QUESTION: Rebbi Chanina ben Agil asked Rebbi Chiya bar Aba why, in the first set of Luchos, there is no mention of "Tov," while in the second set of Luchos, "Tov" is mentioned (in the commandment to honor one's parents, "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach"). Rebbi Chiya bar Aba responded that instead of asking why it mentions "Tov," one should ask whether it says "Tov" altogether, and he sent Rebbi Chanina ben Agil to Rebbi Tanchum bar Chanilai.
Rebbi Chanina ben Agil said that he heard from Shmuel bar Nachum that the reason why "Tov" is not mentioned in the first Luchos is that the first Luchos were destined to be broken, and Hash-m did not want the "Tov," the good destined for the Jewish people, to be "broken" with the Luchos.
This Gemara is perplexing. How could the Amora, Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, say that he did not know whether or not the Torah says "Tov" in the second set of Luchos? Every Amora certainly knew the verses in the Torah, and even if, for some reason, he did not know the verse, he simply could have looked it up. What does the Gemara mean when it says that Rebbi Chiya bar Aba said that he did not know whether the Torah says "Tov" in the second set of Luchos? (See TOSFOS to Bava Basra 113a, DH Tarvaihu.)
Moreover, the Gemara answers that it does not say "Tov" in the first Luchos since those Luchos would eventually be broken, and if "Tov" would be written in them the Jewish people would, Chas v'Shalom, lose that Tov. This implies that the verses in Parshas Yisro and in Parshas Va'eschanan discuss two separate sets of Luchos. The verses in Parshas Yisro describe what was written on the set of Luchos which Moshe Rabeinu received on Shavuos, which were broken on the seventeenth of Tamuz when Moshe Rabeinu descended the mountain and found the people worshipping the Egel ha'Zahav. The verses in Parshas Va'eschanan describe what was written in the second set of Luchos, which Moshe Rabeinu brought down to the Jewish people on the following Yom Kippur. The same conclusion may be drawn from the Pesikta Rabasi (beginning of Parshah 23), which implies that the description in Parshas Yisro is that of the first Luchos, while the description in Parshas Va'eschanan is that of the second Luchos. The Pesikta Rabasi addresses the fact that in the first account of the Aseres ha'Dibros it says, "Remember (Zachor) the Sabbath day," while in the second account it says, "Keep (Shamor) the Sabbath day." The Pesikta explains that the word "keep" is used in order to teach that the Jewish people were instructed that only through "keeping" the Shabbos would they succeed in "keeping" the second Luchos from being lost like the first Luchos. Here, too, the implication is that the account of the Aseres ha'Dibros in Va'eschanan records the text of the second Luchos, while the account in Yisro describes the text of the first Luchos.
However, the verses in both places clearly seem to describe the same set of Luchos -- those that Moshe Rabeinu received on Shavuos. The Aseres ha'Dibros of Va'eschanan are introduced with the words, "Hash-m spoke to you face to face on the mountain, from the midst of the fire. I stood between Hash-m and you... to tell you the word of Hash-m" (Devarim 5:4-5). This clearly seems to be a description of the oral delivery of the first Luchos amidst the spectacle of thunder and lightning and loud blast of the Shofar, in the presence of the entire congregation of Yisrael (as described in Shemos 20:14-17). Such details do not accompany the delivery of the second Luchos, which Moshe himself brought down for the Jewish people upon his return from Har Sinai (as described in Shemos 34:28-29 and Devarim 10:4-5).
The Rishonim address the differences between the two accounts with a common approach. When Moshe reviewed the Aseres ha'Dibros for the people, he added several explanatory comments of his own to the original wording. The Va'eschanan-version is Moshe's rewording of the Aseres ha'Dibros (IBN EZRA to Shemos 20:1, RAMBAN to Shemos 20:8, and others). This seems to be the approach of the Gemara in Shevuos (20b) as well.
What, then, is the meaning of the Gemara here, and of the statement of the Pesikta Rabasi, which imply that the Aseres ha'Dibros quoted in Va'eschanan is a description of the giving of the second Luchos?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON (in Chidushei Agados) explains that Rebbi Chanina ben Agil understood that "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" refers to reward in this world, since the phrase "l'Ma'an Ya'arichun Yamecha" in the same verse (Devarim 5:16) already includes reward in the World to Come. Rebbi Chanina wondered why the first version of the Aseres ha'Dibros does not include this promise of reward in this world.
