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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Ki Sisa(69)

This week's sedra tells of the sin of the Golden Calf.

With the readers' permission, I will depart from my usual Rashi analysis this week and focus on an unusual phenomenon in our Torah.


The Torah often repeats a key word within a given defined section, seven times. I call this the Seven Code. (See my book "Studying the Torah: A Guide to In-depth Interpretation".) Its purpose is not clear to me, but it is an enhancing embellishment to the Torah. We find a striking example in this week's sedra, Ki Sisa. From verse 31:18 through Chapter 32 the Torah gives us a description of events when the People believed something terrible happened to Moses because he was delayed in his return from the summit of Mt. Sinai after received the Tablets of the Covenant. This caused the People to fear that he was gone; they then turned to building a golden calf to "replace" him. When we count the times the word "luchos" (tablets) appears we find it is repeated 7 times between verses 31:18- 32:19. Those verses discuss the first pair of "luchos" that Moses brought down from the mountain. Then Moses went up again and brought down the second pair; this is recounted in verses 34:1 until the end of the sedra. In this long section about the second tablets we also find the word "luchos" repeated 7 times. This is interesting, at least.

But when we look closer we see a pattern within the Seven pattern.


Notice that the first seven times it says "luchos", the word is repeated twice in one verse (verse 31:18) then a long interval of verses until again the word returns in five quick successions. (verses 32:15-18). Then when we look at the second group of seven, we find a similar division, but this time reversed. First, a quick succession of five "luchos" (verse 34:1-4), then a long interval and then two more at the end in close succession (verses 34:28, 29). So we have a pattern of 2.5-52. Like a ten code within the seven code. Ten, standing for the Ten Commandments.

This is interesting enough. But let us look further.


The story of the broken Tablets is repeated again in the Book of Deuteronomy in Parashas Ekev. When we look at the section which speaks of the first Tablet we find the word "luchos" repeated seven times (Chapter 9, verses 8-17). Then when we look at the section describing the second "luchos" we again the word repeated seven times! (See Chapter 10 verses 1-5).

I think this is astounding, if I do say so! To my knowledge, no commentator has pointed this out. Beyond the unusual pattern repeated in two separate Books of the Torah, there is another point. The Biblical critics, who do not believe in Torah from Sinai, claim that Deuteronomy was written hundreds of years after the other Books of the Torah. Here we find a subtle (secret?) pattern unmentioned anywhere, yet repeated in the two Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy (supposedly written hundreds of years apart).


King David wrote in Psalms (119:18) "Open my eyes that I may see the wonders of Your Torah."

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

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