web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Perpetuating Har Sinai

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Torah warns us to not forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai, for as the pasuk in Parshas Va’eschanan says: “Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life, and make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Devarim 4:9).

There seems to be several different interpretations of this pasuk. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:8) says that anyone who forgets what he has learned is considered to be deserving of death. The Mishnah quotes the abovementioned pasuk as a reference. Similarly the Gemara in Menachos 99b says in the name of Reish Lakish that someone who forgets what he has learned has transgressed the lav of the aforementioned pasuk. The Gemara explains that since the pasuk used the words “hi’shamer” and “pen,” this pasuk constitutes a negative commandment.

The Gemara in Kiddushin 30a derives from this pasuk that one who learns Torah with his son’s son is considered to have received the Torah at Har Sinai.

However, at the same time, the literal translation of the pasuk is that we should not forget what we saw on Har Sinai. How does the literal translation lend itself to the prohibition of not forgetting one’s learning and praising one who learns with his grandchildren?

Another point of discussion is whether the lav of not forgetting the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai is on the list of the 613 mitzvos. The Rambam does not include this in his list of negative commandments. The Ramban, in his commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos (in the section of the prohibitions that the Rambam neglected to count, in mitzvah 2), writes that this pasuk serves as a prohibition for one to forget ma’amad Har Sinai and that the Rambam neglected to count it. According to the Ramban, if one forgets the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai he has transgressed a lav.

The sefer, Megillas Esther (commentary to the Ramban’s commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos), explains that the Rambam did not count as a negative commandment to forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai because he understood that the pasuk is referring to forgetting the Torah one has learned. This opinion is shared by other Rishonim, such as the Yereim (359) and the Sefer Mitzvos Ketanos (96), who posit that there is no negative commandment to forget ma’amad Har Sinai; rather, the pasuk is only prohibiting the forgetting of the Torah that one has learned – as the Mishnah in Avos and Gemara in Menachos mention. The sefer, Megillas Esther, explains that the Rambam did not count the prohibition to not forget one’s learning as a separate mitzvah, for it is part of the mitzvah of learning Torah.

The question still remains on how to reconcile all of the different drashos that are derived from this pasuk. The truth is that the Ramban actually asks this question on himself. He says that one should not be mistaken and think that the Gemara in Kiddushin 30a, which praises one who learns Torah with his grandchildren, based on this pasuk, understands that this pasuk is only referring to learning Torah and not remembering matan Torah. The Ramban explains that the Gemara is referring to learning about emunas haTorah (belief in the Torah), which is learning Torah as well.

Perhaps the explanation of these words is as follows: There is another aspect to the mitzvah of learning Torah. Aside from learning Torah, one must acquire emunas haTorah, believing that our Torah is the word of God that we received on Har Sinai. It is regarding the second aspect of the mitzvah that the Gemara in Kiddushin says that one who learns with his grandchildren is considered to have personally accepted the Torah on Har Sinai. This is because when one learns Torah with his grandfather, he is learning with someone from one generation closer to Har Sinai. This will instill in him a greater sense of emunas haTorah. This learning has both aspects of the mitzvah in it. Therefore, the Gemara reveres a grandfather who teaches Torah to his grandchildren; it’s as if he has accepted the Torah on Har Sinai.

Earlier in this mitzvah, the Ramban explained that the importance of the mitzvah to not forget Har Sinai is due to securing our belief in the Torah. He explains that if we would believe that our Torah came from any other source – even from a navi – it would not be the same secure belief and thus our belief could be challenged. This is because another navi could then come along and discredit the Torah, creating doubt in our minds. But now that we know that the Torah was given by Hashem to millions of people, no doubt could ever arise in our minds since we were the ones who witnessed Hashem’s act of giving us the Torah.

It is not a contradiction that we derive both points – that one should not forget his learning, and praising a grandfather who teaches Torah to his grandchildren – from the pasuk that literally says that we should remember the revelation that we witnessed on Har Sinai. This is because these are all aspects of the mitzvah of learning Torah. According to the Ramban, the aspect of not forgetting what we witnessed on Har Sinai identifies itself as a separate mitzvah while the other Rishonim consider it as part of the mitzvah of learning Torah.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Perpetuating Har Sinai”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of California, Los Angeles campus.
The Red Herring of the Definition Debate
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The common translation of the opening words of this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, is: “When you go out to war against your enemy.” Actually the text reads “al oyvecha” upon your enemy. The Torah is saying that when Israel goes out to war, they will be over and above their enemy. The reason why Bnei […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The love between Gd & Israel is deeper than marriage; beyond the infinite love of parent for child

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

We can suggest that since Hashem Himself appointed Dovid there is no question. The rules are only in place for when we must chose a king ourselves.

Perhaps a careful reading of the pesukim in the parsha will shed light on this dilemma.

The second parshah of Shema is referring to keeping the rest of the mitzvos, and there the Torah does not require that one spend all of his money in order to perform the mitzvos.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

In addition to the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, there are several restrictions that one may not perform during the week that Tisha B’Av falls in.

We do not find that Pinchas was chastised for what he did; on the contrary he was greatly rewarded.

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/perpetuating-har-sinai/2014/06/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: