Midrash Rabbah Ekev BOhr 5770 | Book Of Deuteronomy | Moses

LAND AND TABLETS PARASHAT EKEV Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

Rabbi Charles Feinberg Boker Ohr

Reading between the lines of Moses’ words in Parashat Ekev, I believe the reader can sense Moses’ anxiety of what will befall the people without him. He is concerned about the people reverting to the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites (see 7:12-26). Moses is worried that people will not be grateful for all the good that God has done and will do for them (see 8:1-16) or that they will become arrogant and forget God (8:17-20). At the center of the Parasha, Moses uses up a considerable number of words reviewing the incident of the Golden Calf (9:1-10:11). In the last third of the Parasha Moses exhorts the people to fear and love God, to circumcise their hearts, to love the stranger, and to cling to God (10:12-11:1). Moses reminds the people that the present generation do not have any first hand knowledge of the events that occurred in Egypt and in the wilderness, but if they go astray God will punish them (11:2-9). Finally the Parasha concludes with the warning that is the second paragraph of the Shma (11:13-21) and a promise that if the people are faithful God will help them drive out nations that are mightier than they (11:22-25). I ask everyone to read over the Parasha at home or online. The first three Midrashim are commentaries on the opening verse of the Parasha. I have inserted the verse at the beginning or end of the first three Midrashim. Here are some questions about the first three: What Hebrew word in the first sentence is problematic for the rabbis? It is a word that is not usually translated. What is difficult about this word? And how do the rabbis understand it? How does the first Midrash (III:1) understand the Sabbath? In the second Midrash (III:4), how does the parable of the orphan and his guardian illustrate the idea the rabbis are teaching? In the third Midrash (III:7), how can spiritual values such as justice or mercy be considered a gift? The fourth Midrash (III:8) asserts that all the major miracles in the Torah occurred near, with, or by means of water. Why do you think water is a favored vehicle for a miracle in the Torah? The fifth Midrash (III:11) gives an interpretation to why Moses chose to remind the next generation about the golden calf incident. According to the Midrash, what was Moses ostensible and ulterior motives for recalling that painful incident? In the sixth Midrash (III:12), what is the rabbis’ attitude toward Moses breaking the tablets? Do you think Moses was justified in breaking the tablets? Do you think that God was upset that he broke them? What is the lesson of the parable of the middleman? . Midrash Rabbah - Deuteronomy III:1
1. Halacha: Is it permissible for a Jew who possesses a candelabrum fitted together from separate parts to move it about on the Sabbath? The Sages have learnt thus: One who puts together the parts of a candelabrum on the Sabbath renders himself liable for a sin-offering.1 And under what counts is he liable? R. Abbahu said in ) Because he desecrated the Sabbath by building, which is one of the 39 primary types of work forbidden on the Sabbath. (Cf. Shab. 73a.)
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hear) these rules and observe them carefully. After some time she arose and set herself right with him by bringing back the two gems. benevolent: for it is said.Deuteronomy III:4 4. Israel asked God: ‘When will You grant us the reward of the mitzvoth which we observe?’ God replied: ‘As for the mitzvoth which you observe. What is the force of. Hanina said: Israel first observed the Sabbath in the proper manner when it was given to them at Alush. the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant and the mercy that He made an oath on with your fathers. and have compassion upon you (Deut. XX. who brought with her into the house two gems. etc. 5 The Midrash interprets: And He shall give thee the quality of mercy.7 and the king too had two corresponding gems set for her. Hiyya b. the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant and the mercy that He made an oath on with your fathers (7:12). Thereupon the king too restored his. 7 Mishnah. Halafta said: This may be compared to a king who married a noble lady. deriving physical enjoyment from it. So the people rested on the seventh day (Ex. 2 3 2 . hear) these rules and observe them carefully. 30). And call the Sabbath a delight.4 Another explanation: R. R. Cf. Nahmani said: All [the good] that Israel enjoys in this world is a result of the blessings with which Balaam the wicked blessed them. Whence [can this be inferred]? From what we read in our text. was fed and clothed by him. The lady lost her gems. XXXIII. Another explanation: And if you do obey (literally. you eat of their fruits now. and of my clothing. ‘Er. VI:8. that is to say.’ But the man answered him: ‘By your life! your food and clothing are paid for by the service you rendered me in filling a cask of water and in chopping for me one log of wood. as it is said. as it is said. Berachoth.towards others. [Said God to Israel]: ' You might perhaps think that I have given you the Sabbath to your disadvantage (because of all the restrictions). and one who builds on the Sabbath is liable [for a sin-offering]. the Lord your God will guard faithfully [THE COVENANT AND THE MERCY]. R. The orphan said: ‘The man will deduct from my wages the cost of my food.e.the name of R. And He shall give you mercy5. merciful. the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant and the mercy that He made an oath on with your fathers (7:12) Midrash Rabbah . 14).2 Whence this? For it is said. Helbo said: It is like the case of an orphan who was brought up in the house of a certain man. 14b (where the words ‫ וחסרון על כל מה שבראת‬is added. and was taught a trade by him. of my drink. Yohanan: He who puts together a candelabrum is like unto a man who builds on the Sabbath. Simeon b. XIII. 13 f Though you benefit materially by its observance 4 He will keep them in store. the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant? R. the Lord your God will guard faithfully. Another explanation: THAT the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant and the mercy that He made an oath on with your fathers. Abba said: [God said to Israel]: ' You sanctify the Sabbath with food and drink and clean clothes. Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord (ibid. Jose b. A station of the Israelites in the wilderness. Hiyya said: Israel are possessed of the following three fine characteristics: they are bashful (capable of shame).’3 Whence this? [Scripture says]. And that His fear may be before you (Ex. And if you do obey (literally. while I give you reward. after death]. 18). and after this is written. 6 Rendered: He shall keep for you the reward for the mercy (or. etc.’ Likewise all that the people Israel enjoy in this world is a reward for the sufferings which befall them. but the blessings with which the Patriarchs blessed them are reserved for the time to come. He will grant you the desires of your heart. Samuel b. Num.’ How? R. and benevolent.6 Midrash Rabbah . 17).Deuteronomy III:7 7. but their full reward is stored up and reserved for them for the time to come. They are bashful: for it is said. the benevolence) which you display. rather. I have surely given the Sabbath to you only for your own advantage. What is meant by. whereupon the king took away his. merciful: for it is said. your full reward is stored up and reserved for you. but their full reward shall give you in the end’ [i. THE COVENANT AND THE MERCY? R. (Isaiah 58:13). XVI.

