Category Archives: Parshat כי תשא

Parshat כי תשא

Parshat כי תשא  Exodus 30:13 – Are Women Obligated To Give Half Shekel Before Purim?

Exodus 30:13 – This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of [such] a shekel shall be an offering to the Lord.

Jerusalem Gemora Shekalim Chapter 2, Halacha 3 – Rabbi Nehemiah said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai “Because they transgressed the ten commandments, that is the reason why everyone needs to give ten gerahs”.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation Note #24:

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai’s explanation is meant to explain the overall reason for the commandment to give a half a shekel. On the other hand, the prior comments of Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Nehemiah  were meant only to state why “half” a shekel needed to be given rather than a whole shekel. [Editor’s note: Check out the Torah Temimah’s comment on note 23.] Otherwise, one could ask on their explanations why Levites must also donate half a shekel since the Levites didn’t participate in the transgression of the Golden Calf. Rather, the reason for the giving of the money is so that there would be money to pay for the communal sacrifices each year as the verse states “to atone for their sins” – since that is the function of the sacrifices.

It is important to note that the custom in our day to give half a shekel in charity before the holiday of Purim is hinted at in our verse here. This is in accordance with that which is stated in Gemora Megilah 13b as follows “it was known to God [at the time this commandment was given] that in the future Haman would weigh plans [shkalim] against the Jews. There God preceded His shkalim to Haman’s shkalim.” Also look at the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim section 694 and in the Magen Avraham where they express surprise in the Maimonidean Notes that women and children are also obligated to give half a shekel before Purim. They are surprised at this because in the half a shekel mentioned in the Torah they are exempt.

In my opinion the issue is clear: in the Scriptural half a shekel the purpose was the take a census. Since women and children were not counted as part of the census, they were exempt at that time. This is not the case in the requirement to give half a shekel before Purim. This commandment is in remembrance of the miracle of Purim. Since women and children were included in that miracle, they are also obligated in the requirement to give half a shekel before Purim.

Editor’s Note: In this note, the Torah Temimah again emphasizes women’s mitzvah obligations against other authorities stating a lesser level of obligation.


Parshat כי תשא  Exodus 30:13 – Are Women Obligated To Pray the Musaf Prayer?

Exodus 30:13 – This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of [such] a shekel shall be an offering to the Lord.

Jerusalem Gemora Shekalim Chapter 6:Halacha 3 – Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai said “Any Cohen who doesn’t also contribute the shekel is guilty of a sin as the verse says, ‘this shall they give’. All twelve tribes must give”

 Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on the last section of Note #22:

Note that according to the Rambam and the Ramban, the obligation to contribute half a shekel begins when one reaches the age of thirteen plus one day as with all the other mitzvoth of the Torah.  Their opinion is that even though the following verse states “from age twenty and above” that is specifically speaking of the [time in the desert] and the obligation to contribute to the “Trumat HaAdanim”. Our verse, however, speaks of the contribution for the communal sacrifices and no age is specified. Therefore our verse applies from the age of thirteen. However, Rabbi Ovadia Bartenura in Chapter 1:43 of Shekalim and the Chinuch and the Rokeach HaGadol in Section 232 and the Vilna Gaon in his commentary on the Yerushalmi Shekalim Chapter 1:3; all have the opinion that the obligation to contribute to the communal sacrifices begins at the age of twenty as the simple meaning of the text would imply. The Vilna Gaon even states that this is the opinion of the Yerushalmi against the opinion of the Tosafot Yom Tov who questioned the above mentioned opinion of Rabbi Ovadia Bartenura.

A halachic ramification of this dispute that has a practical application in our day is mentioned by the Besamim Rosh in his halachic response relating to the Rosh’s comment in Section 69 that women are exempt from the obligation to pray the musaf prayer. The reasoning is that since this prayer is specifically connected to the musaf animal sacrifice that was offered [on Shabbat and Holidays in the Temple] and the funds for this sacrifice came from the half a shekel communal contribution, therefore women, who are exempt from the half a shekel communal contribution, are automatically exempt from the musaf prayer that corresponds to it. This opinion is also mentioned by Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Hayim Section 106.

