שביבי אש
סמיכות סיום התורה לתחילתה

וּלְכֹל הַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וּלְכֹל הַמּוֹרָא הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

And in all the mighty hand, and in all the great terror, which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.

In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. (Deuteronomy 34:12) – (Genesis 1:1)

Among all the evidence that wise men have found to prove that the Torah that Moshe gave to the Children of Israel was the Torah of the living G-d and to cut off thereby the arms of the unbelievers who say that Moshe in his great wisdom prepared it and composed it, this one shines as bright as the dawn. If we study the laws and principles of each state, we will find that the laws and statutes that the rulers expound correspond to the beliefs and opinions of the inhabitants of those states. Every nation enacts laws and statutes that correspond to its opinions and general understanding. And only from a people who themselves strive for a vibrant attitude and seek to advance forward in step with enlightened understanding can a ruler emerge who will, based on his lofty status and exalted understanding, reform their laws and make them more just. Rulers and leaders only can lead their peoples to a place towards which the spirit of the people wishes to go.

Consider a wise and understanding nation, like the people of France, who are just in their hearts and who strive for the spirit of knowledge and wisdom. Their freedom has given them just and liberal laws under which they proceed methodically without disturbance. Their ways are ways of pleasantness and their paths are of peace. But consider an insolent and foolish nation, like the Russians, who dwell in the valley darkness. Who could lead them in orbits of righteousness and under laws of freedom? For they are insurgents against light and they will always stumble and upset everything. They will live under laws that are appropriate to them and to their status and opinions.

This was not how Moshe led our ancestors. For he did not provide them with a legacy (מורשה) that was commensurate with their spiritual level at that time, which was not a generation of enlightenment in belief and understanding. Before the midwife could come to them (בטרם תבא אליהם המילדת), they had given birth to laws and statutes that were exceedingly lofty and sublime. Were our ancestors not like grapes in the desert or unripe figs in the summer? In the early times, they went in darkness and worshiped mountains and brought human sacrifices. It was a time when Jacob was small and very weak when they left Egypt, where they had worshiped idols and devoted themselves to every abomination. If so, how could anyone say that this degenerate and degraded people could have called to life these upright laws - which were as far from them as east from west? As heaven is higher than the earth, so were the ways of the Torah above their ways, deeper than the deep and wider than any ocean. So how could it have occurred to Moshe when he took them out of Egypt to give this lofty and exalted Torah to a foolish and ignoble nation, a generation crooked and perverse who knew nothing but to serve Egypt by making bricks and mortar?

Is this not a sure sign and testimony that G-d sent him and that the two tablets were made by G-d and the words were written by G-d? Was it not for Torah that He established boundaries on the land and upon it that he founded the entire world? And did He not willingly chose His people Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation? But He did not give Israel His laws and statutes because Israel was already prepared for them, and had already risen from below and dwelled on high and were worthy of that reward. On the contrary, G-d sent His holy word to correct the ways of His people and to purify them like pure silver to be His chosen people forever more.

It was upon this idea that the Midrash (Midrash Rabbah 99) based its interpretation of the verse (Psalms 68:17) "Why look ye askance, ye mountains of peaks, At the mountain which G-d hath desired for His abode? Yea, the Lord will dwell therein forever" (לָמָּה, תְּרַצְּדוּןהָרִים גַּבְנֻנִּים הָהָר חָמַד אֱלֹהִים לְשִׁבְתּוֹ אַף יְהוָה יִשְׁכֹּן לָנֶצַח). According to the Midrash, Mount Tavor and Mount Carmel were disputing between themselves, each one saying "the Torah should be given upon me." Therefore G-d said to them "you are defective (גִבֵּן אוֹ דַק)( Leviticus 21:20). The mountain that G-d desires for His abode is Mount Sinai." The Midrash was suggesting that Mount Tavor and Mount Carmel, by saying that G-d should give the Torah upon them, meant that the Children of Israel were on too low a moral and spiritual level to be worthy of receiving such enlightened laws. They were arguing that, before giving the Torah to Israel, G-d should wait until they had gradually elevated themselves morally and spiritually until they had reached the loftiest spiritual heights. But G-d responded to them with a higher wisdom -- with the just words "גִבֵּן אוֹ דַק" (a dwarf or crookback). By this G-d meant to say that the high-minded idea that He should wait till the Children of Israel had raised themselves up to be worthy of the Torah before giving it to them would never be realized because on their own they would never reach that spiritual level at which the laws and statutes of the Torah would be appropriate for them. Rather, the mountain that G-d desired for His abode was Sinai, that is to say G-d desired Israel even when they were at a lowly moral and spiritual level. He therefore brought the Torah down to Mount Sinai to match the low level of the Children of Israel, wanting His holy Torah would raise them up and elevate their existence. And these statutes are of ancient days created before there were mountains, and for their sake G-d created the earth and its fullness, the entire world and its inhabitants.

