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Menachos, 99

MENACHOS 96-99 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the fourth Yahrzeit of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner), who passed away 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study during the week of his Yahrzeit serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah.


QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the verse, "Asher Shibarta v'Samtam ba'Aron" (Devarim 10:2), from which Rav Yosef learns that both the second set of Luchos and the broken Luchos were placed in the Aron.

It is not clear how Rav Yosef derives this from the verse. The verse in its entirety reads, "And I shall write on the Luchos the words that were on the first Luchos which you broke, and you shall place them in the Aron." The words "and you shall place them in the Aron" ("v'Samtam ba'Aron") clearly refer to the second set of Luchos. Hashem is commanding Moshe to place the second set of Luchos into the Aron. When Hashem says "which you broke" ("Asher Shibarta"), he is merely telling Moshe that the content of the second set of Luchos is the same as the content of the first set "which you broke." How does Rav Yosef learn from this verse that "v'Samtam ba'Aron" is referring to the first set of Luchos which Moshe broke?


(a) The MAHARSHA writes that Rav Yosef derives this from the proximity of the words, "Asher Shibarta," to the words, "v'Samtam ba'Aron."

(b) The ALSHICH (cited by LIKUTEI SHAI) explains that the words, "Asher Shibarta," are superfluous. Moshe Rabeinu, and the Jews, already knew that the first Luchos were broken. It must be that these words are added here to be read with the last words of the verse and to teach that even the broken Luchos were placed in the Aron. (See also TORAH TEMIMAH.)

The Alshich adds further that the preceding verse says, "Fashion for yourself two stone Luchos, like the first ones, and rise up to me on the mountain, and make for yourself a wooden Aron" (Devarim 10:1). Hashem commanded Moshe Rabeinu to chisel two Luchos, come up to the mountain, and make a wooden Aron. The Alshich points out that the wooden Aron was necessary only for the new Luchos, and therefore its construction could wait until Moshe returned from the mountain. However, the following verse (Devarim 10:3) relates that Moshe Rabeinu first made a wooden Aron and afterwards ascended the mountain and engraved the words on the Luchos. Why did Moshe change the order of what he was commanded to do?

The Alshich explains that when Moshe understood Hashem's hint to him that the broken Luchos must also be placed in the Aron, he understood the great Kedushah of the broken Luchos and the necessary respect with which they must be treated. However, Hashem, in His Midah of humility, did not instruct Moshe to place the broken Luchos -- the Luchos that Hashem Himself had prepared -- into the Aron by themselves. Only once the second set of Luchos -- prepared by Moshe -- was placed in the Aron (after Moshe's descent from the mountain) were Hashem's Luchos to be placed there. Moshe understood this, and in *his* humility he gave more honor to Hashem's Luchos and put them into the Aron immediately, without waiting to place the second ones in the Aron.

Why, though, does the Torah not state explicitly that the broken Luchos are to be placed in the Aron?

Perhaps the answer is based on the next words of the Gemara here, which says that it is forbidden to treat a Talmid Chacham who forgot his learning with disrespect. The Gemara learns this from the fact that the broken Luchos (compared to a Talmid Chacham who forgot his learning) were also treated with respect and placed in the Aron. However, if this is learned from the broken Luchos, then why does the Gemara phrase the requirement to treat such a Talmid Chacham with respect in the negative, saying that say that we may not disgrace him? The Gemara should say that we are "required to honor him," just as we are required to give honor to the broken Luchos!

The answer is that we may infer from the fact that the Torah does not explicitly command us to put the broken Luchos in the Aron that there is no Mitzvah to give honor to the broken Luchos. Rather, the requirement is to avoid disgracing them, and if they will be left out of the Aron, then they will be disgraced. Since the Torah is not giving us a Mitzvah to honor the broken Luchos but merely to avoid disgracing them, it teaches this obligation through an implication and not explicitly.

Similarly, there is no Mitzvah to actively give honor to a Talmid Chacham who forgot his learning. Rather, the Mitzvah is to avoid disgracing him and treating him with disrespect. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)


QUESTIONS: Reish Lakish teaches that one who forgets even one thing from his learning transgresses a Torah prohibition, as the verse says, "Rak Hishamer Lecha... Pen Tishkach Es ha'Devarim" -- "Guard yourself... lest you forget these things" (Devarim 4:9).

The Gemara clearly understands that this verse refers to forgetting Torah. However, the straightforward understanding of the verse is that it refers to the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai, when Hashem commanded the Jewish people not to forget the things that they saw there. Indeed, the RAMBAN adds this Mitzvah to the list of Mitzvos. According to the Ramban, this verse is commanding us not to forget Ma'amad Har Sinai, the events of Har Sinai, and to relate it to our children. Remembering what happened at Har Sinai is central to our Avodas Hashem, since the basis of our Emunah is the understanding that at Har Sinai, the entire nation became Nevi'im and actually heard the words spoken by Hashem. Such a collective witnessing of the word of Hashem cannot be contradicted, since it is the testimony of hundreds of thousands of witnesses who all saw and experienced the same event.

(a) How, though, does the Ramban understand our Gemara, which derives from this verse a prohibition against forgetting one's learning?

