Vol 36.06 - Rosh Chodesh Shvat         Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5750) (Deut: 1:2):"In the eleventh month, on the first of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the L-rd had commanded him regarding them" - "He translated them into seventy languages (Rashi ibid);

Why was it necessary to translate the Torah for Bnei Yisroel into seventy languages;

Applying the name "Torah" to aspects of Torah that are learned in other languages; The connection to the aspect of "Mishneh Torah" that "Moshe said by himself" ( Tal Meg. 31b, Zohar 3:261a). and the Hilulah (Yartzeit) of the Rebbe Rayatz ( on the tenth of Shvat)  


1. On the verse (Dev. 1:3,5):

“It came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month . . Moshe commenced to explain this Law, saying”

The Sages state (and this is also cited in Rashi):

“He explained it to them in seventy languages”.

One must understand:

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu need to explain the Torah to the Yidden in seventy languages?

The Levush writes that:

“He was concerned perhaps they were not all fluent in the Holy Tongue, and they would not all understand. For certainly such a large multitude as this, which was in excess of sixty myriads, contained those who spoke many languages. Therefore, Rashi said “seventy languages”. In other words, since he was concerned that perhaps there were those who spoke different languages . . he (Moshe) certainly needed to explain it to them in all the seventy languages. For it is possible that one of them remained that spoke a language that he did not explain it in, and they would not understand it”.

 However, this explanation requires great examination:

For if Moshe Rabbeinu was concerned about this, why did he wait until now, at the end of forty years, to explain the Torah in seventy languages, yet did not do so immediately after Matan Torah? Moreover, did Moshe need to burden all Bnei Yisroel to hear the explanation in all seventy languages just because “he was concerned that perhaps they all did not speak the Holy tongue”?

There are those who write that “since Moshe Rabbeinu saw that Yidden would be exiled among the seventy nations, therefore he explained it in seventy languages, so that in any place that Yidden would come – they would be able to study it in that language”.

 However, even this explanation requires explanation:

For since this situation, would only be relevant when Yidden would be exiled among the seventy nations – why would Moshe Rabbeinu need to explain all this –

(Namely, the entire Torah seventy times, each time in a different language, and moreover, where most of Bnei Yisroel did not understand those languages at all. For the Sages state that even in the Sanhedrin, only a few understood all these languages –

and not rely on the Jewish Sages in the generations that there would be a need for this.

2. One could say that the explanation of this is:

The Ramban’s well-known words regarding the Holy tongue are that:

“(The reason that) the words of the Torah, and the prophecies and all words of holiness were all expressed in that language . . (is because) this is the language that the Holy One, blessed be He . . spoke with”.

According to this, since the Torah‘s aspect is “G-d’s Torah – He gave us His Torah“, therefore, Torah study, seemingly, should have been required to specifically be in the Holy tongue, the language that “G-d .. spoke with”.

  • This does not just pertain to the Written Torah, whose scope is, like its name – written words – the specificity of the words where there must not be a missing or extra letter (לא חסר ולא יתיר), as it was transmitted from G-d.

(So much so, that one who reads the Written Torah (even if one does not understand it) is considered Torah study),

Therefore, there is certainly a place to say that the reading of the Written Torah should specifically be in the Holy tongue (the language in which it was given by G-d).

  • Yet it even pertains to the explanation of the Torah and the entire Oral Torah, even though this seemingly, is related to understanding (which is why if one does not understand what one is studying, “it is not considered study, at all”).

Nevertheless, thought is not the same as speech (הרהור לאו כדיבור דמי), and there are many laws that refer to speaking words of Torah (even with regard to the Oral Torah). Such as the prohibition of speaking Divrei Torah (words of Torah) when one is naked (in which case, thought is permitted). As the Alter Rebbe rules that one does not recite the blessing on Torah (ברכות התורה) for thinking Divrei Torah, but rather specifically over speaking Divrei Torah, and other cases.

Since, even the Oral Torah is “from G-d, G-d’s Torah“, there is a place to say that the name and scope (שהשם וגדר) of Divrei Torah rests only on speech that is in the same language that G-d spoke – namely the Holy tongue.

This therefore was Moshe Rabbeinu’s accomplishment. Through his explaining the Torah in seventy languages – the name “Torah“ rests on words of Torah that are studied by Bnei Yisroel in other languages. For although this is not the language that G-d spoke, nevertheless the boundary of Divrei Torah applies to it. Therefore, when a person utters aspects of Torah from his mouth, in the language of the nations, he is uttering from his mouth Divrei Torah (and it is prohibited to speak them before he recites the blessing on Torah, etc.)

