Vol 36.15 - Yitro 1 Spanish French Audio Video
1. It states in our Parsha (Ex. 19:3-6):
"So shall you say to the house of Jacob . . You have seen etc.. And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure . . These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Rashi comments on the words “These are the words” and states:
“These are the words: No less and no more”
The commentators ask, why would one think that that Moshe Rabbeinu would detract or add to G-d’s words, so much so that there has to be a special adjuring: “These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel - No less and no more”? Furthermore, if there is indeed a need for this, why do we not find this adjuring by other commandments?
The Gur Aryeh answers that:
“The supposition is that Moshe would persuade them himself, not that he would add to G-d’s words, but rather that he himself, would, add desirable words (דברי ריצוי) and say to them that these are his own words. (Therefore, Scripture states that) even this is prohibited. The reason of the matter is that they should not afterward say that they were excessively persuaded to accept the Torah”.
However, this explanation only resolves the need for the adjuring not to add (“no more”). Yet, it is still problematic why it is necessary to warn “No less”. For is there a supposition that Moshe Rabbeinu would not fully convey to Bnei Yisroel G-d’s words?
It appears plainly, that this Rashi comes in continuation to his comment in the beginning of the matter:
On the verse:
"So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel”.
Rashi comments on the words, “to the house of Jacob” and states:
“to the house of Jacob: These are the women. Say it to them in a gentle language”.
In addition, on the words, “and tell the sons of Israel” Rashi comments:
“and tell the sons of Israel: The punishments and the details (of the laws) explain to the males, things that are as harsh as wormwood”.
We thus find that in the manner of conveying G-d’s words, there is a critical difference between men and women.
According to this, one could say that G-d’s words here, were said to Moshe just in a general manner (באופן כללי), and later on, at the time of delivering the words to Bnei Yisroel, there were differences.
The ramification of the words “These are the words . .No less and no more” is that G-d’s words were said here in a manner that Moshe did not need to add to them.
2. However, the matter is still not completely resolved. For the aspect of the “the details of the laws” is only relevant where there is a detailed command. However, in these verses, only a general exhortation is stated, as it says: “if you obey Me and keep My covenant”.
Also there is no punishment stated for not obeying the Torah, but rather just positive desirable words and the reward for keeping the Torah, as it states “you shall be to Me a treasure . . a kingdom of princes etc.” (as Rashi explains that “kingdom of kohanim” means “(a kingdom) of princes”).
Therefore, one must say that Rashi’s comment “and tell the sons of Israel” – “the punishments and the details of the laws, explain to the men” means that Moshe needed to delineate and explain them, even though they were not expressly stated in G-d’s words here.
However, it is puzzling how this fits with Rashi’s explanation on “These are the words” – “No less and no more”. Namely, that Moshe was not to add anything to G-d’s words (even in the capacity of “his own words”, as aforementioned)?
There are commentators that divide the verses.
In other words,
(According to this the words of the verse “These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” are understood to mean that “these last words, namely, ‘you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes .. and a holy nation’ is to be said by you to Bnei Yisroel (the men))
However, this explanation is difficult to resolve in Rashi (who explains the simple understanding of the verse). For beside that which, according to the simple understanding, the words “These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel” means to all Yisroel, both men as well as women
(For according to Rashi, the intent of the verse “These are the words” is to adjure “No less and no more” – and not that these last words are just meant for the men. Moreover, according to their explanation, the warning of “No less and no more” just applies to the men!)
Moreover, according to Rashi, the explanation of “kingdom of kohanim” here is not “servants” ( משרתים) but rather “princes” (as aforementioned).
Therefore, it still is not answered why Rashi states, “The punishments and the details of the laws explain to the males” (as aforementioned). For these verses do not contain any “punishments and the details of the laws”. In addition, since Moshe warned them in a manner of “No less and no more”, how can one explain the “punishments and the details of the laws”?
