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Bava Kama, 55


QUESTION: Rebbi Chanina ben Agil asked Rebbi Chiya bar Aba why, in the first set of Luchos, there is no mention of "Tov," while in the second set of Luchos, "Tov" is mentioned (in the commandment to honor one's parents, "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach"). Rebbi Chiya bar Aba responded that instead of asking why it mentions "Tov," one should ask whether it says "Tov" altogether, and he sent Rebbi Chanina ben Agil to Rebbi Tanchum bar Chanilai.

Rebbi Chanina ben Agil said that he heard from Shmuel bar Nachum that the reason why it does not say "Tov" in the first Luchos is because they were destined to be broken, and Hashem did not want the "Tov," the good in store for the Jewish people, to be "broken" with the Luchos.

This Gemara seems perplexing. How could the Amora, Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, say that he did not know whether or not the Torah says "Tov" in the second set of Luchos? An Amora certainly knows the verses in the Torah, and even if, for some reason, he does not know the verse, he could simply look it up! What does the Gemara mean? (See TOSFOS in Bava Basra 113a, DH Tarvaihu.)

Furthermore, the Gemara answers that it does not say "Tov" in the first Luchos since those Luchos would eventually be broken, and if "Tov" would be written in them, then the Jewish people would, Chas v'Shalom, lose that Tov. This implies that the verses in Parshas Yisro and in Parshas Va'eschanan are discussing two separate sets of Luchos. The verses in Parshas Yisro are describing what was written on the set of Luchos that Moshe Rabeinu received on Shavuos, which were broken on the seventeenth of Tamuz, when Moshe Rabeinu descended the mountain only to find the people worshipping the Egel ha'Zahav. The verses in Parshas Va'eschanan are describing what was written in the second set of Luchos, which Moshe Rabeinu brought down to the Jewish people on the following Yom Kippur. The same conclusion may be drawn from the Pesikta Rabasi (beginning of Parshah 23), which implies that the description in Parshas Yisro is that of the first Luchos, while the description in Parshas Va'eschanan is that of the second Luchos. The Pesikta Rabasi addresses the fact that in the first account of the Aseres ha'Dibros it says, "*Remember* (Zachor) the Sabbath day," while in the second account it says, "*Keep* (Shamor) the Sabbath day." The Pesikta explains that the word "keep" was used to teach that the Jewish people were being instructed that only through "keep" the Shabbos would they succeed in "keeping" the second Luchos from being lost as the first ones were. Here, too, the implication is that the account of the Aseres ha'Dibros in Va'eschanan records the text of the *second* Luchos, while the account in Yisro describes the text of the *first* Luchos.

However, it seems clear from the verses themselves that both are describing the same set of Luchos -- those that Moshe Rabeinu received on Shavuos. The Aseres ha'Dibros of Va'eschanan are introduced with the words, "Hashem spoke to you face to face on the mountain, from the midst of the fire. I stood between Hashem and you... to tell you the word of Hashem" (Devarim 5:4-5). This clearly seems to be a description of the oral delivery of the *first* Luchos, amidst the spectacle of thunder and lightning and loud blast of the Shofar, in the presence of the entire congregation of Israel (as described in Shemos 20:14-17). We do not find such details accompanying the delivery of the second Luchos, which Moshe himself brought down for the Jewish people upon his return from Har Sinai (as described in Shemos 34:28-29 and Devarim 10:4-5).

Regarding the differences between the two accounts, the common approach among the Rishonim is that when Moshe reviewed the Aseres ha'Dibros for the people, he added several explanatory comments of his own to the original wording. The Va'eschanan version is Moshe's rewording of the Aseres ha'Dibros (IBN EZRA to Shemos 20:1, RAMBAN to Shemos 20:8, and others). This seems to be the approach of the Gemara in Shevu'os (20b) as well.

How, then, are we to understand our Gemara, and the statement of the Pesikta Rabasi, which imply that the Aseres ha'Dibros quoted in Va'eschanan is a description of the giving of the *second* Luchos?