If this is the case, then according to Rabbi Ovadia Bartenura and the Chinuch and the Vilna Gaon anyone under twenty years old is exempt from the half a shekel. According to this logic mentioned above then they are also not included in the musaf sacrifice and are also exempt from the musaf prayer. Further, anyone who is exempt from a mitzvah cannot complete it on behalf of someone else. Therefore, we should not choose anyone less than twenty years old to lead the musaf prayer in synagogue. That would [indeed] be a new teaching and very astounding!


Editor’s Note: In this note, the Torah Temimah goes on a tangent to discuss and critique a halachic opinion exempting women from the obligation to pray the musaf prayer. I believe that in the Torah Temimah’s world view, and the world view of religious people in general, the more obligations one has, the better. The Torah Temimah defends women and their status in many of his comments. This is one example.

Parshat כי תשא  Exodus 30:19 – Washing Feet Before Prayer

Exodus 30:19 – Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet from it

Responsa of the Rashba (Section 191): This verse is the source of the law mentioned in the Gemora (Brachot 15a) that one must wash before prayer

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #32:

[Our verse above is speaking of Aaron and his sons washing their hands and feet before offering the sacrifices but it is the source of the law for washing before prayer] Because prayer [in our day] has its source [and function] equal to sacrifices [at the time of the temple] as is discussed in the Gemora Brachot 26b. However, [the use of this verse as the source for this law] is only a hook [and not a definitive proof]. We know that it is only a hook because the law of prayer is that if one does not have water available one may use pebbles or dirt or wood chip to clean one’s hands. However for the sacrifices in the temple, it was absolutely required to use water, else one may not perform the sacrifice as is stated in Gemora Zevachim 19b.

Note that the Rambam in Chapter 4 of the Laws of Prayer states that for all prayers one must wash one’s hands, but the for the morning prayers one must wash his hands and his feet. The Ravad (Abraham ben David) criticizes this statement of the Rambam and states that he does not know the source from which the Rambam stated this. Many commentaries struggle to answer this criticism of the Rambam but me (the Torah Temimah) the answer is clear. The Rambam is of the same opinion as the Rashba noted above that the source for the obligation to wash for prayer is from the obligation to wash before the sacrificial offerings in the temple. Since this is the case, we see clearly that the obligation for prayer is to wash one’s hands and one’s feet as in the verse above.

This being the case, it is clear why the Rambam distinguishes between the morning prayer and the other prayers of the day. As the Rambam states in the beginning of the Laws for Prayer, the Biblical obligation of prayer is only once a day. The other prayers of the day are rabbinic decrees. Therefore, for the other prayers of the day, we only need to be careful that we are clean. However, for the initial prayer for the day we need to fulfil the requirement of performing it as did the priests in the temple [and wash both our hands and our feet.]

Note also that that in Gemora Brachot 53a we learn in a Mishna that the verse in Leviticus 11:44 that states: “you shall make yourselves holy and be holy” [is not repetitive]. The first mention of the word “holy” refers to the washing before eating [bread] and the second mention of the word “holy” refers to the law of washing after eating [bread, and before reciting the blessing after the meal].

This reason for this statement of the Gemora is apparently not clear nor is its source clear. [I believe] that the source is almost certainly that of the second braita mentioned in Tanna d’Vei Eliyahu on our verse above.

There the beraita states, “What is the biblical source of the obligation for washing the hands? It is from the obligation of Moshe and Aaron and his sons [to wash before performing the sacrifices] For the People of Israel [in general] the source is the verse in Leviticus “make yourselves holy and be holy”. It was because of this that Rabban Gamliel would eat [all] his food in a state of purity [indicating that he had washed before eating].” [End quote of the beraita.]