(One could say that a semblance of this is also found in the Torah itself, for it contains the language of the nations, for example:

  • Yegar Sahadutha (Witness Pile between Yaakov and Lavan)
  • Totafos (Tefilin ornaments) , and others.

The reason that these words are included in Torah (which is entirely from “from the Al-mighty”), is in order to have the, holiness of Torah, rest on these words. For through this, the language of the nations becomes fitting, to “convey” (להעביר) Divrei Torah though them. A semblance of this applies to the other languages when one learns Torah in them).

The reason that this aspect was accomplished specifically through Moshe Rabbeinu is because all the aspects of Torah were transmitted to Bnei Yisroel specifically through Moshe, as it states, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai” . so much so, that the Sages state, “Everything that a veteran scholar will innovate in the future, has already completely been said to Moshe at Sinai”.

The same is in this matter. The only way that the name “Torah” can rest on Divrei Torah that are spoken in the seventy languages - is through Moshe.

3. According to this, one can further explain an aspect that we find regarding the translation (תרגום) of the Torah into the seventy languages. For after Moshe Rabbeinu explained the Torah in the seventy languages, “Moshe and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying and it will be, on the day that you cross the Jordan . . you shall set up for yourself huge stones . . and you shall write upon the stones all the words of this Torah, very clearly”.

The Sages state on the words (and it is cited by Rashi), “very clearly": "in seventy languages”.

In other words, in addition to that which he explained the Torah, orally, in seventy languages, he commanded that the Torah be written in seventy languages.

According to what has been stated above, the reason that both are needed, is understood:

For Rambam explains that the writing (of the Sotah document) was “in the writing of each nation, of those nations”.

Therefore, we find that that there is no difference between that which he “explained the Torah to them in seventy languages” and writing the Torah in seventy languages, except whether it was orally or in writing. However, this applies even when it is speaking solely regarding the language of the nations or just in the writing of the nations. These are two aspects of “explaining it to them” and the writing.

  • The first is that the name and boundary (שם וגדר) of Torah should apply to the Torah that is learned in the languages of the nations.
  • The second is that the name “Torah” should apply to the writing of the nations, namely that the books containing aspects of Torah that are written in the language of the nations, are considered holy books (ספרי קודש) (which are forbidden to desecrate, etc.).

4. According to the simple meaning, this verse (“Moshe commenced to explain this Law”) speaks regarding the saying of Mishnah Torah (Devarim). From this, it is understood, that the theme of the explanation of the Torah, through Moshe Rabbeinu, into the “seventy languages”, has a connection with the innovation of Mishneh Torah.

According to the aforementioned, one can explain the connection between them, by prefacing a statement of the Sages:

“The curses in Mishneh Torah . . Moshe said them on his own

(Not like those in Torat Kohanim (Parshat Bechukotai) which “Moshe pronounced them from the mouth of the Al-mighty”).

It has already been explained in many places, that this principle, was stated not just to the aspect of the “The curses in Mishneh Torah” but rather that the entire sefer of Mishneh Torah was said by Moshe “on his own”.

The explanation of this matter is elaborated in the commentators. For seemingly, how is it possible to say on a verse of the five books of the Torah, that Moshe said it “on his own” (and not from the mouth of the Al-mighty). It is a clear Halacha that, “one who says Torah, even one verse or one word, is not from G-d. If he says: "Moshe made these statements independently" he is denying the Torah.”

Furthermore, Rambam states regarding the last eight verses at the conclusion of the Torah that – “it is all Torah, and Moshe said them from the mouth of the Al-mighty

The explanation of “Moshe said them on his own – and with Divine inspiration (וברוח הקודש)”, according to Tosafot, is that even the (curses of) Mishneh Torah were stated with Divine inspiration and they are part of Torah that was said “from the mouth of the Al-mighty”. However, there are many levels in “from the mouth of the Al-mighty”.

(Accordingly, regarding “the mouth of the Al-mighty” of the first four books of the Torah, the “Divine inspiration” of Mishneh Torah is considered to be in the scope of being called “on his own”, as will be explained in Par. 5)

This requires explanation:

Since the scope of the Written Torah (the five books of the Torah) is that it is entirely “from the mouth of the Al-mighty”

(and in this, it is different from the Prophets and the Writings, which were also said and written with prophecy or Divine inspiration, however which are not, at all, in that level of “from the mouth of the Al-mighty” like Torat Moshe),

If so, why are Moshe’s words, that were said (just) with “Divine inspiration”, also included in the Written Torah. So much so, that with regard to the first four books, they are considered “on his own”?