And I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness. but the Israelites drank water. (Num. to the end that he may command his children and his household after him. For I have known him. XIII. and the hills be removed. 17).. At the Rock he wrought miracles for them through water. and it parted. He wrought only through water. What did it see? R. says the Lord that has compassion on you (ibid. R. etc. go down hastily from here ' (ibid. to do righteousness and justice (Gen. And speak unto the rock. 1). Hiyya b. And He will give you mercy. That you have turned justice into gall. namely. a number of things will be different. ' He who creates many living beings with their wants. Midrash Rabbah . as it is said. 8 9 The Rabbis therefore instituted a special grace for water 3 . And when Israel came out of Egypt He wrought miracles for them only through water. (Deut. I. So you find that Abraham gave his children two gems [to guard]. ‘Let both pairs be made into a crown and be placed on the head of Israel. loving-kindness and mercy. chapter 3). Israel then arose and set themselves right [with God] and restored the two gems. and have compassion upon you (Deut. and in loving-kindness.’ Midrash Rabbah . as it is said. LIV.Kezef. Whence this? For it is said.’8 The Rabbis say: Come and see how all the miracles which God wrought for Israel He wrought only through water. 25). The waters saw You.. neither shall My covenant of peace be removed. And after Israel have restored theirs and God has given back His. XVIII. and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (Amos VI. O ISRAEL: YOU ARE ABOUT TO CROSS OVER THE JORDAN THIS DAY (IX. and said: Lord God. I8). Halacha: A Jew who drinks water to sate his thirst recites the benediction. and fled (Ps. Israel lost theirs. XV. as it is said. XX. they were in pain (ibid. as it is said. R. Moses said to Israel: When you shall have passed the Jordan.’ R.’ as it is said. Another explanation: HEAR. And I will betroth you unto Me for ever. but My kindness shall not depart from thee. After they came out from the sea they arrived at Marah where the waters were bitter. ' Blessed be He by whose word all things exist. Nehemiah said: It saw.. At the Well He wrought miracles for them and they sang a song. etc. Zion shall be redeemed with justice. R. LXXVII. The sea saw it. XVI. Nehorai said: It saw the Tetragrammaton engraved upon [Moses’] staff and it parted. 27).. 1). 10). and in compassion.The king decreed that a crown should be made of both sets of gems and that it should be placed on the head of the noble lady. God thereupon took away His.Deuteronomy III:8 8.’ He further said unto them: ‘Did I not plead in your defense when you did that [unspeakable] act’ and God desired to destroy you?’ Whence this? For it is said. God too restored His.9 How? While they were still in Egypt He wrought miracles for them through the river. Isaac said: The Egyptians and the Israelites went to drink water from the river. IX. five angels of destruction overheard this and they sought to harm him. even mercy and compassion (Jer. Whence this? For it is said. For I have taken away My peace from this people. And the Lord showed him a tree. God will say. God's hand. 3). Moses said to Israel: ‘Know that all the miracles which God wrought for you. and also when you pass over the Jordan to take possession of the land God will also work miracles for you through the waters of the Jordan. 26). 8). HEAR. and He wrought for them miracles. Whence this? For it is said. Whence this? For so it is written. Whence do we know this? For so it is written. O ISRAEL: YOU ARE ABOUT TO CROSS OVER THE JORDAN THIS DAY (IX. 5). as it is said. the Egyptians drank blood.Deuteronomy III:11 11. XXI. And I prayed unto the Lord. 12). do not think that it will be just like when you were in the wilderness where I prayed for you whenever you sinned. Abba said: When God said to Moses in heaven: ’Arise. (Joshua. and you shall know the Lord (Hosea II. 21). God too set up corresponding to them two gems. says the Lord. These are they: Af. For the mountains may depart. 19). destroy not Your people. the Lord your God will guard faithfully for you the covenant and the mercy that He made an oath on with your fathers and it further says. and they that return of her with righteousness (Isa. etc. 17). Then sang Israel (Num. Tarfon says: He recites. as it is said. I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness and in justice. CXIV. 12). if one may say so. Hemah. yea. (Ex.

