The Living Torah
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Parsha Encounters – Ki Sissah
The Living Torah
Rabbi Moshe M. Rokach
“And Hashem said to Moshe carve for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones…..” (Shemos 34:1)
After accepting Moshe’s tefillos, G-d agrees to restore His relationship with Klal Yisrael by replacing the luchos. Interestingly, while the first luchos were formed by G-d Himself, G-d now instructs Moshe to fashion the tablets of the second luchos. We can question why G-d delegated the task of supplying and carving the stones of the second luchos to Moshe instead of forming them Himself, as He had done initially. (see Rashi)
There is an insight in the Drashos of the BaisHalevi (Drasha 18) which can be applied to answer this question. The BaisHalevi explains that the second luchos marked a significant shift in the method of studying and transmitting the Torah. On the basis of Midrashim he shows that the first luchos, miraculously, encompassed the full breadth of the entire Torah including Mishna, Talmud, and Aggada. At this point there was no Oral Torah. With regard to the second luchos, however, the Midrash says that G-d denied Moshe’s request that all of Torah once again be recorded on the luchos. As a consequence of the sin of the golden calf Klal Yisrael would, inevitably, be subject to exile among the nations, posing the danger of Torah falling into their hands. In order to ensure that Torah remains the unique treasure of the Jewish People, only the Written Torah was recorded, while the Oral Torah was instead committed to memory and transmitted orally from teacher to student.
On one hand, the introduction of the Oral Torah posed a new danger to Klal Yisrael because it gave rise to the possibility of laws being forgotten and disagreements erupting. At the same time, however, it also brought about a positive transformation in Klal Yisrael’s relationship to the Torah. The BaisHalevi explains that with the first luchos Klal Yisrael would have been comparable to an aronkodesh. They would have merely studied and “housed” the Torah which was fully recorded on the luchos and existed independently of them. While an aron certainly becomes sanctified through housing the Torah, its sanctity is only of a secondary nature. Subsequently, after receiving the second luchos, Klal Yisrael became elevated to the level of klaf, the very parchment of the sefertorah itself. Now that the Oral Torah couldn’t be recorded, Torah no longer existed as a separate entity. Every individual was required to internalize and preserve the words of Torah within himself, thereby transforming himself into a living sefertorah.
This thought is also implicit in the halacha that the Gemara Berachos (8b) deduces by drawing a parallel between a Torah scholar and the luchos. The Gemara says that just as the first luchos, although broken, were stored in the Aron in the Holy of Holies, likewise, proper respect must be accorded to a Torah scholar even if difficult circumstances have caused him to forget the Torah. Clearly, studying Torah is not merely an intellectual exercise of amassing information. Through limudhatorah the individual is imbued with the kedushashatorah which has a lasting effect even after the knowledge he acquired is long forgotten.
On the basis of this insight we can understand the significance of G-d instructing Moshe to supply and carve the stones of the second luchos. By supplying the material for the luchos Moshe demonstrated that Klal Yisrael was being charged with a new mission – to serve as the sefertorah for the preservation of the Oral Torah. Accomplishing this goal, however, demands a necessary prerequisite. In order to internalize the Torah, one must refine his character and mold his personality to prepare a befitting “klaf ” for the Torah he studies. Moshe’s carving the stones of the luchos signifies the human effort toward self improvement that is essential to enable the words of Torah to become inscribed on the hearts and minds of Klal Yisrael.
Rabbi Rokach learns with the Kollel daily.
If one has before him two or more food items which he wishes to partake of, all of which require the same brocha, one of the items should be selected over which to recite the brocha and exempt all the others. The following criteria should be used to determine which item the brocha should be recited over.
If you are eating a portion of spaghetti and a portion of cooked rice, the brocha “borei minei mezonos” should be recited over the spaghetti since it is made from wheat, one of the seven species.
Similarly, if you are eating a portion of spaghetti and a bowl of cooked barley, borei minei mezonos should be recited over the spaghetti since wheat precedes barley on the list of the seven species.
If you are eating puffed wheat (for which the brocha is “borei pri hoadama”) and vegetable salad, borei pri hoadama should be recited over the puffed wheat.
If you are eating dates, figs and cherries, recite “borei pri hoeitz” over the dates.
In all of the above cases your personal taste preference is not a factor, nor is the status of the food items, whether whole or cut.
If you are eating an apple, a pear, and a peach, recite the brocha over the one which is whole. If two or more of them are whole recite the brocha over the whole one you generally enjoy best. If you generally have no preference, recite the brocha over the one you are most interested in eating at the time.
If you are eating two containers of yogurt, each a different flavor, recite “shehakol n’hiyeh bidvaro” over the one you enjoy more.
NOTE: Whenever reciting a brocha rishona it is proper to have specific intent for the brocha to cover all foods before you which require that particular brocha. Even better is to have intent that the brocha should cover any food which requires that brocha – whether before you currently or not – which you will eat, until you recite a brocha achrona. If you did not have any of this in mind, as long as you recited the brocha over the correct item (as per the rules above) all other items before you on the table which require that brocha are automatically included. Items which were not before you at the time will sometimes require a separate brocha. If you recited the brocha over the “wrong” item (i.e. you did not follow the above rules) even items before you at the time will in some instances not be exempted by your original brocha. It is not practical to explain all the pertinent details within this short article. One can avoid uncertainty by remembering to specifically include all other foods of that brocha with each brocha rishona he recites.
Foods of Different Brochos
If one is eating two or more food items which require different brochos (outside of a bread meal), he should recite brochos over the food in the following order:
Even if the food with the “higher” brocha is not from the seven species (e.g. cooked rice which required borei minei mezonos) and the food with the “lower” brocha is (e.g. grapes which require borei pri hoeitz), the higher brocha should be recited first. Furthermore, even if the food with the higher brocha is not whole or not your preference while the food with the lower brocha does possess one of those qualities, the higher brocha still has precedence. In short, the criteria used to determine which food to recite the brocha over when reciting one brocha over two or more foods, are not relevant in determining which brocha to recite first when reciting more than one brocha.
An important exception to this is the following. Although we have learned that borei pri hoeitz is a higher brocha than borei pri hoadama, the distance between these two brochos is not as significant as the distance between any other two brochos. Consequently, borei pri hoeitz will not always precede borei pri hoadma. The criteria used above when dealing with two foods of the same brocha will, in certain cases, be relevant here, as follows. When you have before you a borei pri hoeitz item and a borei pri hoadama item, if the hoadama item is something you generally prefer over this hoeitz item, and now as well you are more interested in the hoadama item, a brocha should be recited over the hoadama item first. This halacha is true even if the hoeitz item is from the seven species and the hoadama item is not. If, however, both items are equal in your eyes from a taste perspective, but the hoadama item is from the seven species (e.g. puffed wheat) and the haeitz item is later on the list of the seven species or not on the list at all, here, too, one should recite the hoadama first. (You will note that although the taste preference factor and the seven species factor are relevant here, they rank in different order than when dealing with two foods of the same brocha.) With regard to any other two brochos (e.g. mezonos and hoeitz, hoadama and shehakol, etc.) neither your personal preferance nor the inclusion or exclusion of the item from the seven species is relevant. Rather, the higher brocha should always be recited before the lower brocha.
Parsha Encounters is coordinated by Rabbi Yisroel Langer. For questions, comments or to subscribe, please email firstname.lastname@example.org