One could say that the explanation of this is:

The statement of the Sages:

 “Is there anything that is written in the Writings that is not alluded to in the Torah at all?”

is well-known.

Rashi explains that this means, “that Moshe did not allude to in the Torah. For the Chumash (Torah) is the foundation of the Prophets and the Writings, and in all of them there is a reference to be found from the Torah”.

According to this, one could say that, just as with the theme of the matters of Tanach, “there is a reference to be found from the Torah”, so too, is it regarding the manner of the revealing of the matters of Tanach. In order for the name “Torah” to apply to them, there must be a “foundation” (יסוד) to its being revealed, just like in Torat Moshe, itself.

In other words, the aspects of the books of the Prophets and the Writings (that were revealed through prophecy and Divine inspiration) are not just in the scope of “words of the Prophet” (דברי נביא) (and so forth). Rather they are “Torah”. Therefore, we are required to fulfill the commands that are in them.

(Not (just) due to the obligation to heed the ‘words of the Prophet’, but) due to the obligation of Torah to fulfill the “transmitted words” (דברי קבלה).

(Rather, they do not contain the same stringency as do the words of Torah - the five books of the Torah”

One could say that the foundation of this

(That the boundary of “Torah” applies to the things that were revealed through the prophecy or Divine inspiration)

in Torat Moshe itself, is Mishneh Torah, which was said (just) with Divine inspiration, yet nevertheless is a part of Torat Moshe – “for it is all Torah and Moshe said this from the mouth of the Al-mighty”.

5. In this way, one can also explain the words of the Zohar, that Mishneh Torah is called the “Oral Torah”, and that it is the source of the Oral Torah.

(As is explained in the sefer Megaleh Amukot, that “the aspect of Mishneh Torah refers to the secret of the Oral Torah that Yisroel received at the end of the forty years when they entered the Land”. This is also the allusion in the statement that there are “forty generations from Moshe Rabbeinu until Rebbe” who arranged the Mishnayot – which is similar to the “forty years that (Yisroel) waited to receive the Oral Torah”).

The connection of Mishneh Torah to the Oral Torah is understood according to that which is explained in many places, regarding the difference between “the mouth of the Al-mighty” of the four first books and “mouth of the Al-mighty” of Mishneh Torah.

The first four books were revealed through G-d. However, it was through the intermediary (באמצעותו) of Moshe. G-d placed the words in his mouth, and Moshe transcribed them, in a manner that Moshe’s knowledge and intellect (דעתו והשגתו) did not interfere with the transmission of the words.

Whereas in Mishneh Torah, even though the words of Mishneh Torah were also said “from the mouth of the Al-mighty”, nevertheless the revelation of the words was through Moshe. Moshe said G-d’s words on his own that he perceived with his intellect (השיג בדעתו). In other words, G-d‘s words were enclothed in Moshe‘s intellect (Therefore, Moshe transmitted them to Bnei Yisroel in a manner as if he said them “on his own”).

(This can be explained according to the words of the Ra’avan (Note: Rabbi Eliezer Ben Natan was a contemporary of Rashi's grandsons, grandfather of the Ra'avyah,and ancestor of the Rosh”) who explained the statement of the Sages that:

“Even one who does not derive homiletic interpretations from juxtaposed verses (דריש סמוכים) throughout the entire Torah, nevertheless, derives them in Mishneh Torah”.

“The reason is because the entire Torah was transmitted from the mouth of the Al-mighty, and the Torah is not written in chronological order (אין מוקדם ומאוחר). Whereas Moshe, who arranged Mishneh Torah Parsha after Parsha, did not arrange it so, save for homiletic interpretation”.

One could say that his intent is that in the first four books of the Torah, where G-d placed his words in Moshe‘s mouth

(Without intermingling Moshe’s knowledge and intellect),

there is no necessity that there would be a reason in Moshe’s intellect regarding the juxtaposition of the words, Therefore one does not derive homiletic interpretations from juxtaposed verses (לא דריש סמוכים).

Whereas, in Mishneh Torah, where the words and their order were contemplated by Moshe in his intellect, and who said G-d‘s words on his own, as he understood them. If so, it must be that he arranged the words as he understood and contemplated them. Therefore, one may derive homiletic interpretations from juxtaposed verses (of Mishneh Torah). For he did not arrange it so, save for homiletic interpretation).