(a) The VILNA GA'ON (in Chidushei Agados) explains that Rebbi Chanina ben Agil understood that "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" refers to reward in this world, since the phrase "l'Ma'an Ya'arichun Yamecha" in the same verse (Devarim 5:16) already includes reward in the World to Come. Rebbi Chanina was wondering why the first version of the Aseres ha'Dibros did not include this promise of reward in this world.

Rebbi Chiya bar Aba replied that he is not sure whether "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" is indeed referring to reward in this world. Perhaps these words, too, are referring to reward in the World to Come, like Rebbi Yakov says in Kidushin (39b). He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum in order to clarify this point. Rebbi Tanchum agreed that the verse indeed promises reward in this world, but it was not written in the Luchos in order for it not to be shattered along with the Luchos, symbolizing the loss of all good in this world.

In the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros this promise of reward does appear, in order to show that Hashem intended to reward the performance of the Mitzvah of Kibud Av va'Em with a promise of good in this world as well, even though it was not written explicitly in the Luchos because of the reason that Rebbi Tanchum gave.

(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA explains that the fact that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" were not written in Parshas Yisro, but were included in Parshas Va'eschanan, teaches us one of two things: it either teaches us that although they were not written on the Luchos, Hashem did say those words, or it teaches that they were not written on the Luchos and Hashem did not say them either, but Moshe Rabeinu added those words in explanation of the Aseres ha'Dibros (as the Ibn Ezra explains). Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was saying that he did not know which of these two options is correct -- did Hashem actually say "l'Ma'an Yitav" or was it an explanation added by Moshe Rabeinu? Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, therefore, could not answer the question of Rebbi Chanina, because the answer would differ depending on whether Hashem spoke these words of "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach," and Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was uncertain about this. He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum, who answered that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" were not written on the Luchos, in order to prevent their loss with the breaking of the Luchos (and that is why they do not appear in Parshas Yisro). However, the words *were* spoken by Hashem even though they were not written on the Luchos.

(A similar answer can be found in HA'MIKRA V'HA'MESORAH of RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS, and in EMES L'YAKOV, Parshas Va'eschanan 5:12, of RAV YAKOV KAMINETSKY, who calls the words that Hashem spoke but did not write in the Luchos, "Kri v'Lo Kesiv.")

According to the Pnei Yehoshua, our Gemara does not mean that the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros is referring to the second set of Luchos, but rather both are referring to the first set that Moshe Rabeinu brought down on Shavuos.

(c) We can expand upon the approach of the Pnei Yehoshua and suggest that even according to Rebbi Tanchum, Hashem did not say the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach." Rebbi Tanchum is explaining both why Hashem did not promise "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" verbally or include it in the Luchos in written form, when the Luchos were given.

It remains to be explained in what manner the Jewish people would have lost "all good" had "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" been shattered together with the Luchos. Perhaps according to what we have explained, we may understand this Agadah as follows.

Why did Moshe feel the need to add explanatory remarks in the second account of the Aseres ha'Dibros? If the people understood the Aseres ha'Dibros the first time, why should they now require further explanation, forty years later? Moreover, what explanation is actually added by the numerous changes that Moshe made?

The Torah tells us that, upon witnessing the Jewish people's awe-filled reaction to His revelation, Hashem said to Moshe, "Who would make it possible that the Jewish people would fear Me like this and keep all of My commandments all the days? Then they and their children would have good forever!" (Devarim 5:26). The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (5a) tells us that at that moment, the Jewish people should have immediately responded to Hashem's remark by exclaiming, "*You* make it possible for us!" Hashem had given them a cue to declare their desire for Him to draw them closer, but they did not understand the hint.

Why did Moshe see fit to mention this comment of Hashem's at this point, seeing that it is not recorded in Shemos in the context of the original story of the revelation on Har Sinai? The Gemara explains that it was only at this time, forty years after the revelation, that Moshe realized that Hashem gave this opportunity to the Jewish people. As the Gemara puts it, "A student does not fully understand the intent of his master's words until forty years after he has heard them."

Perhaps such an explanation may answer our questions as well.