In other words, just like Moshe and Aaron made themselves holy by washing before performing the sacrifices through washing, so too when it says “holy” and refers to the People of Israel it also refers to washing.

See also Tosafot in Gemora Hulin 2b where Tosafot state that it is forbidden for an unclean person to eat unclean food. There he quotes the verse “make yourselves holy and be holy” as the source for this law. This indicates that Tosafot understood this verse as a caution to the People of Israel to eat [all food] in a state of purity. The GRiV comments that he does not know the source of Tosafot’s statement and that if one looks at the Gemora Brachot 53b, one will see that the verse “make yourselves holy and be holy” is used for a different teaching.

In my opinion though, it is clear that the Tosafot were using the beraita quoted in Tanna d’Vei Eliyahu [as their source.]


Editor’s Note: In this note, the Torah Temimah shows the source of the Rambam’s opinion that there is an obligation to wash one’s hands and one’s feet before the Morning Prayer. This answers the challenge of the Ravad on the Rambam. He then shows the source to wash before and after eating bread. In doing he answers the challenge to Tosafot’s comment on Gemora Hulin 2b.


Parshat כי תשא Exodus 33:11 – Do You Have Doubts?

Exodus 33:11 Then the Lord would speak to Moshes face to face, as a man would speak to his companion, and he would return to the camp, but his attendant, Joshua, the son of Nun, a lad, would not depart from the tent.

Gemora Temurah 16a – Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rav: At the time that Moshe was about to die, he said to Joshua, “Ask me about any doubts that you have.” Joshua replied, My Master, have I ever left you for one hour and gone elsewhere? Did you not write concerning me in the Torah: “But his servant Joshua the son of Nun would not depart from the tent”? Immediately his strength weakened and he forgot three hundred laws and there arose [in his mind] seven hundred doubts.

 Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #17:

It is explained in the Gemora that it was Moses whose strength got weaker and that there were immediately forgotten 300 laws.  Rashi explains that it refers to Joshua [forgetting the 300 laws]. In other words, Moses was distraught that Joshua was as great as he was, and because of the pain caused to Moshe, Joshua was punished.

But, in my opinion, this does not make sense. It does not sound likely that Moshe would be distraught by Joshua’s greatness. Wasn’t it Moshe who said [in the episode with Eldad and Medad] that HaShem gives the power of prophesy to who He sees fit and, in fact, all of the people are prophets?

Therefore, it seems more appropriate to say that the text should read that Joshua’s strength got weaker and that it was Joshua who forgot all these laws. In other words, Joshua was punished because of his hubris in saying that there was not a single thing that he had a question about.

Editor’s Note: In this note, the Torah Temimah disagrees with Rashi’s explanation and suggests that there might be a textural error in the Gemora.

Parshat Ki Tisah Shmos 34:6 – Hashem’s relationship to sinners

Parshat כי תישא  Exodus 34:6 – Hashem’s relationship to sinners

Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed: The LORD, the LORD, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;

Exodus 34:7 keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.

Rosh Hashanah (17b): [Why does the verse say “The LORD the LORD”?].  I am The LORD before a person sins.  I am The LORD after a person sins.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #5:

At first glance this requires further investigation.  Why does a person need divine mercy before sinning?  Perhaps to help the person so as not to sin.  As the verse states [7:20]: For there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.   Therefore every person needs some help.

Tosafot, on this passage of the Talmud writes[1], ” Megilat Setarim[2] of Rabeinu Nissim does not include the first occurrence of ‘The LORD’ when citing this passage of Talmud because there is a separation between the two instances of The LORD.  The verse means that the Holy One Blessed is He, whose name is The LORD, called out, ‘The LORD , merciful and gracious …’.  Because of this, Megilat Setarim counts keeping mercy for thousands of generations as two attributes”  A proof for this is what is written in Parshat Shelach [Numbers 14: 17-18]: Moses says “And now, I pray Thee, let the power of the LORD be great, according as Thou hast spoken, saying: The LORD is slow to anger, and plenteous in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.”  This fits well with what Megilat Setarim says.  Since the first The LORD refers to Hashem speaking, it makes sense that when Moses repeats what Hashem said, he only mentioned The LORD once [take note].

