Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Parshas Yisro

אָנכִי יְהוָה אֱלהֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים

" I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." (Sefer Shemos, 20:2)

There is an interesting discussion in the Gemara Shabbos (120a) about the first word of the 10 commandments, “Anochi.” The Gemara there discusses different possibilities for the proper way to render the Roshei Tavos (Alept Nun Chuf Yud) of Anochi. The first opinion states that it should be rendered, “Amira Neimah Kisvis Yehavis/A Beautiful Saying was Written and Given (the Torah)”. The final opinion, however is that the Roshei Tavos should be read in reverse, rendering them, “Yehavei, Ksivi, Neemarim Anochi/(it was) Given, Written, Trusted words.”

The Meshech Chochmah says that to understand this argument, one must understand a dispute in a Gemara in Gittin (60a). The gemara there, in the context of another dispute, brings different opinions about how the Torah was transmitted to Moshe. While we certainly believe that Moshe received the Torah at Har Sinai, we also believe that the transmission continued during the 40 years in the desert; exactly when the Torah was written down is the subject of the dispute. One opinion states that as Hashem gave a Parsha to Moshe, he immediately wrote it down and then told it to the people – and so it went with the entire Torah. According to this opinion, he had a stack of individual parshiyos which he then sewed together into a sefer Torah. The other opinion, however says that Moshe didn’t write anything down until after all 40 years.

The Meshech Chochmah fits these two disputes together, saying that how you hold in the first dispute (how to render the Roshei Tavos) is dependent upon how you hold on the second dispute. The opinion that says that Moshe wrote down the Torah as he went along fits in with the opinion of “Amirah Neimah Kisvis Yehavis, explaining that a “nice saying”/a parsha was given to Moshe which he then wrote, and it was given over to the Jewish people. But, the opinion which states that the Torah was written only at the end of 40 years fits in well with the opinion that we read Roshei Tavos “Anochi” backwards (Yehavei Ksiva Neemanim Amarei), saying that Yehavei, G-d gave the whole Torah first, Ksiva, it was then written, and lest we think that some of the Torah was forgotten in the 40 years until it was written it says Neemanim Amarei, they are trusted words.

Tosfos, however, asks a question on the opinion that Moshe didn’t write the Torah until the end of the 40 year desert-stint. He says that if you look in the Torah and Rashi, a “Sefer baBris” is referred to, with Rashi saying that it was a Torah consisting of the Torah from Bereishis until that point in time. So, we see, says Tosfos, that it must be that it was written down as each Parsha was taught. See Tosfos (Gittin, 60a) as to why it is stated that it wasn’t written down at the end of 40 years, and what the essence of the dispute really is.

Anyway, according to Tosfos, all sides agree that in the desert, G-d will tell Moshe a portion which he would then write, and only then transmit the message to the people. I think that this method of “little by little” is a valuable lesson not only in one’s approach to Torah/Mitzvos, but to life in general. When one wants to take more mitzvos upon him/herself, this approach is the best way for each mitzvah to stick with them forever. Similarly, it may be frustrating to some to wait X number of years until they can work their way up the food chain at work. Trying to bypass the natural course of nature, in this case, won’t lead to anything good. If a person takes whatever task they are working on day by day, they’ll see great rewards as time goes on.


Anonymous cpa said...

This is the best yet. I love these type of disputes and then it all fits together reminds me of seminary thanks so much.

3:07 PM, February 07, 2007


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