Sharing Torah Insights

Re’eh- The Words of the Sages

Posted on כ״ו באב ה׳תש״ע (August 6, 2010) | in Re'eh | by

שְׁמֹר וְשָׁמַעְתָּ אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּךָּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לְךָ וּלְבָנֶיךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ עַד־עֹולָם כִּי תַעֲשֶׂה הַטֹּוב וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃ ס

You shall guard and you shall listen to all of these things that I command you so that it shall be good for you and your children after you forever when you do what is good and straight in the eyes of Hashem your God.

There is a lot that can be said on this verse, but let us focus on the part of it.

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh poses a couple questions on the beginning of the verse:

  • Shouldn’t it say “Listen” (to what you have to do) and then “guard” (these things)?! (This is kind of like Naaseh VNishma, except that here Moshe is saying it) It seems out of order.

  • Also, what do the extra words “es kol”, “all” (of these things) teach us? [‘Es’ is a Hebrew word which does not really have a translation in English. In Hebrew serves to introduce the next clause, yet since no word in the Torah is extra, some try to extrapolate meanings from each time the word appears.]

He answers that “Guard” is referring to observing the Biblical Commandments that the Jewish People have heard from Moshe. Guard what you already have. Simple enough. However, “Listen” is referring to all the Rabbinic decrees, the gezaros, and the customs instituted by the Rabbis subsequent [hence the order of the words] to the present time when Moshe is speaking. He is telling the Jewish People that there are many enactments yet to come which the Torah is already telling us to anticipate and observe.

The word ‘es’ is coming to include the Rabbanic dictates. Rav Rosener wryly comments that perhaps this is related to the teaching of Rabbi Akiva that the word “es” in the context of you shall revere es Hashem your G-d. Rabbi Akiva expounds the word ‘es’ to include having reverence for Torah Scholars as well as God (albeit on a lower level obviously). Thus, the Torah in both places is telling us to respect the dictates of the Sages throughout the generations- after the Torah shebichsav has taught.

[The Sages do not add to the Torah, which is forbidden. Rather, they recognize that their dictates which enhance our observance are on a lower level than Biblical dictates]

If we follow the words of the Sages then we merit to pass on the heritage to the next generation …so that it shall be good for you and your children after you forever. If God Forbid, we neglect the words of the Sages, however, we put ourselves at risk of losing our authentic Jewsh identity.

History is a lesson.

Good Shabbos from home.


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