Know that in Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer, end of chapter 46, it says: “Moses started crying out The LORD, the LORD, God, merciful and gracious … please forgive the iniquity of the Children of Israel regarding the golden calf.”  This midrash holds that Moses said all 13 attributes not Hashem.  Thus the verb he called refers to Moses.  This needs further analysis based on the verse in Numbers, cited above, that explicitly states that the Hashem said them as Moses utters after the incident with the spies “As You spoke saying: The LORD merciful and gracious …”  Furthermore, the language in Exodus [34:8]: “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped” implies that what transpired above was not referring to Moses.  Rabeinu David Luzato, in his commentary to Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer, brings proof for the midrash from the Talmud Yoma (36b) stating that Moses said “forgiving iniquity and transgression”.  There is no proof from here because elsewhere in the Talmud we see statements attributed to Moses, which he clearly did not utter, such as, (Yevamoth 49b): “Moses said ‘no mortal shall see Me and live’ (Exodus 33:20)”  The Talmud attributes the statement to Moses because he wrote it in the Torah.  Similarly here (Yoma 36b).  Perhaps the intent of the Talmud (Yoma 36b) referring to Moses saying “forgiving iniquity and transgression” is, as we shall see, that Moses asks Hashem, when the Children if Israel sin, He should treat intentional sins as unintentional sins, provided that they repent.  Thus Moses actually said “forgiving iniquity and transgression.”

It appears that the Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer refers to Moses beseeching Hashem after the incident with the spies.  This is supported by the verse sited at the end of the midrash “The LORD said ‘I have forgiven as you requested.'”, which is also written by the incident with the spies.  There is no contradiction when the midrash refers to Moses crying out about the iniquity of the golden calf because Moses addresses the root of Hashem’s anger, the iniquity of the golden calf, as the verse says (Exodus 32:34): “nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

Still it is not clear how the midrash infers that Moses cried out in a loud voice?  Perhaps Rabbi Eliezer (the author of Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer and the great sage Rabbi Eliezer are the one and the same) is consistent with his opinion in the Talmud [Berachot 32a]: When the verse (Exodus 32:11) says: “And Moses besought the LORD …” it teaches Moses stood in prayer until he was overcome by shuddering[3].  The Talmud says that אחילו literally means fire of the bones, which Tosafot explains means a great fervor.  It is well known that one who speaks with such great excitement, such as this, is not aware of oneself and often begins shouting in a loud voice. [This may be the reason for the custom of saying the 13 attributes aloud when praying as a congregation.]

Editor’s Note: This note shows his incredible knowledge of the rabbinic sources (Talmud and midrash).  He could have ended the commentary after the citing the passage from Tosafot, yet he felt compelled to mention the apparently contradictory midrash from Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer so that he could reconcile this midrash with the Talmud Yoma and the commentary of Tosafot.  While many people will ignore such contradictions, noting that many midrashim appear to be contradictory, the Torah Temimah cited the midrash in order to reconcile what appears to be contradictory statements of the Rabbis of blessed memory.  In reconciling the two sources, he infers a reason why, when praying as a congregation, we say the 13 attributes aloud.