Rebbi Chiya bar Aba replied that he is not sure whether "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" indeed refers to reward in this world. Perhaps these words refer to reward in the World to Come, as Rebbi Yakov says in Kidushin (39b). He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum in order to clarify this point. Rebbi Tanchum agreed that the verse indeed promises reward in this world, but it was not written in the Luchos in order that the promise not be shattered along with the Luchos, symbolizing the loss of all good in this world.
In the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros this promise of reward does appear. This promise shows that Hash-m intended to reward the performance of the Mitzvah of Kibud Av va'Em with a promise of good in this world as well, even though it was not written explicitly in the Luchos because of the reason that Rebbi Tanchum gave.
(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA explains that the fact that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" were not written in Parshas Yisro but were included in Parshas Va'eschanan teaches one of two things: it either teaches that although they were not written in the Luchos, Hash-m nevertheless said those words, or it teaches that they were not written on the Luchos and Hash-m did not say them, but Moshe Rabeinu added those words in explanation of the Aseres ha'Dibros (as the Ibn Ezra explains). Rebbi Chiya bar Aba meant that he did not know which of these two options is correct -- did Hash-m actually say "l'Ma'an Yitav" or was it an explanation added by Moshe Rabeinu? Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, therefore, could not answer the question of Rebbi Chanina, because the answer would differ depending on whether Hash-m spoke the words of "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach," and Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was uncertain about this. He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum, who answered that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" were not written in the Luchos in order to prevent their loss with the breaking of the Luchos (and that is why they do not appear in Parshas Yisro). However, the words were spoken by Hash-m even though they were not written in the Luchos.
(A similar answer can be found in HA'MIKRA V'HA'MESORAH of RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS, and in EMES L'YAKOV of RAV YAKOV KAMINETSKY, Parshas Va'eschanan 5:12, who calls the words that Hash-m spoke but did not write in the Luchos, "Kri v'Lo Kesiv.")
According to the Pnei Yehoshua, the Gemara does not mean that the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros refers to the second set of Luchos, but rather both refer to the first set that Moshe Rabeinu brought down on Shavuos.
(c) According to the approach of the Pnei Yehoshua, perhaps even according to Rebbi Tanchum Hash-m did not say the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach." Rebbi Tanchum is explaining two points: why Hash-m did not promise "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" verbally, and why He did not include it in the Luchos in written form, when the Luchos were given.
It remains to be explained in what manner the Jewish people would have lost "all good" had "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" been shattered together with the Luchos. Perhaps according to the above explanation, this Agadah may be understood as follows.
Why did Moshe Rabeinu feel the need to add explanatory remarks in the second account of the Aseres ha'Dibros? If the people understood the Aseres ha'Dibros the first time, why should they now require further explanation, forty years later? Moreover, what explanation is actually added by the numerous changes that Moshe Rabeinu made?
The Torah relates that when Hash-m saw the Jewish people's awe-filled reaction to His revelation, He said to Moshe, "Who would make it possible that the Jewish people would fear Me like this and keep all of My commandments all the days? Then they and their children would have good forever!" (Devarim 5:26). The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (5a) teaches that at that moment the Jewish people should have responded immediately to Hash-m's remark by exclaiming, "You make it possible for us!" Hash-m had given them a cue to declare their desire for Him to draw them closer, but they failed to grasp the hint.
Why did Moshe Rabeinu deem it fit to mention this comment of Hash-m's at this point, and not in Shemos in the context of the original narration of the revelation at Har Sinai? The Gemara explains that it was only at this time, forty years after the revelation, that Moshe realized that Hash-m gave this opportunity to the Jewish people. As the Gemara puts it, "A student does not fully understand the intent of his master's words until forty years after he has heard them."
Perhaps such an explanation may answer the questions above as well.