3. One must also examine:
After stating the aforementioned verses, it is told:
“Moshe came and summoned the elders of Israel and placed before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him’
This is seemingly puzzling. Moshe was commanded "So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel”, and as Rashi explains that he was required to speak to the women first in a gentle language, and afterward to the men “words as harsh as wormwood”. If so, how was G-d’s command fulfilled by summoning the elders of Israel and placing G-d's words before them?
The Mechilta there states:
“We are hereby apprised that Moshe accorded honor to the elders”.
Plainly, the intent of the Mechilta is to answer this question
(as is explained by the commentators, that according to the Mechilta, the intent is not that Moshe delivered to them G-d’s words, but rather that he spoke to the women and men, in the presence of the elders, in order to accord them honor. This is why the verse precisely states, “(he) placed before them all these words etc.”, and does not state that he spoke to them).
However, Rashi leaves this (סתם) and does not explain anything. Yet, it is simple that one cannot say that Rashi relies on the one learning Scripture to understand all this himself. Therefore, one must say that according to Rashi’s view, from the very onset, there is no question.
4. In the strict sense (ולחומר הענין) it appears (even though it is somewhat difficult) that the words “So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel” does not refer to the later verses. Rather that this is a general directive (הוראה כללית) to Moshe Rabbeinu that is relevant to the entire Torah. in other words, that the beginning of G-d’s words to Moshe, when he ascended the mountain, for the first time in order to receive the Torah, was a general directive for all times. Namely that the manner of conveying G-d’s words to Bnei Yisroel is that to the women one must speak in a gentle language whereas to the men “words as harsh as wormwood”.
Regarding the entire Torah there is no need for the adjurings of “No less and no more”. For certainly Moshe explained and taught Bnei Yisroel G-d’s words with explanation etc. Moreover, in this itself, there is a difference between men and the women.
And afterward G-d said the first words that were to be delivered to Bnei Yisroel –
“You have seen . . And now, if you obey . . you shall be to Me etc.”.
And at the conclusion he added “These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel” to warn that even though with regard to the Torah, in general, Moshe needs to add clarification and explanation, and at times there is a need to be concise (as aforementioned). However, in this case, namely for these three verses, he is to deliver the words in a manner of “No less and no more”.
(One could say that this is why the verse concludes, “that you shall speak to the children of Israel”. The intent of this is for all Yisroel to emphasize that in these words there is no difference between men and women.
5. One can bring a proof that this is Rashi’s intent, by explaining these verses:
In the Mechilta on the verse “So (כה) shall you say” it states:
(And at the end of the aspect on the verse he explains:
Rashi, however, changes from the words of the Mechilta. For on the words “So (כה) shall you say” he explains:
“With this language and in this order”
In other words:
The reason, seemingly, why Rashi omits “you shall not detract or add” is because this aspect is learned from the conclusion of the section in the verse, “These are the words” (note: implying these exact words). Therefore, why do we need two inferences to explain this? Therefore, he explains that, “So shall you say” teaches just that it is “With this language and in this order”.
Whereas, “These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel” teaches “These are the words: No less and no more”.
However, it still requires explanation. For the derivation of “So shall you say” is from that which the words “So shall you say” depicts precision. If so, how can one say () that the precise wording “So shall you say” does not include the aspect of “No less and no more”. So much so that it is necessary for the verse to add another time, “These are the words”?
According to the aforementioned (Par. 4) it comes out simply.
For since “So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel” refers to the entire Torah, there is no room to say that Moshe was not able to add clarification and explanation. On the contrary, this is the role of Moshe, to explain the Torah to Bnei Yisroel
(and plainly, he explained G-d’s words even in other languages (if there was a need for this) and not specifically in the holy tongue).
Therefore, Rashi explains that the intent of the precise words “So shall you say” is like the express aspect of the verse here, namely the order of delivering the Torah’s words to women and to men.
Namely that it must be:
However, afterward, in the verse, “These are the words” that refer to these three verses, the extra words of the verse teach us that these words are different from the entire Torah. For Moshe needed to convey these words exactly - “No less and no more”.
M'Sichas Shabbat Parshat Yitro and Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim 5741