Friday, January 12, 2007

Parshas / Sefer Shemos

While we all refer to this book of the Torah as Shemos or Exodus, it wasn't uncommon for other Gaonim, Rishonim, etc., to assign different names to each of the books. Interestingly, the Bahag calls Shemos "Sefer Sheini." While he gives a proper name to the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th books, he simply refers to Shemos as "The 2nd book."

The Netziv answers beautifully why this is. He explains that Sefer Sheini implies that it is a continuation of that which came before it, and the Behag, as we call it, named the 1st book of the Torah Bereishis. Essentially, the Behag is extending the idea of "creation" from the first book to include the 2nd book.

If you look at this book of the Torah, the overarching theme is Kabbalas haTorah/receiving the Torah. The Behag, by including it in with the 1st book is saying that part of the reason the world was created was for Kabbalas haTorah. It isn't another story in the Torah which we are merely to learn from; rather, we must understand that the this is part of the reason we are created; to accept the Torah.

Unfortunately, many peoples' attitudes toward Torah is one that for one reason or another, it often takes a seat on the backburner. If we understand that receiving and continuing the transmission of Torah (read: learning) is just as important as the creation of man, animals, etc., perhaps our attitudes towards Limud haTorah would be different.


Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Very nice interpretation on why it's sefer sheini.

12:01 PM, January 12, 2007

Anonymous Greg said...

The Giving of the Torah is really only a small part of Sefer Shemos; it represents the acceptance of the Divine Will as authoritative (that's why we make such a big deal about learning Torah). The main theme of the book is the (re)institution of God's kingship in the world. The Children of Israel act as the foundation upon which the Names of God are realized in this world.

It is still appropriate to call it Sefer Sheni, as this was God's original intent upon creating the world; things just took a little longer than planned.

3:13 PM, January 12, 2007

Anonymous Greg said...

Wow, it looks like R. Gottlieb ripped you off (just kidding, I'm sure it's just a coincidence).

3:23 PM, January 12, 2007


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