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Shabbos 89


QUESTION: The Satan wanted to know where the Torah had gone. Hashem told him to ask Moshe. When the Satan asked Moshe for the whereabouts of the Torah that Hashem had given to him, Moshe responded that he did not have the Torah. Hashem said to Moshe, "Are you a liar?" Moshe replied, "The [Torah, which is the] beloved hidden treasure in which you take pleasure every day -- how can I be so audacious to keep it for myself?"

What exactly was going on in this interaction? What was Moshe answering to the Satan's inquiry, and how did he defend himself when Hashem asked him if he was lying?


(a) The MAHARSHA says that the issue revolved around Sodos ha'Torah, the deep secrets of the Torah. The Satan was asking Moshe how he could keep the Torah, when he is only a human whose capacity for understanding is limited, and he cannot fully understand the Torah. Moshe answered the Satan that the Satan is correct, for he only understands the revealed parts of Torah (Niglah) and not the hidden parts (Nistar). Hashem asked Moshe, "Are you lying? You also know the hidden parts of Torah!" Moshe replied than were it for his own ability, he would never have been able to understand the hidden parts of Torah; it is only because Hashem spread his presence upon Moshe that he understood it.

(b) The Gemara in Nedarim (38a) says that Hashem gave the ability to elucidate the Torah (Pilpul ha'Torah) to Moshe Rabeinu and his descendants, but in his generosity Moshe shared it with all of the Jewish people (see "Torah from the Internet," Parshas Ki Tisa). This is the subject of the discussion recorded in our Gemara. The Satan wanted to take back the Torah by taking away the Neshamah of Moshe, thereby removing all trace of the Torah from this world. Moshe said that it was no longer in his hands (because he had given it to all of the Jewish people). When Moshe said to Hashem, "Who am I to keep the Torah to myself," it was true that it was given to him, but he in turn gave it to the Jewish people. That is why Hashem said that the Torah will be called by the name of Moshe -- because it was Moshe's decision to share the Torah with the Jewish people. (M. Kornfeld)


AGADAH: Yitzchak defended the Jewish people when Hashem wanted to punish them for their sins. Yitzchak argued that a man's life span is seventy years. Twenty of those years, man is not liable to heavenly punishment (because under the age of twenty one is not liable). Of the remaining years, half of them were nighttime, leaving twenty-five years, of which half were spent Davening, eating, and taking care of one's needs. Said Yitzchak, either You forgive them for those remaining twelve and a half years of sin, or I will take half and you take half.

The KOCHVEI OHR in the name of RAV YISRAEL SALANTER explains this as follows. The Gemara in Berachos (17a) says that there are two things which keep the Jewish people from doing the will of Hashem -- the subjugation of the ruling nations ("Shibud Malchus") and the Yetzer ha'Ra ("Se'or sh'b'Isah"). When the Gemara says that Yitzchak suggested to go half and half with Hashem in sharing the responsibility for the sins of the Jewish people, it meant that Yitzchak was willing to take responsibility for subjecting the Jews to Shibud Malchus, which is one of the two things which cause them to sin. By giving the blessings to Esav, Yitzchak gave the descendants of Esav the power to rule over the Jewish people. Hashem, however, is responsible for the other element that causes the Jews to sin -- the Yetzer ha'Ra (as the Gemara says in Berachos 32a), and therefore He should take the responsibility for the other half of their sins.

QUESTION: The Gemara says that a person under the age of twenty is exempt from punishments b'Yedei Shamayim. This implies that someone under the age of twenty cannot be punished with Kares. However, there are other Gemaros that imply that a person is liable before the age of twenty (for example, Pesachim 93a)! Second, if someone under the age of twenty is exempt from Kares, he should also be exempt from bringing a Korban Chatas for an inadvertent transgression! Why does no one rule that he is exempt from bringing a Korban Chatas?

ANSWER: The CHACHAM ZVI (#49) gives four explanations for the statement of our Gemara.

(a) Our Gemara is Aggadic in nature, and we cannot learn from Aggadah to Halachah. Therefore a person indeed is Chayav to bring a Korban Chatas, even under the age of twenty.
(b) A person under the age of twenty is indeed sometimes punished by Shamayim, but sometimes he is not. (A person above the age of twenty is always punished by Shamayim).
(c) It could be that someone under twenty is indeed punished for his sins in *Olam ha'Ba*, but not in this world (as opposed to a person under the age of thirteen, who is not even punished in Olam ha'Ba).
(d) Someone under twenty *is* punished, but only if he does not do Teshuvah upon reaching the age of 20. A child under the age of thirteen is not punished, even if he does not do Teshuvah (see REMA OC 343).
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