The matter may be elucidated by a parable. Once there was a father who intended to send his son off to school in a distant city. However, he had a relative in that city who was involved in all sorts of illegal schemes. The father suspected that the relative would try to lure his son away from earning an honest livelihood by enticing him with seductive, illegal offers. Naturally, the father wanted his son to avoid this relative at all costs. However, he knew that it would be counterproductive for him to give explicit instructions to his son to refrain from meeting the man, as such instructions would only arouse the boy's curiosity concerning the relative. The young man, suspecting some secret family feud, might even acquaint himself with the villain rather than shun him. Moreover, the son might feel insulted that his father showed such lack of confidence in his own judgment, making him unreceptive to the father's advice. Instead, the father offered his son several general, indirect suggestions: Do not keep company with a person whose integrity is in doubt; do not be eager to accept monetary offers from strangers; do not become taken in with seemingly easy schemes for making large amounts of money, etc. He hoped that through this kind of indirect counsel, the son would realize when the time of temptation would arrive that he should keep his distance from the relative.
This parable symbolizes the circumstances of the Jewish people at the time of the giving of the Torah. Hash-m knew that His children would soon face challenging situations and that their loyalty to Him would be put to the test. In fact, only forty days after the Torah was given, the incident of the Egel ha'Zahav took place right at the foot of Har Sinai. It was this incident which caused the loss of the first Luchos and which was destined to cause the Jews so much suffering and misfortune in the future (see Rashi to Shemos 35:34; Parashah Page, Balak and Tish'ah b'Av 5755). As the Mishnah says, "Everything is foreseen [by Hash-m]" (Avos 3:15) -- the past, present, and future are one to the Creator.
Perhaps Hash-m wanted to give His people some veiled warnings of the trials that awaited them. In this way, when the pitfall of the Egel ha'Zahav would present itself, perhaps the Jews would reconsider before they sin and would realize that Hash-m had cautioned them to beware of falling into such a trap. The Giver of the Law therefore implanted several tacit hints into the wording and nuances of the Aseres ha'Dibros. However, the intent of these hidden messages was lost on the people. Even Moshe Rabeinu himself did not grasp these subtle allusions until forty years later -- in hindsight, after the people's sin at Sinai was already history.
It took Moshe Rabeinu forty years to understand that the people had forever lost their opportunity to declare, "You make it possible for us not to sin!" At the same time, Moshe realized that Hash-m had been trying to give them the advice they would need to avoid sinning. Now, while he was delivering his farewell address of admonishment and warning to the Jewish people, he pointed out to them the several gentle warnings that Hash-m Himself had provided in the Aseres ha'Dibros.
Let us examine some of the differences in the wording of the two versions of the Aseres ha'Dibros and see how they can be explained according to this theory.
A reference to the Egel ha'Zahav may be found in the fourth commandment. In the Shemos-version, the fourth commandment enjoins the Jewish people to refrain from all Melachah on Shabbos -- "you, your servant, your maidservant and your animals." In Devarim this is rephrased as "you, your servant, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, and all your animals" (Devarim 5:14). Why are several examples of particular animals added?
The reason why Hash-m told the people to extend the Shabbos rest to their animals, Moshe Rabeinu now realized, was that there might have been an inclination among the people to accord a revered status -- or perhaps some element of divinity -- to some animals, thus exempting them from participating in Hash-m's ordained day of rest. For this reason Hash-m stressed that animals, too, must rest. In order to emphasize this point, Moshe Rabeinu now rephrased this sentence to explicitly equate the ox with all other animals as far as the day of rest is concerned. As Moshe Rabeinu explained, Hash-m hinted that the people should not bestow any form of veneration on any animal, particularly on the ox which He knew would soon become a snare for the people.
The phrase "as Hash-m had commanded you" is found twice in the second version of Aseres ha'Dibros -- in the fourth and fifth commandments, the commandment to observe Shabbos (verse 12) and the commandment to honor one's parents (verse 16). This phrase is not mentioned at all in the first version. Since Moshe Rabeinu was paraphrasing the words of Hash-m that were said at the time of the giving of the Torah, the words, "as Hash-m had commanded you," must mean that Hash-m had commanded these two laws some time prior to the revelation at Har Sinai. As the Torah relates (Shemos 16:25), the Jewish people were indeed given a series of laws at Marah several weeks before they arrived at Sinai, and Shabbos and honoring one's parents were among these laws (Rashi, ad loc.). Why, though, did Moshe Rabeinu need to remind the people of the episode at Marah?
