rebbi of Rav Isser Zalman (Rav Shachs uncle). He
quotes his chiddushim often in Avi Ezri