The breaking of the tablets give testimony and proof that the Children of Israel were unworthy of this Torah. For it is evident that while the King and His party were occupying Sinai and He was giving His commandments to His servant Moshe, the Children of Israel made the calf and bowed down to an idol. So when Moshe came down from the mountain he cast the tablets from his hands, saying "all Israel are apostates, how can I give them this Torah?" It is clear that they were not worthy of the Torah. And yet it was still given to them.

This is what was meant by "and in all the mighty hand . . . which Moshe wrought in the sight of Israel" (וּלְכֹל הַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וּלְכֹל הַמּוֹרָא הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל). He received the Torah and the tablets and then quickly thereafter he smashed them "לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל". This shows that "בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים" - for the Torah, which is called "רֵאשִׁית" G-d created the heaven and the earth. In other words, the Torah was given before man became worthy of it, and it is by means of the Torah that man slowly raises himself up. "For the land was unformed and void" (תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ). While mankind were still dwelling in spiritual darkness, G-d said, " יְהִי אוֹר". G-d made the light of the Torah shine for them. "For the commandment is a lamp and Torah is a light" (כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה, וְתוֹרָה אוֹר).

לְכָל הָאֹתֹת וְהַמּוֹפְתִים אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ יְהוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לְפַרְעֹה וּלְכָל עֲבָדָיו וּלְכָל אַרְצוֹ

וּלְכֹל הַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וּלְכֹל הַמּוֹרָא הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

In all the signs and the wonders, which the L-RD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land.

And in all the mighty hand, and in all the great terror, which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.

In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. (Deuteronomy 34:11 - 12) – (Genesis 1:1)

Above we wrote how our master joined together, as if by well-fastened nails, the end of the Torah to its beginning. And he lifted his hand a second time to unite the structure to be a single entity. The Rambam writes (פ"ח מהל' יסודי התורה הלכה א) that the children of Israel did not believe in Moshe because of the signs and wonders that he performed their eyes, for, inasmuch as such signs could have been performed by means of secret arts, magic, and sorcery, anyone who believes in signs is misguided. All the signs that Moshe performed were required not to confirm the prophecy of Moshe but because of external necessity. And they believed in Moshe only because they stood at Mount Sinai and saw with their own eyes the glory of the Eternal and heard with their own ears His words from the midst of the fire.

Now in Bereishit the Ramban writes that the reason the Torah begins with the words "In the beginning, G-d created the heaven and the earth," is to teach us that anyone who does not believe that the G-d of the Universe is the Creator of the mountains and the winds, but says that the universe came first denies the most basic tenet of faith and denies the Torah. Now one may ask that although we did indeed see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears that the Eternal gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, how can we know nevertheless with an irrefutable sign that He created the world and conducts it. For there is no way for us to know that He is the Creator except by seeing a miracle or sign that displaces nature inasmuch as only the One Who has the capacity to control nature and reverse the laws of creation could, as the philosophers and scientists have written, have the capacity to create the world, so that only that Being could be its Creator.

However, when G-d descended on Mount Sinai enveloped in His Glory and Majesty, and we heard His voice from the midst of the fire, and every individual attained the paths of life and knowledge of G-d, they then also understood that the Eternal is the G-d of the universe and that His hand reaches the heaven. For the souls of all Israel together as one were exalted up on high and they recognized at that moment the living G-d and their eyes saw the glory of the splendor of His greatness.

Now the signs and wonders that Moshe performed before Pharaoh and his servants were performed only to show them that there is a G-d that judges them in response to Pharaoh's question (Exodus 5:2): "Who is the L-rd that I should hearken to His voice." And this is the meaning of the verse: "for all the signs and wonders which the L-rd sent him to perform in the land of Egypt." These were performed only for Pharaoh and his servants and his people - that they should know that there is none like the L-rd our G-d and that the land and its fullness belong to the L-rd - but not for the children of Israel. The verse "and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moshe wrought in the sight of all Israel" refers not to the signs and wonders in Egypt but instead to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai where they saw the G-d of Israel revealed to them in all His glory and splendor and they all heard His voice from the midst of the fire from which they understood with perfect clarity that "in the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth." At that moment they knew well and understood that the Eternal is the Creator of the heaven and the earth. And what need had they for signs or wonders?