According to the aforementioned (Par. 4), one could say that the reason that there must be such an aspect as this in Torat Moshe

(Namely that the revelation of the matters are in a manner that in the beginning they are enclothed in the knowledge and intellect of Moshe Rabbeinu)

is – because this is the “foundation” of the scope of the Oral Torah.

Regarding the Oral Torah we find a contradiction (דבר והיפוכו):

  • On one hand, its revelation

(Besides the aspects that are Halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai (a Halachic tradition that was transmitted orally by G-d to Moshe), and come through tradition (בקבלה))

is through Bnei Yisroel who reveal the aspects of the Oral Torah, through their study of them. in this, the knowledge and intellect of the one studying the Torah, is required.

  • However, on the other hand, the entire purpose of Torah study is to reveal G-d’s Word (דבר ה׳). In other words, the Halacha is dependent (not on the person’s understanding, but rather) that this is G-d’s Will. For the essence of Torah is – G-d’s Wisdom. However, G-d transmitted it to Bnei Yisroel in order that they reveal it through their understanding.

Since all the boundaries of Torah must have a foundation in Torat Moshe, Therefore, this aspect –

namely, that the name “Torah” (Torat HaShem) applies to an aspect of wisdom that is revealed through the knowledge and intellect of the created person –

in Torat Moshe, is in Mishneh Torah.

For even there, there are these two extremes. It is G-d’s Word that is enclothed in the knowledge and intellect of Moshe. And through there being this boundary in Torat Moshe, it is drawn into the entire Oral Torah.

This is also the reason, that in conjunction with the saying of Mishneh Torah – “He explained it to them in seventy languages”:

Just as through the saying of Mishneh Torah, Moshe accomplished that each person’s understanding of Torah (who studies it according to the rules of Torah) becomes a part of Torat HaShem (תורת ה׳)

(And before one studies it, is obligated to bless the blessing of Torah, “who gave us His Torah”)

So too, is it in the aspect of the language in which one studies Torah.

“He explained it to them in seventy languages” in order that the boundary of “Torah” apply even to the language

(That is not the language that G-d “spoke”, but rather a language) of each nation, the languages of people (לשונות בנ״א), as has been explained at length.

6. The aforementioned aspect is especially connected to the Rebbe Rayatz – whose Hilulah occurs on the tenth of the “eleventh month” (on the tenth of Shvat).

One of his innovations, in the aspect of the revelation of Pnimiyut HaTorah,

(Which in the latter generations, was revealed in Torat HaChassidut in general, and specifically in Torat HaChassidut Chabad)

was that he greatly endeavored in the aspect of translating the books and exegeses (Mamarim) of Pnimiyut HaTorah into the seventy languages. This was in order that the wellsprings of Pnimiyut HaTorah reach truly outward (עד לחוצה ממש), even to those who, not only were not conversant in the Holy tongue, but even not in Yiddish.

This was accomplished through his power (נתינת כח ממנו). That even when the aspects of Pnimiyut HaTorah are translated into various languages, they become holy, and they possess the qualities of the hiddenness of Torah (סתים דאורייתא), that awaken the hiddenness of the soul (סתים דנשמתא) and connect the person with the hiddenness of G-d (סתים דקוב״ה) (as is explained in the Zohar).

From this we learn a practical lesson, standing at Rosh Chodesh Shvat

(Where, “Moshe commenced to explain this Law”, in seventy languages was said).

and close to the day of the Hilulah of the Rebbe Rayatz, who endeavored in the translation of the aspects of Pnimiyut HaTorah into the seventy languages -

Moreover, where each and every one of us, must “walk in the straight path that he has shown us of his paths, and we will walk in his ways forevermore (נצח סלה ועד).

And especially in this year (5750) which is the fortieth year of his Histalkus, and where the Torah promised that in the fortieth year, G-d gives to you “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” And like the statement of the Sages that at that time one understands the wisdom of his teacher.

To engage in the dissemination of Torah, in general, and in the dissemination of Pnimiyut HaTorah, in particular, even to those who are found “outside” (בחוצה), even until it is necessary to explain the Torah to them in the seventy languages.

Through “spreading your wellsprings outward” (יפוצו מעינותיך חוצה), “the master, king Moshiach will come” (קאתי מר דא מלכא משיחא) and he will lead us upright to our Land – entering the Land, with the true and complete Geulah, speedily and in our days, mamosh.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Va’eira - Rosh Chodesh Shvat – 5727, 5740



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