" but I am the Lord Your (singular) God (Ex. To God [the Holy Spirit] said: ' Say not: I will do so to him as he has done to me (Proverbs 24:29). Arise. The Holy One.’ as it is said. "neighbor") without cause.’ R. as soon as he came nigh unto the camp. Ex. destroy not Your people and Your inheritance’ (Deut.10 When.’ Whence this? For it is said.’ and he gave them the opportunity to pray for him. Whence this? For it is said. Hiyya b.’ She then said to them: ‘Know what she will do to you.? R. ’ And deceive not ‘: [this refers also to Israel] of whom it is written. As they did not understand. and Israel Your servants (Ex. XLIII. destroy not Your people and Your inheritance. ’ O Lord God. Whereupon Moses exclaimed before God: ' Master of the universe. (Ps. The Rabbis say: From this expression Moses seized a hint how to find some defense for Israel. Abba said: Moses left no corner in heaven upon which he did not prostrate himself in prayer. thereupon said to Moses: ‘You would not believe Me that they had made a Calf unto themselves. `wrath’)) lest He should destroy them (Psalm. but "O Lord God. when they came to pass over the Jordan. because he thought that they would pray on his behalf that he should enter the land with them. blessed be He. Abba said: When the defender [Moses] had finished. And it came to pass. Kezef.’ She replied: ‘Yes.. but he did not break them until he saw with his own eyes what they had done. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them (ibid. Had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breach. At that moment Moses’ anger waxed hot. Af and Hemah.’ ‘Wrath. Although you declared at Sinai. to turn back His wrath (Hamatho from hemah. however. ’Be not a witness against your companion without cause’: this refers to Israel who are called ‘Companions of God’. R.).’ ‘Fury. that he saw the Calf (Ex. have I then transgressed any one of them? They have received no commands and therefore they did not know. against Your Af (Psalm.). 1).’ yet you did not fulfill this.12 And what did he say? What can the closed mouth say?13 Another explanation: ’ O Lord God.24: 28). 12 I. XXXII. 8). I made mention of the three [Patriarchs] and three [angels] have fled: rise up. IX. and deceive not with your lips’ (Proverbs. XX." but You (singular) shall have no other gods’ (ibid.’ and ‘Devourer’ Cf. I have received commands. He said to her: ' Know that I am going to marry another wife. and Mekaleh fled and only the two fiercer ones. O ISRAEL: YOU ARE ABOUT TO CROSS OVER THE JORDAN THIS DAY (IX. He said before God: ‘Master of the universe. ‘O Lord God. he used every conceivable argument (‘ E. And whence do we know that Moses rose up against Hemah? For it is said. What is the force of HEAR. XXXII. but they did not understand. Moses came down from heaven with the Tables in his hand. and Mekaleh. ’ We will do. but will you not tell me whom it is that you intend to marry. Hiyya b. Mashhith. as it is said. Tanhumah said: Moses prostrated himself before Israel and said to them: ‘You are to pass over.122:8). The present reading may be retained rendering: What can a mouth even gifted with understanding say further? 10 11 4 . 3). have they not been commanded? ' He replied: ‘No. Moses made mention of the merits of the three Patriarchs. the Holy Spirit pleaded on their behalf and spoke thus to Israel: ' Be not a witness against your companion (E. 19).106: 23). " I am the Lord your (plural)God. Remember Abraham. 5. R. but they did not grasp it. also. " You (plural) shall have no other gods. as it is written. Hence. the singular form implies that the commands were spoken to Moses only. But they deceived Him with their mouth (Psalm 78:36). VII. were left.’ God thereupon exclaimed: ' Moses. For my brethren and companions’ sake. she said: ‘I will command you only for your own sake. 26). Moses reminded them of every plea that he had made on their behalf.’ Hence the proof that God rose up against Af.’ She thought that perhaps they would understand what she meant and would intercede with their father on her behalf.’ Therefore. This can be compared to a king who had many children by a noble lady.J. 13 Moses felt himself incapable of further prayer. O Lord. etc. What did You declare at Sinai?11 ‘Did You not say. but not I. could you bear being subjected to her?’ They replied: ‘Yes. Did You not say. Isaac. and obey. destroy not Your people and Your inheritance". 13). 7).e.V.’ He replied: ‘So-and-so. The lady was undutiful to him and he resolved to dismiss her.’ Lit. 2).’ ‘Destroyer. against Af. ‘Anger.’ What did the noble lady do? She summoned her children and said to them: ‘Know that your father intends to divorce me and to marry So-and-so.Mashhith. and he cast the tables out of his hands (ibid. be mindful of the honor of your father.

