Parshat יתרו Shmos 20:1 – God Spoke All These Words

Exodus 20:1 – And God spoke all these words saying.

Gemora Chagiga: 3(b) [The reason why is says “all” of these words instead of just “these words” is] to instruct the Sages who sit together in groups and occupy themselves in Torah that even though some of them say “impure” and some say “pure”; or some say “invalid” and some say “valid”; or some say “forbidden” and some say “permitted”; nevertheless all of these opinions were given by the One.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #1:

Clearly the Gemora is being careful in its analysis of the word “all”. The text could have just plainly said “and God spoke these words, saying.” This topic is included in the topic of “these and these are the words of the Living God”. Rashi comments and considers in Gemora Ketubot (57a) that the reason why we say all of the opinions derive from the One is because sometimes one opinion is more appropriate while other times the other opinion is more appropriate depending on slight changes in the facts of the case.

Were it not for Rashi’s comment it would be possible to explain that it is precisely through various approaches that different opinions come into being. And through the different opinions [being considered] it is then possible to clarify the truth of a judgment. Were this not the case the sages would have fixed the halacha through their first, immediate intuition. [MUSKAL RISHON]; in this manner it is possible to make a mistake and to err.

This whole approach is according to the Gemora (Jerusalem Talmud: Sanhedrin: Chapter 11: Halacha 1) explanation of the verse in Ecclesiastes (12:11) “ The words of the wise are like spurs, and like nails well driven in are the sayings of the masters of collections, given from the One Shepherd.”  The Gemora there explains that the phrase “masters of collections” refers to the wise sages who sit together in groups and occupy themselves in Torah.

The idea is that through the give and take arguments and the different opinions that naturally occur; that the truth of an issue becomes clarified in a sound, fundamental and lasting manner. The value of the investigation and the discussion is like the well done plowing and the fundamental, lasting manner is analogous to the “nails well driven in”; and the whole purpose of the process is because all the opinions are given by the One Shepherd.   

This same idea is the reasoning for the statement in Gemora Berakos (63b) that the Torah can only be acquired with a group of people. When a wise sage occupies himself in Torah on his own, he becomes increasingly foolish. Also look in Gemora Taanis (7a). [R. Hama b. Hanina said: What is the meaning of the verse, Iron sharpneth iron?  This is to teach you that just as in the case of one iron sharpeneth the other so also do two scholars sharpen each other’s minds by halachah.] That is to say that it is impossible without the company of a fellow student or students to delve into the ultimate depths of an idea and the truth of a Torah teaching.

 We have more lengthy thoughts to say on this from an Aggadic standpoint, but here is not the place for lengthy comments.

DBS Note: This is a  fundamental theme of the Torah Temimah’s and he  never misses a chance to mention it. I also really enjoy when he speaks to the reader such as when he says he has more thoughts on this topic but now is not the place to mention them!

Lastly, again in this note, the Torah Temimah quotes Rashi’s opinion and then respectfully offers his own.

The summary of the Torah Temimah’s comment here is that while Rashi suggests that the reason for multiple opinions is that each is true in different circumstances, the Torah Temimah suggests that the reason for multiple opinions is that each person has a different mind, and therefore no individual can consistently arrive at the unitary truth on his or her own – it is only by comparing, contrasting, and debating the initial positions arrived at through our subjectively limited intuitions that we can discover the single objective truth of Torah. (Thanks to Rabbi Klapper for the succinct summary and to Rabbi Sendor for correcting a significant error I made in this note.)

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