Moshe Rabeinu realized now that the reason why Hash-m chose to prelude the giving of the Torah with these two Mitzvos, from all of the hundreds of other Mitzvos, was that He wanted the people to become accustomed to them even before their arrival at Har Sinai. These two precepts would prepare them, more than any other, to withstand the test that would face them there. What quality was unique to these two Mitzvos?
The Gemara teaches that the Mitzvah of Shabbos observance is considered as important as the observance of all the other Mitzvos combined. The same is said for the Mitzvah of refraining from idolatry (Eruvin 69b). The reason for this important emphasis on the Mitzvah of Shabbos is that the observance of Shabbos constitutes a declaration that one believes in Hash-m as the Creator of the universe.
Similarly, the Gemara teaches that honoring one's parents is tantamount to honoring Hash-m Himself (Yevamos 5a). (Recognizing one's indebtedness to his parents for having brought him into the world brings a person to a recognition of Hash-m.) In fact, the Gemara in Berachos (35b) says that "father" and "mother" may sometimes be understood to mean "Hash-m" and "the Congregation of Yisrael," respectively. Thus the commandment to honor one's father, if expanded to its broadest scope, will bring one to show honor to Hash-m as well.
These two Mitzvos -- Shabbos and honoring one's parents -- had the power to strengthen the Jews' trust in Hash-m. According to the Rashbam, this is why these are the only two positive Mitzvos included in the Aseres ha'Dibros. The only Mitzvos included are those that involve accepting upon ourselves the yoke of the service of Hash-m. That must be the purpose of the Mitzvos of observing the Shabbos and honoring one's parents as well (Rashbam, Shemos 20:7).
Moshe Rabeinu now realized that these two Mitzvos were given to the people before their time, so to speak, because of the important lesson they were intended to impart concerning the honor due to Hash-m. In fact, the Chachamim teach that had the Jews observed their first Shabbos properly, they never would have been exiled from their land (that is, they would not have sinned with the Egel ha'Zahav, which caused their eventual exile). The Gemara adds that even the worst idol-worshippers are absolved if they observe the Shabbos day (Shabbos 118b). Moshe Rabeinu now understood that the early start the Jews were given in these two Mitzvos was for the same reason that specifically these two positive commandments were chosen to be included in the Aseres ha'Dibros. This is why he mentioned the fact that the people had been forewarned of these Mitzvos in the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros.
The Gemara may now be understood as follows. The Gemara says that the reason why the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" (in the fifth commandment, honoring one's parents) were not written in the first Luchos was so that this promise for Hash-m's goodness not be broken along with the Luchos. The lesson of "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" -- "so that it will be good for you" (that is, this Mitzvah will help the Jewish people merit the eternal good of Olam ha'Ba and not only Olam ha'Zeh, since it will help them avoid the terrible sin that tempted them) was implicit in the text of the Aseres ha'Dibros, as Moshe Rabeinu himself pointed out in the Va'eschanan-version of the Aseres ha'Dibros. They were not stated explicitly in the Luchos, for had they been stated explicitly -- and the people would have sinned in spite of the explicit warning -- they would have lost the promise to attain any "goodness" forever. Their sin would have been so grave that they would have lost any chance of ever attaining the ultimate good.
The Pesikta quoted earlier says that the word used for Shabbos observance in Va'eschanan is "Keep (or be careful of) the Shabbos day," which implies that the Jewish people should keep these Luchos and not lose them as they did the first ones. Perhaps this change may be explained in a similar manner. It is not that the second Luchos actually included the word "Keep the Shabbos day." Rather, Moshe Rabeinu -- when he recounted what was written on the first Luchos -- pointed out to the people why the commandment of observing the Shabbos day was included in the Luchos. "Keeping" (i.e. observing) the Shabbos was the key to "keeping" the Torah permanently. Moshe Rabeinu used the word "keep" when he retold the events of the first Luchos in order to emphasize this message to the Jewish people. Observe the Shabbos properly, he said, and you will never again come into a situation where the Torah will become lost to you.