Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In this week’s parsha the conclusion of mattan Torah and the giving of the asseres hadibros, when it is recorded that Bnei Yisrael said naaseh v’nishma. In Parshas Yisro we read about the kolos and the brakim and how Hashem Himself descended on Har Sinai and gave us the Torah.

In parshas Vaeschanan the Torah warns us not to forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai, for as the pasuk says: “rak heshamer lecha u’shmor nasfecha pen tishkach es hadevarim asher rau eynecha… – 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).

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The Ramban, in his commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos (in the section of the lo sassei that he says the Rambam neglected to count mitzvah 2), writes that we learn from this pasuk that there is a lo sassei for one to forget ma’mad Har Sinai, and he questions why the Rambam neglected to count it. He continues by explaining that the importance of this mitzvah is that if we believe that our Torah came from a navi even if we were to believe him, it would not be the same because another navi or a dream could then discredit the Torah, creating doubt in our minds. However, now that we know that the Torah was given by Hashem to millions of people who all witnessed it firsthand, no doubt could ever arise in our minds since our ancestors were the ones who witnessed Hashem’s revelation to us in giving us the Torah.

So, why did the Rambam not include this lav in his count of the mitzvos? Some Rishonim argue with the Ramban saying that there is no lav to forget ma’mad Har Sinai; rather the pasuk is prohibiting forgetting the Torah itself. The Yereim (359) says that the pasuk is referring to forgetting Torah, and draws a proof from the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:8) that says that anyone who forgets what he has learned is considered to be deserving of death, and the Mishnah quotes this pasuk as a reference. We see that the Mishnah understands that this pasuk is referring to forgetting one’s learning. Additionally, the Gemara in Kiddushin 30a derives from this pasuk that when one learns Torah with his grandchildren Hashem considers it to be as if he himself accepted Torah on Har Sinai. Seemingly, the Gemara understands that this pasuk is referring to learning Torah and not referring to remembering about the giving of the Torah.

The sefer Hararei Kedem suggests that the Rambam and the Ramban do not argue about what the pasuk is referring to; namely it is referring to forgetting the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai, and it is also referring to learning Torah. how can the pasuk be referring to two things?

The answer is because the mitzvah of learning Torah is different from all other disciplines. It is not sufficient to simply learn the Torah, part of the mitzvah is knowing and understanding where the Torah comes from. Learning about emunas haTorah (belief in the Torah) is part of the mitzvah of learning Torah as well. The only machlokes that Rambam and Ramban have is whether it is two separate things or is it all one thing. The Rambam did not count the mitzvah not to forget ma’mad Har Sinai as one of the mitzvos because he believes that the prohibition of forgetting ma’mad Har Sinai is a part of the mitzvah of learning Torah – not a separate mitzvah.

In other words, the Rambam and the Ramban agree that there are two parts to this mitzvah, the only question is whether the prohibition against forgetting the giving of the Torah is a separate mitzvah or a part of the mitzvah of learning Torah.

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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.