Let us begin with a Mashal. Once there was a father who was sending his son off to school in a distant city. They had a relative in that city who was involved in all sorts of illegal schemes. The father suspected that the relative would try to lure his son away from earning an honest livelihood by enticing him with seductive, illegal offers. Naturally, the father wanted his son to avoid this relative at all costs. However, he knew that it would be counterproductive for him to give explicit instructions to his son to refrain from meeting this man, as this would only arouse the boy's curiosity concerning the relative. The young man, suspecting some secret family feud, might even acquaint himself with the villain rather than shun him. Furthermore, the son might feel insulted that his father showed such lack of confidence in his own judgment, making him unreceptive to the father's sound advice. Instead, the father offered his son several general, indirect suggestions: Do not keep company with a person whose integrity is in doubt; do not be eager to accept monetary offers from strangers; do not become taken in with seemingly easy schemes for making large amounts of money, etc. Hopefully, through this kind of indirect counsel, the son would realize when the time of temptation would arrive that he should keep his distance from the offensive relative.

This parable applies to the circumstances of the Jewish people at the time of the giving of the Torah. Hashem knew that His children would soon be facing challenging situations, and that their loyalty to Him would be put to the test. In fact, only forty days after the Torah was given, the incident of the Egel ha'Zahav took place right at the foot of Har Sinai. It was this incident that caused the loss of the first Luchos, and that was destined to cause the Jews so much future suffering and misfortune (see Rashi to Shemos 35:34; Parashah Page, Balak and Tishah b'Av 5755). As the Mishnah says, "Everything is foreseen [by Hashem]" (Avos 3:15) -- the past present and future are one to the Creator.

Perhaps we may suggest that Hashem wanted to at least give His people veiled warnings of the trial that awaited them. This way, when the pitfall of the Egel ha'Zahav would present itself, perhaps the Jews would reconsider before sinning, realizing that Hashem had cautioned them to beware of falling into just such a trap. The Giver of the Law therefore implanted several tacit hints into the wording and nuances of the Aseres ha'Dibros. However, the intent of these hidden messages was lost on the people. Even Moshe himself did not grasp these subtle allusions until forty years later -- in hindsight, after the people's sin at Sinai was already history.

It took Moshe forty years to understand that the people had forever lost their opportunity to declare "*You* make it possible for us not to ever sin!" At the same time, Moshe realized that Hashem had been trying to give them the advice they would need to avoid sinning. Now, while he was delivering his farewell address of admonishment and warning to the Jewish people, he pointed out to them the several gentle warnings that Hashem Himself had provided in the Aseres ha'Dibros.

Let us examine some of the differences in the wording of the two versions of the Aseres ha'Dibros and see how they can be explained according to this theory.

A reference to the Egel ha'Zahav can be found in the fourth commandment. In the Shemos version, the fourth commandment enjoins us to refrain from all Melachah on Shabbos -- "you, your servant, your maidservant and your animals." In Devarim this is rephrased as "you, your servant, your maidservant, *your ox, your donkey, and all* your animals" (Devarim 5:14). Why are several examples of particular animals added?

The reason that Hashem told the people to extend the Shabbos rest to their animals, Moshe now realized, was because there might have been an inclination among the people to accord a revered status -- or perhaps some element of divinity -- to some animals, thus exempting them from participating in Hashem's ordained day of rest. For this reason Hashem stressed that animals, too, must rest. In order to bring out this point, Moshe now rephrased this sentence to explicitly equate the *ox* with all other animals, as far as the day of rest was concerned. As Moshe explained, Hashem was hinting to us that we should not bestow any form of veneration on any animal, particularly the ox which he knew would shortly become a snare for the people.

The phrase "*as Hashem had commanded you*" is found twice in the second version of Aseres ha'Dibros -- in the fourth and fifth commandments, concerning the Shabbos (verse 12) and honoring one's parents (verse 16) -- and not at all in the first version. Since Moshe was paraphrasing the words of Hashem that were said at the time of the giving of the Torah, the words, "as Hashem had commanded you," must mean that Hashem had commanded these two laws some time prior to the revelation at Har Sinai. As the Torah relates (Shemos 16:25), the Jewish people were indeed given a series of laws at Marah several weeks before they arrived at Sinai, and the Sages tell us that the Shabbos and honoring one's parents were among these laws (Rashi, ad loc.). But why did Moshe see fit to remind the people of the episode at Marah?