[1] Rosh Hashanah 17b o.v. 13 Attributes: Rabeinu Tam says the first Two names of Hashem are two attributes (out of the 13) as the Talmud says here: “I am Hashem before a person sins to have mercy on the person and I have mercy after the person sins provided the person repents.  Hashem is the attribute of mercy unlike Elokim, which is the attribute of judgment. [Thus there are two different attributes of mercy].  Iniquity (עון), transgression (פשע), sin (חטא) and cleansing (נקה) are counted as another 4 attributes as the Talmud in Yoma 36b expounds: Iniquity refers to intentional sins.  Transgression refers to rebellious acts.  Sin refers to unintentional sins.  However, Megilat Setarim of Rabeinu Nissim does not count the first Hashem because there is a separation between the two names of Hashem, that is, the Holy One blessed is He, whose name is Hashem called, “Hashem is merciful and gracious ”  Keeping mercy unto thousands of generation is then counted as two attributes.  Keeping mercy is one.  For thousands of generations is another 500 times greater that the attribute retribution.  Retribution to 4 generations.  Keeping mercy for 200 generations (five times greater than 4)

[2] A book written by Rav Nissim Gaon, parts of which have been discovered from the Cairo Geniza .  The book includes 250 symbols representing all the questions asked.  Also includes a commentary of halakhic questions in the Talmud.  This book has been translated and published by Rabbi Yosef Kapach .

[3] Hebrew: אחילו from the same root as ויחל

Parshat כי תשא Shmos 30:19 – Impeccable Logic

Exodus 30: 19  And Aharon and his sons will wash their hands and feet from it.

Gemora Zvevachim (21a) From it and not “in it”.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #33:

If the Cohanim [priests] were to place their hands inside the laver and [wash their hands by] shaking them, this would be unacceptable. Read the Tosafot in Gemora Chullin 107a  where Tosafot quote the Baal Halachos Gedolos as saying that if one were to wash one’s hands for eating in this manner [inserting your hands in the washing cup and shaking them], that would be acceptable. The reason for the difference between the Cohen’s washing [kiddush yadaim] and washing for eating is due to our posuk explicitly saying “from it” meaning absolutely not “in it”. However, regarding the washing for eating there is no posuk and therefore no exclusion regarding “in it”.

However, Tosafot argue with the Baal Halachos Gedolos and say that he is wrong. They say this because, in their opinion, the reason why “in it” is not acceptable for the Cohanim is because washing must be done intentionally by a person’s actions (koach gavra). Further Tosafot state that shaking one’s hands within the laver would not constitute “person’s actions.”  Tosafot state that perhaps the Baal Halachos Gedolos is of the opinion that the Cohanim’s washing does not require “person’s actions”.  This issue of whether the Cohanim’s washing must be done by a person’s actions is the discussion [argument] between Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbanim in the Gemora. The Rabbanim think that “person’s actions” is not required; and Tosafot say that the Baal Halachos Gedolos must agree with the Rabbanim. However, the understanding of this section of the Gemora is that the halacha is according to Rabbi Yehuda.

Note that in the Orach Hachim Section 159, subsection 7[VALIDATE THIS] the decision is that in the case of a dire need it would be allowable to rely on the Baal Halachos Gedolos. Look also in the Taz and the Magen Avraham.

It seems to me [however] that the Baal Halachos Gedolos thinks that in this case [of shaking one’s hands within the vessel] is also called “person’s actions”. [Really], what difference would it make if he pours the water over his hands or puts his hands into the vessel and shakes them? Isn’t it so that in either case the washing that results is from a person’s actions?

However, when water flows of its own without any action by anyone at the time of the pouring such as from a drainpipe or a faucet[it would not be called ‘washing as a result of a person’s actions.] The proof [that putting your hands and shaking them in a vessel] and shaking them is called “person’s actions” is from the fact that if the washing for the Cohanim absolutely requires “person’s actions” why would I need the posuk to explicitly say “from it” when I would have known logically [that putting one’s hands in the laver and shaking them is unacceptable.] Therefore, we have to conclude that certainly putting one’s hands in the laver and shaking them is called “person’s actions” according to the rationale that we described above. Therefore, you need the posuk to explicitly teach us that nevertheless, this method is unacceptable for the Cohanim.

Please note that the Beis Yosef in his Orach Chaim Section 4 mentions that the Rashba also agreed with the Baal Halachos Gedolos.

