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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS YISRO 5771 BS"D

Ch. 19, v. 1: "Bachodesh hashlishi ba'yom ha'zeh bo'u midbar Sinoi" - In the third month on this day they came to the Sinai desert - The gemara Shabbos 86 draws a timeline from the bnei Yisroel's entering midbar Sinai until the receiving of the Torah. Although our verse is conspicuously ambiguous about which day of the third month the bnei Yisroel entered the Sinai desert, the gemara explains that "ba'yom ha'zeh" means on Rosh Chodesh Sivon. There is a disagreement further on in the gemara as to whether the Torah was given of the 6th or the 7th of Sivon. All of this is most puzzling. One would think that the apex of all this world's occurences, the receipt of our Holy Torah, would be spelled out in all its glory. This is all the more perplexing according to the Ramban, who posits that there is a unique mitzvoh to relate to our descendants in detail the "maamad hanisgov," the most elevated assembly at Har Sinai at the time of "kabolas haTorah." Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim laTorah says that this teaches us that the Torah is so sublime that it is above time restraints. These words of Rabbi Sorotzkin are seemingly vague, but will be used in formulating an answer to a comment of the Maharsh"o, which will follow shortly.

An alternate answer might be that had the Torah pinpointed an exact day that the Torah was given we might feel that there is a time restraint, and in different eras and/or life stages Torah study waxes or wanes.

The gemara Sotoh explains that Moshe's mother was no longer able to hide him (Shmos 2:3) because when he turned three months old it was the 6th of Sivon, the date on which the Torah would be given (80 years later). Moshe's countenance was so luminous that it lit up the house at night, so she had to "ship him off." The Maharsh"o says that it is astonishing that there would be such an affect PRIOR to it even happening. To give some rationale for this statement two insights of the Mahara"l of Prague are cited. He asks why two verses earlier (2:1) it says that a man took a woman and in the following verse she conceived and gave birth. Why the obscurity of their identities? He answers that had the verse said that Amrom took Yocheved for a wife and they had a child, one might mistakenly surmise that this world merited having a Moshe Rabbeinu because the leader of the generation took a daughter one of the most elevated of the sons of Yaakov, and otherwise this might not have happened. WRONG! Moshe had to come into being even, if necessary, from the union of the simplest man and simplest woman.

On our verse, "Bachodesh hashlishi ba'yom ha'zeh bo'u midbar Sinoi" he asks why it doesn't say this in the common manner, "Va'y'hi bachodesh hashlishi va'yovo'u " He answers in a similar manner. Had the verse used the normal format we might incorrectly say that "And it was on this day of the 3rd month the bnei Yisroel arrived at this location," and the timing was such that they happened to be in the right place at the right time and therefore the bnei Yisroel received the Torah, and otherwise they, so to say, would have "missed the offer." Once again, WRONG! The giving of the Torah to the bnei Yisroel was embedded in the creation of the world (see gemara A.Z. 3a on the words "yom HAshishi"). By not beginning this parsha with a connective Vov, which would indicate that this was just a happening in a series of events, but rather, a statement of a set date and place, and then they came, teaches us that they HAD TO be there, not that they HAPPENED to be there. The wording of our verse teaches the absolute necessity of this event. We thus have two parallel "it has to happen because it was embedded in the creation" situations. To add another ingredient into this m?lange, the earlier mentioned insight of Rabbi Sorotzkin, that the Holy Torah is above time constrictions, we can thus say that the giving of the Torah specifically through Moshe was embedded in the creation, so even before it took place this incident is latent, dormant, and already existent. It is now well understood how Moshe could shine brightly on the pre-anniversary of the date of the giving of the Torah. (n.l.)

Ch. 19, v. 8: "Va'yaanu chol ho'om yachdov kole asher di'ber Hashem naa'seh" - And all the nation responded in unison all that Hashem has spoken we will do - What does "yachdov" add to our understanding? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that it means that they literally responded in unison, not even hearing the beginning of anyone else also going along with him. This means that each single person of the bnei Yisroel agreed to accept the Torah on his own.

There is a powerful lesson in this insight. A person might feel that he should comply with all the Torah's dictates when he has a support group, i.e. a community that has a shochet, a melamed, etc. however, if he finds himself all on his own he might weaken and say that the acceptance of the Torah was a communal act, and in turn, only in a communal setting is it incumbent to follow the Torah. The fact that each and everyone of the bnei Yisroel present at the time the Torah was offered accepted it individually, negates this erroneous thought. (Ksav Sofer)

Ch. 19, v. 8: "Va'yaanu chol ho'om yachdov kole asher di'ber Hashem naa'seh" - the gemara Shabbos 88 says that swhen the bnei Yisroel placed "naa'seh" before "nishma" (Shmos 24:7) sixty myriads of angels came and tied two crowns on the heads of each of the men, one corresponding to "naa'seh," and one corresponding to "nishma." The gemara does not say that the crowns were in response to these two words, but rather, in response to the prioritizing. If so, only one crown seems sufficient. Let us raise a second question. How did the bnei Yisroel say "naa'seh" first? How can "we do" if we don't first hear and become apprised of what we should do? Obviously there was an inherent understanding that the was a "nishma" first. Their "naa'seh v'nishma" meant that after the obvious necessary "nishma" they would "do" and then "nishma" even more, meaning that once they've completed their basic responsibility they were eager to hear more details, more depth. We thus have "nishma" twice, and for this they merited two crowns each. (Rabbi Avrohom Gurwitz)

Ch. 19, v. 3: "Ko somar l'veis Yaakov v'sa'geid livnei Yisroel" - Thus shall you say to the house of Yaakov and you shall relate to bnei Yisroel - Rashi explains that beis Yaakov refers to the women, while bnei Yisroel refers to the men. To the women relate the Torah in a sofr pleasant manner, while to the men punishments and minutiae should be related, matters that are as harsh as "gidin." "Gidin" on a straight-forward manner means a type of growth whose taste is very bitter.

In the verses that follow we see no two versions of relating the Torah, one for the women and one for the men. The Rosh in his halachic commentary on the gemara Brochos chapter #3 writes that women are not held responsible for "arvus," guarantors that all other bnei and bnos Yisroel fulfill the Torah's precepts. Although this seems to be totally a leniency, there is a flip side as well. The ability to fulfill certain mitzvos through a proxy, "shlichus," is predicated on "arvus." Only when one is held responsible for another's mitzvoh fulfillment can he also be his "shliach." However, in the main this is a very big leniency for women, as they are not punished for other people's sins. We can thus view each woman as a distinct unit, not as connected with each and every other ben/bas Yisroel. Men, who are held responsible for "arvus," can be viewed as separate entities that are tightly bound one to the other. Our organs, "eivorim," are each a separate entity, but are bound together with sinews, "gidin." This might be the interpretation of "koshoh k'gidin," difficult as sinews that bind the organs. In conclusion, the exact manner of relating the Torah to men and to women took place. Nevertheless, since the men were apprised of the upcoming responsibility of "arvus," it was an awesome undertaking, similar to "gidin." (T'cheiles Mordechai)

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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a


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