Moshe realized now that the reason Hashem chose to prelude the giving of the Torah with these two Mitzvos, out of all the hundreds of choices, was because He wanted the people to become accustomed to them even before they arrived at Har Sinai. These two precepts would, more than any others, enable them to better withstand the test that would face them there. How is this?

The Mitzvah of keeping Shabbos, we are told, is considered as important as the keeping of all the other Mitzvos combined. The same is said for the Mitzvah of refraining from idolatry (Eruvin 69b). The reason for this important emphasis on the Mitzvah of Shabbos is that the observance of Shabbos constitutes a declaration that one believes in Hashem as the Creator of the universe.

Similarly, the Gemara (Yevamos 5a) tells us that honoring one's parents is tantamount to honoring Hashem Himself. (Recognizing one's indebtedness to his parents for having brought him into the world will bring a person to a recognition of Hashem.) In fact, the Gemara (Berachos 35b) tells us that "father" and "mother" may sometimes be taken to mean "Hashem" and "the Congregation of Israel," respectively. Thus the commandment to honor one's father, if expanded to its broadest scope, will bring one to show honor to Hashem as well.

These two Mitzvos -- Shabbos and honoring one's parents -- had it in their power to strengthen the Jews' trust in Hashem. According to Rashbam, this is why these are the only two positive Mitzvos that were included in the Aseres ha'Dibros. The only positive Mitzvos included were those that involved accepting upon ourselves the yoke of the service of Hashem. That must have been the purpose of the Mitzvos of observing the Shabbos and honoring one's parents also (Rashbam, Shemos 20:7).

Moshe now realized that these two Mitzvos were given to the people before their time, so to speak, because of the important lesson they were supposed to impart concerning the honor we must give to Hashem. In fact, our Sages tell us that were the Jews to have kept their first Shabbos properly, they would never have been exiled from their land (that is, they would not have sinned with the Egel ha'Zahav, causing their eventual exile). The Gemara adds that even the worst idol-worshippers are absolved if keep the Shabbos day (Shabbos 118b). Moshe now understood that the early start the Jews were given in these two Mitzvos was for the same reason that specifically these two positive commandments were chosen to be included in the Aseres ha'Dibros. This is why he mentioned the fact that the people had been forewarned of these Mitzvos in the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros.

Now we can understand our Gemara. The Gemara says that the reason the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" (in the fifth commandment, honoring one's parents) did not appear on the first Luchos was so that this promise for goodness to be bestowed by Hashem would not be broken along with the Luchos. The lessons of "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" -- "so that it will be good for you" (that is, this Mitzvah will help you merit the eternal good of Olam ha'Ba -- and not just Olam ha'Zeh -- since this Mitzvah will help you avoid the terrible sin that was threatening them) were *implicit* in the text of the Aseres ha'Dibros, as Moshe himself pointed out in the Va'eschanan version of the Aseres ha'Dibros. They were not stated *explicitly* in the Luchos, for if they had been -- and the people would have sinned in spite of the explicit warning -- they would never again have any "goodness." Their sin would then have been so grave that they would have lost any chance of ever attaining the ultimate good.

The Pesikta quoted earlier says that the word used for Shabbos observance in Va'eschanan is "*Keep* (or 'be careful of') the Shabbos day," to imply that the Jewish people should *keep* these Luchos and not lose them as they did the first ones. Perhaps this may be explained in a similar fashion. It is not that the second Luchos actually said the words "*Keep* the Shabbos day." Rather, Moshe -- when he recounted what was written on the *first* Luchos, pointed out to the people why the commandment of observing the Shabbos day was included in the Luchos. "Keeping" (i.e. observing) the Shabbos was the key to "keeping" the Torah permanently. Moshe used the word "keep" when he retold the events of the first Luchos in order to emphasize this message to the Jewish people. Observe the Shabbos properly, he said, and you will never again come into a situation where the Torah will become lost to you!


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