The Rashba says as follows, “shaking one’s hands inside of a vessel whether for morning [prayers] or for eating is acceptable as we see from the posuk that says that for the Cohanim they must wash ‘from it’ and not ‘in it.’ Hence we can conclude that in general [not relating to the Cohanim in the temple] it is acceptable to shake one’s hands inside a vessel. “

Regarding this Rashba, the Beis Yosef comments that from the fact that he explicitly mentions morning prayers, we see that the Rashba would not find this method acceptable for the initial washing that a person does in the morning upon waking to remove the bad spirit. In fact, for the initial washing it is only acceptable to pour water on one’s hands three times [each.] The Shulchan Aruch also agrees with this.

In my opinion, however, this requires further investigation. If the Rashba meant that shaking one’s hands in a vessel is acceptable for prayer, and the source for washing for prayer is from the Cohanim and yet the Rashba permits shaking one’s hands in a vessel for prayer since the comparison with the Cohanim is only a hint and a general sign [I cannot understand why it would not also be acceptable for the initial washing in the morning.] This requires further investigation.


Editor’s Note: It seems to me that the Torah Temimah’s logic in this note is crystal clear and disagrees with the logic of the Tosafot. To me this illustrates how it is that Talmudic learning continues to excite and motivate students even after thousands of years.


Parshat כי תשא Shmos 34:27 – Writing Down the Unwriteable

Exodus 34: 27  The Lord said to Moses: “Write these words for yourself, for according [literally by the mouth of] to these words I have formed a covenant with you and with Israel.”

Gemora Gittin (60a) Rabbi Yehuda Bar Nahmani said ‘One half of the posuk says “Write it for yourself” and the other half says “according to these words” [literally ‘by the mouth.’] How can these both be possible? The answer is: Written things [teachings] are not appropriate to be said aloud and Oral things [teachings} should not be said through writing’[1]

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #40:

In other words, both are true and the fact that the two phrases are attached as one teaches that this principle should never be overturned. The part that was given in writing is not appropriate to be said orally. And this that was given orally, it is not appropriate to write it.

It is not clear to me what Rashi means when he writes, “The teachings that I told to you in writing, it is not appropriate for you to give them to the Israel orally”. Why does Rashi explicitly mention not being permitted to give to Israel orally? Doesn’t this prohibition apply to each individual? Perhaps the explanation is related to the statement of God to Moshe that the purpose of saying the Torah is to teach it to Israel. This issue requires further study.

Many reasons have been suggested regarding this prohibition of not writing the oral teaching. The Rambam writes in the Guide for the Perplexed in the beginning of chapter 71, Part 1 as follows:

Even the traditional Law, as you are well aware, was not originally committed to writing, in conformity with the rule to which our nation generally adhered, “Things which I have communicated to you orally, you must not communicate to others in writing.” With reference to the Law, this rule was very opportune; for while it remained in force it averted the evils which happened subsequently, viz., great diversity of opinion, doubts as to the meaning of written words, slips of the pen, dissensions among the people, formation of new sects, and confused notions about practical subjects. The traditional teaching was in fact, according to the words of the Law, entrusted to the Great Tribunal, as we have already stated in our works on the Talmud. (Introd. to Mishneh Torah and Introd. to Commen. on the Mishnah).

 According to the logic of the Rambam, this would also be good reasons for conforming to the second principle of not saying that which has been written. That which is set and fixed and written down should not be taught orally.

However, in our day, due to the diminution of intellect, it has been permitted to learn both orally and by writing. This is due to the principle of “When it is time to do for God, it is permitted to nullify His Torah”[2] In other words, because of the diminution of intellect [in our times] there was a concern that all of Torah would be forgotten [and therefore writing down the oral law became permitted.] This is the conclusion of the Gemora Temurah 14b.

