Hebrew | Francais

Search


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan 5781

Parashat Hashavua: Who Heard Ten?

Harav Yosef Carmel

Parashat Vaetchanan, which we are reading, as usual, on Shabbat Nachamu, returns us to the Ten Commandments, which were given in a “once in world history” event – the revelation of Hashem to Bnei Yisrael at Mt. Sinai. We also read the parasha of Shema, which we recite twice a day, thereby accepting Hashem’s sovereignty over us. One thing that unites these special Torah portions is the matter of shemi’ah (hearing).

There is a machloket what exactly we/our forefathers heard at Sinai. The simple reading of our parasha indicates that we heard all ten of the dibrot (or devarim, as the Torah calls them) from Hashem directly: “… the sound of devarim you (pl.) are hearing … and He told you His covenant, which He commanded you to do, the ten devarim” (Devarim 4:12-13). “Face to face Hashem spoke with you at the mountain from the fire … [The Ten Commandments] … these devarim Hashem spoke with your whole assemblage …” (ibid. 5: 4-19).

The opinion of “the Rabbis” in Shir Hashirim Rabba (1:2) indeed says that the nation heard all the dibrot directly from Hashem. Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmael (Yitro 4) also says that Hashem said all of the Ten Commandments in one burst of speech and then specified each commandment individually.

On the other hand, there is another opinion in Shir Hashirim Rabba (ibid.) that the nation as a whole heard only two dibrot. Rabbi Yehoshua learns from “He shall kiss me from the kisses of His mouth” that we only heard some of the dibrot, specifically the first two – “I am Hashem …” and “You will not have other gods …” Others learn it from gematria. “Moshe commanded us Torah,” has a numerical value of 611, as the other two of the 613 mitzvot we did not hear originally from Moshe but directly from Hashem. The gemara (Makkot 23b-24a) advances this approach based on Moshe’s statement: “I am going to stand between Hashem and you at that time to tell you the word of Hashem” (Devarim 5:5).

The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim II:33) suggests a third possibility. At Sinai the people did not hear Hashem’s words; only Moshe did. What the people experienced was the powerful, wondrous sounds and sights of Hashem speaking to Moshe, who shared the specific content with them.

After “begging pardon” from the great participants in this machloket, we humbly suggest an approach that can “make peace” between the above. According to tradition, all the Jewish people throughout the generations stood at Sinai and accepted the Torah together. This includes especially righteous people, those who were apparently wicked, and the many who fell between the extremes. Perhaps the fully righteous heard all the commandments from Hashem directly. The wicked heard only the sound of Hashem speaking to Moshe. The average people heard two commandments from Hashem and the rest through Moshe.

Specifically, in these difficult times, we should remember and stress that we are one nation. All of us, the different parts of the nation over the generations, were at Sinai. Let us decrease hatred and polarization. We should remember that “anochi” (i.e., one’s ego) stands between Hashem and us. Let us subdue that which divides us. With the help of an improved approach to holding ourselves personally accountable, let us turn the sad days into joyous ones.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther

Together with all cholei Yisrael

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland

 

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

 

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

 

Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9 ,5776

 

Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20

 

Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781

 

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776

 

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774

 

Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

RMeir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

&

Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780

 

RYaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

 

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778

 

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777

 

R' Yitzchak Eizik

ben Yehuda Leib Usdan a"h,

Av 29

 

R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 ,5779

&

Mrs. Gita Klein z"l

Av 4

 

R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781
 

Gital Gila

bat Eliyahu Michael a”h

Av 21

Hemdat Yamim
is endowed by Les z"l  & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
& Louis and Lillian Klein z”l

 

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.