’ Whence do we know this? For it is said. your children. And I will plant them upon their land. AT THAT TIME THE LORD SAID UNTO ME: CARVE OUT TWO TABLETS OF STONE LIKE THE FIRST. and now you have broken them. and come up in the morning unto the Mount Sinai. A considerable interval might elapse between the two. taking home the bride. And this we learn from God from His betrothal of Israel at Sinai. Whereupon God said to him: ' When you arranged [the Tablets] for Israel I gave you as your reward a shining face. 29). Moses said to Israel.11:29). and you must replace them. to the end that you may long endure. technical sense of writing the ‫ קדושין‬betrothal document. as it is written. And Moses wrote this law (Deut. as long as you live. be mindful of the honor of your Father in heaven. ’And it shall come to pass. What was the first time at which his face sent forth beams? 5 . ’sanctify’. and the bridegroom pays the fee.V.) refer?16 Resh Lakish said: When Moses wrote the law he acquired a lustrous appearance. O ISRAEL: YOU ARE ABOUT TO CROSS OVER THE JORDAN THIS DAY (IX.6:2). and was written upon with black fire and sealed with fire and was swathed with bands of fire. and whilst he was writing it he dried his pen on his hair. XXXIV. all His laws and commandments that I enjoin upon you. And no man shall come up with you. Yet cohabitation was forbidden until Nesu'in or ' Marriage ‘. Nowadays they are combined. E. and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land (Amos IX. Halacha: When a Jew betroths a woman. and as a result he acquired a lustrous appearance. neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount (Exodus 34: 1 ff).’ R. (Numbers 27:18). who has to pay for the writing of the document of betrothal? Our Rabbis have learnt thus: Documents of betrothal and marriage14 are written only with the consent of the two parties. whilst the Tablets were being passed to him from [God's] hands to his own hands he acquired a lustrous appearance. As they did not understand. R. When Israel did that deed of shame [the Golden Calf] he took hold of the Tablets and broke them. he said: ‘I will command you only for your own sakes. which you did break. 1). And the Lord said unto Moses: Carve out two tablets of stone like the first. etc. as it is written. and your children’s children might fear the Lord your God and follow. Samuel b. you broke the Tablets. 1). i. 15 The Midrash takes the M. And the Lord said unto Moses: Go unto the people and betroth15 them to-day and to-morrow (Exodus 19:10). God said: ' In this world all yearn for Eretz Israel. I will plant you therein to flourish as an undisturbed plant. But in the time to come. and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mount. God said to Moses: ' You were the intermediary between Me and My children.T ‫ וקדשתם‬in the later. AND MAKE AN ARK OF WOOD (X. (ibid. in so far as the woman would henceforth not be free to marry another unless she were divorced. when you will be free from sin and iniquity. and I will write upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets. Midrash Rabbah . HEAR. XXXI. Isaac said: Our Rabbis have learnt: When a cask is broken [before delivery to the buyer] it is the middleman who bears the loss. AND COME UP TO ME ON THE MOUNTAIN. And what reward did God give him? A lustrous countenance.Deuteronomy III:12 12. 16 God spoke many times to Moses. For you shall not go over this Jordan’ (Deuteronomy 3:27).[1] Erusin or ‘Betrothal’. 15). How [did this come about]? Resh Lakish said: The scroll that was given to Moses was made of a parchment of white fire. and because of your sin you have been exiled from it. neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount. And be ready by the morning. Nahman said: Moses acquired a lustrous appearance from the Tablets. Whence do we know this? For it is said. [He thought] that perhaps Israel would understand. 14 ) In former times marriage was divided into two stages. To what time does While He talked with him (ibid. 9).So it was with Moses.e. When God said to him: 'Take Joshua the son of Nun. not I. when the Lord your God shall bring you into the land which you will possess it’ (ibid.’ Whence this? For so it is written. This was a proper marriage. And who wrote this document? Moses.’ Whence this? For it is said. he stressed [the words]. That you. That Moses knew not that the skin of his face sent forth beams (Ex.

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