How are we to understand the ma’amar chazal that describes Moshe Rabeinu having a vision in which he saw Rabbi Akiva teaching Torah and Rabbi Akiva was teaching things that even Moshe Rabeinu didn’t know? How is it possible that Moshe Rabeinu shouldn’t know what Rabbi Akiva knew?
It states in a ma’amar that Moshe Rabeinu foresaw that Rabbi Akiva would be saying chiddushei Torah that Moshe Rabeinu himself didn’t understand. Let me explain that. If Moshe Rabeinu would come here right now and he’d see this tape recorder – if we’d ask him to handle it do you think he’d know what to do?!
You think so?! Well, all right. Let’s say you’re right. Do you think he’d be able to make one? Would he be able to make a tape recorder? I don’t know if he could do that. After all, he’s a human being. He’s a Navi – but who said a Navi can repair a tape recorder.
So therefore, there is no question that Moshe Rabeinu knew kol ha’Torah kula. And he knew the whole Torah thoroughly. He knew it fundamentally. Fundamentally is the key word.
Let me tell you a little story as a mashal. There was a big lamdan in Lithuania who I knew. He was a big talmid chochom who learned all of Shas and he knew it through and through. Then he began learning the Ktzos. And he was overwhelmed with happiness with the Ktzos. It was so geshmak for him – the chiddushim of the Ktzos are nuggets and each one is such a pleasure. So they asked him, “Didn’t you know these things already? They are all based on the Shas that you already know so thoroughly.” He said to them, “These things I didn’t know because I didn’t think about them. But if you would have asked me the right questions I would have been able to say them myself in the course of time.” Fundamentally he knew it. The yesodos were there. But not everything had been worked out in his mind.
So too, Moshe Rabeinu was able to tell you everything. But you would have to give him a chance however. He knew it so thoroughly that he wouldn’t have any question – any confusion. If you would have asked him a question, he could think it out and he could tell you everything that you have to know
But right now, suppose you would suddenly spring on him a Ktzos. He didn’t think about it yet. “Wonderful, wonderful,” he would say. “Mein kinder, I have hana’ah from you.”
When Moshe Rabeinu heard the chiddushim from Rabbi Akiva, he said, “Wonderful! Wonderful! I don’t understand the whole chain of thought right now. Give me a chance. I’ll get there if you give me one more minute.” He was able to work out all the chiddushim because he knew everything so thoroughly – fundamentally. But when he heard it right now, when he saw the vision of Rabbi Akiva, the chiddushim were sometimes surprising. It was a beautiful chiddush and Moshe Rabeinu admired it. And sometimes he’d be able to disprove the chiddush too. It can be a wrong chiddush as well.
But when he heard it, he admired it so much because at that moment he hadn’t thought about it. Moshe Rabeinu, after all, wasn’t Hakodosh Boruch Hu who could think of everything. He knew kol ha’Torah kula thoroughly and after he would think into it, sooner or later, he would come li’amiso shel davar and he’d know the truth. But if you spring something on him suddenly – a chiddush of Torah that he didn’t yet think of – for the moment he’s taken aback. “Beautiful. That’s wonderful to hear,” he’d say.