You should also be aware that we find in the Talmud and the Braitot a variety of Rabbinic teachings that seem to take the words of the chumash out of their normal, simple understanding. For example in the Gemora Brachos 32a it says as follows:

What is ‘ And Di-Zahab’? They said in the school of R. Jannai: Thus spoke Moses before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, the silver and gold [zahab] which Thou didst shower on Israel until they said, Enough [dai], that it was which led to their making the Calf. [3]

 In all of these examples [see footnote below], our Sages’ intent is not, God forbid, to actually say that these explanations are the express meaning of the words. Rather, because of the principle of not writing down the oral teachings, it was difficult for students to remember all the oral teachings and even more difficult to remember aggadic teachings. Therefore, our Sages had the idea to pin/attach to a scriptural verse all the sayings that they had been taught in order to make them easier to remember. This works because it is human nature to remember something better if it has a tangible sign that can be seen and felt [like a posuk in the Torah].

Further, we also find that even for laws that were “halacha Moshe m’Sinai” [biblical laws that Moshe received on Mt. Sinai], our Sages also endeavored to find attachments in the text of the Chumash itself. For example, the measurements of separations and partitions mentioned in Eruvin 4b and the details of the knot the tefillin mentioned in Berakot 7a and the issue of pouring of the water libation on Succos mentioned in Rosh Hashana 7a, and many similar examples.

Regarding all of these we find in many places in the Talmud that our Sages praise this ability to find attachments, links and signs [in the text of the Chumash.] As it says in Gemora Shabbos 104a “devise mnemonics in the Torah and thus acquire [memorize] it.” Additionally it says in Gemora Erubin 21a “Besides that Kehelet [King Solomon] was wise, he also taught the people knowledge through affixing signs.” Rashi explains that he established signs whether with the letters of the text [of the Chumash] or with the text of the Mishnah. See also Erubin 54a regarding making signs. In the Yerushalmi Shabbos Chapter 19, Halacha 1, it says, “All Torah that doesn’t have a ‘beit av’ isn’t real Torah.” The commentaries there explain that this means it doesn’t have an example from another place to help one grasp and learn it. Because without this, it will end up being forgotten. This is precisely what we find in many places [in the Talmud] where the Sages attached laws or various conclusions onto the words of some posuk or single word that is only tangentially or even totally unrelated to the topic that is being discussed. For examples, see Shabbos 90b and Ketubot 72b, and Baba Metizah 86a and Baba Metziah 106a and Avodah Zara 8a and Avoda Zara 9a and b and 29a and Chullin 47b and Niddah 45b. The intent in all of these is to make these matters easy to remember as I said above. In this method did they also explain the posuk regarding the butler who “did not remember Yosef and forgot him” which seems redundant. The commentaries explain that the butler did not make a zecher [both remembrance and sign] in order to remember and that precisely therefore he forgot. This similarly is the explanation for the verse “remember what Amalek did to you” which I will explain in its place, God willing. Further, Tosafot write at the end of Gemora Megilla 32a that they were accustomed to learn Mishnayot to a tune since they were learning it orally. With the tune they were able to remember it better. Examine that Tosafot. We already mentioned and we will mention again God willing this general topic with further explanations in various places in our book. For now, we’ve said enough here.

Editor’s Note: This note is simply amazing. His incredible knowledge of the Talmud (Babylonian and Jerusalem) as well his humanity shine through and the way he addresses the reader of his book expresses both.

Further, I think that the Torah Temimah spends so much effort in this note and throughout his book on this topic because he feels this is a very important issue. He is bringing many proofs to show that the rabbis are not explaining these posukim as much as leveraging them as a method to remember received rabbinic and even biblical laws that were taught as “halacha Moshe m’Sinai”. These explanations must not be taken as the pshat or actual meaning of the text.


[1] This translator cannot find this exact text in the Gemora

[2] This topic is huge and beyond the scope of this translation.

[3] The Torah Temimah actually lists 5 other examples from all over the Talmud. They are in Baba Kama 60b, Baba Basra 75a, Eruvin 54a and Chullin 5a.