Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Table Talk -- Netzavim-Vayelech 5767

One of the verses in this week’s parshah presents a unique challenge addressed in three different ways by three different commentaries. At the end of Moshe’s final speech, the Torah tells us that, וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה, אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת – “and Moshe wrote this Torah, and he gave it to the Kohanim, the sons of Levi…” What exactly does Moshe write down?

  1. Ramban explains that Moshe actually writes down the entire Torah from the beginning of Bereishit until the very end of the Torah. Yet, according to Ramban’s interpretation, Moshe chronicles his own death before it actually occurs.
  2. Seforno suggests that Moshe only writes down the section of the Torah dealing with the commandment of hakhel – the commandment to gather the people together once every seven years to hear the reading of the Torah. Yet, why would Moshe write down and hand over only this small section of the Torah?
  3. Rashi agrees with Ramban, that Moshe writes the entirety of the Torah and hands it over to the Kohanim. Yet, he says that the handover takes place later – כשנגמרה כולה – “when it is completely finished.” Yet, according to Rashi, we’re left wondering why the Torah mentions the giving of the Torah when it actually happens later in the text.

Which interpretation is correct? They’re all correct; yet each one solves one problem while it creates another.