Parashas Yisro

This week’s parashah records the revelation at Har Sinai, including the Ten Commandments. The First Commandment begins with the word anochi, meaning I. The Gemara in Shabbos 105a presents three renderings of this word as an acronym. One of them is the following, with the letters of anochi in reverse order (yud, kaf, vav, aleph): “Yehivah k’sivah ne’emanin imrei – [The Torah] has been handed down in writing, for faithful are its words.” We present the Maggid’s explanation of this acronym.
The scope of our holy Torah, notes the Maggid, is boundless: all the world’s wisdom is embedded in it, at least by hint. Hence, in regard to the Torah it is written (Mishlei 4:2): “I have given you good counsel (lekach, literally acquisition).” This is like telling someone: “Go to the treasure house and take whatever strikes your fancy, as much as you can carry.” The Torah is filled with wisdom, solid counsel, and words of delight. Everyone can find within it whatever portion he needs, be it large or small, to satisfy his intellect and inclinations. It offers the same rich array of resources to everyone; different people get different portions only because their capacities differ. Hence, the Torah is called a lekach, an acquisition, for what it supplies each person depends only on the taker (lokeiach); the Giver, for His part, could readily give a thousand times more.
In this vein, Shlomo HaMelech portrays the Torah as declaring (ibid. 8:21): “To those who love me, I have what to bequeath, and I shall fill their storehouses.” A mortal giver has a limited treasury. Eventually the treasury is exhausted, and the giver can give no more, but the receiver’s desire to take is not exhausted. With the Divine Giver, it is just the opposite. He always has what to give, without limit. When someone stops taking, it is because his storehouse is full, and he cannot take any more.
Shlomo declares (Koheles 1:4): “A generation passes and a generation comes, while the world forever endures.” The Midrash remarks (Koheles Rabbah 1:9) that this verse alludes to the Torah. We can explain this remark in line with our discussion above. Generation after generation partakes of the Torah’s insights, while the Torah constantly provides the same enormous wealth of riches – like the earth, which gives forth its grain and fruit every spring, never ceasing. Thus, we say in our morning prayers that Hashem’s words are “living and enduring … forever and unto all eternity.” It is for this reason that the Torah was given in writing – so that its words could bear all its wisdom. Consider, by analogy, a seller with a chest full of goods. If someone comes to buy some of them, the seller will not give the buyer the chest to hold what he bought, for the seller still needs the chest to house the goods he has left. Similarly, the Torah had to be given in an enduring written form, in order to properly contain all the insights it holds for each generation. In Menachos 29b, the Gemara relates how Hashem told Moshe that Rabbi Akiva would derive mounds of laws from the crowns on the Torah’s letters. The written Torah therefore had to include these crowns
The Gemara in Berachos 34b speaks of “wine stored up in grapes from the six days of creation.” Maharsha interprets this Gemara as referring to Torah secrets – the gematria (numerical value) of the word yayin (wine) being identical to that of the word sohd (secret). Just as wine is stored up in grapes, so, too, are the Torah’s secrets stored up in its letters.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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