Drosho for Yisro 5764
- Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman
- Jan 1, 2004
Michelangelo, Moses with horns. Mistranslation of קרני הוד. Moshe comes down from mountain, his face shaning with Divine light.
Question: Only after לוחות שניות. Why?
Another question: ילקוט פ' כי תשא:
מהיכן נטל משה קרנט ההוד? ר' יהודה בר נחמן אמר כשמשה כתב את התורה נשתייר בקולמוס קימעא והעבירו על ראשו ומשם נעשה לו קרני הוד.
Why was there ink leftover? And why did that ink turn into קרני הוד? And weren’t the לוחות carved out, anyway?
We all know: תורה שבכתב ותורה שבעל פה. Why? Midrash:
אכתוב לו רובי תורתי כמו זר נחשבו, בשעה שנגלה הקב"ה בסני ליתן לו תורה אמר למשה על הסדר מקרא ומשנה ותלמוד ואגדה שנאמר וידבר אלקים את כל הדברים האלה לאמר, אפילו מה שתלמיד ותיק שואל לרב כו' א"ל משה אכתוב אותה בהם בכתב א"ל לא מפני שגלוי לפני שעתידין אוה"ע לשלוט בהן וליטול אותה מהם כו' אלא המקרא אני נותן בכתב והמשנה והתלמוד והאגדה אני נותן להם בע"פ...
תורה שבכתב did not remain exclusive property of the Jewish people. Ptolmey demanded it be translated into Greek, and since that time it has become the universal property of mankind - translated into every language on earth, the best-selling book of all time. Had תושבע"פ been written down at that time, the same would have happened. Imagine, you’d walk into a hotel room and find an Artscroll shas in the drawer.
But Torah has to be unique inheritance of כלל ישראל, its unique bond with רבש"ע. Moreover, had the nations of the world adopted תורה שבעל פה they would have distorted it, as they distorted תורה שבכתב.
And therefore תושבע"פ could not be written down. Instead it was transmitted orally during the formative period of human history, and remained the distinctive inheritance, and the zealously guarded treasure, of the Jewish people.
Beis Halevi’s insight: In first לוחות this wasn’t necessary. The Gemara in עירובין tells us that when the first לוחות were given, before the חטא העגל, the world was made perfect, free from death, free from the threat of persecution and גלות. אלמלא לא חטאו ישראל לא שלטה בהם אומה ולשון.
And, therefore, posits the בית הלוי, in first לוחות there was no distinction between תושב"כ and תורה שבע"פ. Everything was written on the לוחות - the entirety of תורה שבכתב and תורה שבעל פה. And he brings proof to this from various midrashim and even from the language of the pesukim themselves.
That was the difference between לוחות ראשונות and לוחות שניות. First were before חטא העגל & contained everything. לוחות שניות were only תושב"כ. תושבע"פ could no longer be written on the לוחות; instead, it would be written onto the hearts and minds of חכמי ישראל, first of Moshe Rabeinu, and from his to the sages of each generation.
When Moshe was told to prepare the לוחות שניות, he thought they would be same as first לוחות. He prepared enough “ink” - so to speak - for תושב"כ and for תושבע"פ. But instead what was written down was only תורה שבכתב.
And so the “ink” of תורה שבע"פ remained. What happened to it? העבירו על ראשו; it was inscribed, not on the לוחות, but on the mind of Moshe himself.
There is an irony here - or, if you will, a paradox. The לוחות that came down the second down were much less than the first לוחות. The stone was not hewn by הקב"ה himself, but by Moshe. And they contained only תורה שבכתבú not all of תורה שבע"פ as in the first לוחות.
And the world into which they were brought was diminished. Had there been no חטא העגל Chazal tell us that death would have been conquered, and there would have been no גלות. The first לוחות came into a world that, for a brief time, was almost perfect. All that passed with the חטא העגל. And so the second לוחות came down into a far more imperfect and threatening world.
But - and here is the paradox - the משה רבינו who brought down the second לוחות was incomparably greater than the משה who brought down the first. The first time he brought down the לוחות his face did not shine. Only when he brought down second לוחות was his face ablaze with that blinding light.
Because all the glory of תורה שבעל פה, all of its vastness, all of its treasures, which had been openly inscribed on the first לוחות, now had to be shielded from a world steeped in שקר. a world that would steal and distort it. And so rather than being written openly on the לוחות, it had to be internalized within משה רבינו. And it shone from within him.
One further point: On the pasuk ואיש לא יעלה עמך, Rashi writes: הראשונות על ידי שהיו בתשואות וקולות וקהלה, שלטה בהן עין רעה, אין לך מדה יפה מן הצניעות.
This resonates very powerfully with בית הלוי. The way in which each of the לוחות were given reflected their essence. In the first לוחות the Torah - the whole Torah - was out in the open, inscribed on the לוחות for all to see, accessible to everyone and anyone. And so the giving itself was בקולי קולות, an open spectacle. But in the second לוחות almost the entirety of the Torah - the vastness of תורה שבע"פ was internalized within Moshe Rabeinu, within his heart and mind. And the way in which they were given reflected that: בצניעות, quietly, unobrusively, far from the maddening crowd.
We live in a world that is caught up in superficialities, in which something has to be on TV to be really important. It is important for us to remind ourselves that since the לוחות שניות were given, that which is most important and deep and קדוש is צנוע, far from the limelight. The people we most admire live quiet lives, far from the glare of publicity. גדולי ישראל live lives of deep simplicity. The אנשי גדולים we met in ירושלים living in apartments whose spartan simplicity we can hardly imagine. ר' משה in his simple apartment on the lower east side. The things we value most are quiet, unsung - unobrusive חסד, quiet piety, unassuming scholarship. It is there, in such places and in such acts and among such people, that we can look for the light that shown from משה רבינו, when he brought down the second לוחות.