(b) The RAMBAM, on the other hand, does not include this verse as a Mitzvah at all. He does not count it as a Mitzvah not to forget Ma'amad Har Sinai, nor does he count it as a Mitzvah not to forget one's learning. How does the Rambam understand our Gemara? In addition, the Rambam himself in IGERES TEIMAN writes that "Hashem commanded us to always remember Ma'amad Har Sinai, and He warned us not to forget it, and He commanded us to teach it to our children... as it says, 'Hishamer Lecha...'." Why, then, does the Rambam not include this as a Mitzvah in his list of Mitzvos?

(a) The Ramban himself alludes to the question. He writes that although the Gemara in Kidushin (30a) derives from this verse the obligation to teach the entire Torah to our children and to our children's children, teaching Ma'amad Har Sinai, the basis of Emunah, is also considered teaching Torah. The verse is warning us not to forget this part of Talmud Torah.

Although the Gemara here clearly says that this warning applies to all parts of Torah and not only to Ma'amad Har Sinai, nevertheless, since the Torah forbids forgetting Ma'amad Har Sinai, it is obvious that forgetting any part of Torah is also forbidden. This is because the significance of remembering Ma'amad Har Sinai is that we should know the truth of the Torah that was given there. Since we are commanded to teach our children about the basis of Emunah of the Torah, then certainly we must teach them the Torah itself.

(b) The Rambam, who does not count this verse as a Mitzvah at all, may be explained as follows. The MEGILAS SEFER (on the Rambam's SEFER HA'MITZVOS) explains that the Rambam does not record this verse as a Mitzvah because this verse is not a separate Mitzvah in itself, but rather it teaches us how to fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The verse is teaching that we must learn Torah in such a way that it should not be forgotten. This includes learning at every spare moment, as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Talmud Torah (1:10). It also includes constant review of one's learning.

Since the Rambam's style is not to count sub-categories of a general Mitzvah separately, he does not include this verse in his list of Mitzvos. The actual Mitzvah is Talmud Torah, which the Rambam counts already, and thus it is not necessary to count this verse as a separate Mitzvah, since this verse teaches us how to fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah.

We may ask, however, that this explains only why the Rambam does not count this verse as a Mitzvah not to forget one's learning. How does this explain why the Rambam does not count this verse as a Mitzvah not to forget Ma'amad Har Sinai? In what way is remembering Ma'amad Har Sinai a way of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah?

Perhaps we may answer as follows. The RAMCHAL in DERECH HASHEM (4:2) explains that the study of Torah differs from the study of all other forms of knowledge. When one learns any other form of knowledge, the purpose in learning is the acquisition of the knowledge itself. Consequently, it does not make a difference how we learn and acquire that knowledge. In contrast, Hashem gave us the Torah in order to learn it and, through its wisdom, gain a special connection with Hashem Himself.

Similarly, the event of Ma'amad Har Sinai was not an isolated event that occurred in our history. It was not merely the time at which Hashem gave us the Torah. It was an event through which the entire Jewish nation experienced an unprecedented spiritual connection with Hashem, hearing His words and experiencing His presence.

The Ramchal continues and explains that anyone who learns Torah has the opportunity to relive that experience. If one learns Torah the same way that it was given at Har Sinai, with awe, fear, and trembling (see Berachos 22a), with the understanding that the Torah is more than just a body of knowledge and that it is the means for forming a connection to Hashem, then he actually merits at that moment to hear and experience Hashem's presence, reliving Ma'amad Har Sinai.

This explains why remembering Ma'amad Har Sinai indeed is a part of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The way one must learn Torah is with Ma'amad Har Sinai in his mind. One must not forget Ma'amad Har Sinai, because if one learns Torah without remembering Ma'amad Har Sinai, his learning will no longer be a way of connecting with Hashem, but merely an intellectual exercise. The proper way to learn is to imagine that Hashem is speaking to him now; this requires a certain level of awe and fear ("Eimah v'Yir'ah"). At that point, a person experiences the connection that existed at Ma'amad Har Sinai.

Moreover, the prohibition against forgetting Torah in general is directly connected to remembering Ma'amad Har Sinai. The Midrash (Shir ha'Shirim Rabah 1:4) says that if the Luchos would not have been broken, no one would have forgotten anything he learned. This is because at Ma'amad Har Sinai, the words of the Torah were inscribed on the hearts of the Jewish people, as the verse says, "Kasvem Al Lu'ach Libecha" -- "Write them on the tablet of your heart" (Mishlei 3:3). The experience at Har Sinai was far more than a mere communication of information from Hashem to the Jewish people. It was an experienced that fundamentally changed the essence of the Jewish people, leaving an indelible impression upon their hearts.

Accordingly, we can understand why the Rambam does not count the prohibition of forgetting Torah in his list of Mitzvos. As we mentioned earlier, the Rambam does not count branches of Mitzvos separately. Remembering Har Sinai, and learning the Torah the way it was given at Har Sinai, helps a person not to forget his learning, and thus it is included in the general Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. This also explains how both the straightforward meaning of the verse (referring to Ma'amad Har Sinai) and the Derashah of the verse (referring to forgetting one's learning) both teach the correct way to fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. (Heard from HA'RAV EZRIEL AUERBACH shlit'a.) (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)

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