What is Talmud?

Talmud: Truth reserved from the World?


The Beis HaLevi explains: yet another medrash tells us that Moshe  learned all of Torah in its complete entirety, even that which a student will ask of his rebbe in the future. Upon asking Hashem if that too should be written down, he was told, “No, because I know that in the future other nations will rule over the Jewish people and will take their Torah. Just the written Torah you may write down, but the Oral Torah you must transmit orally so that the nations will not be able to have it when they rule over the Jewish people.”

This medrash indicates that the reason part of the Torah needed to be transmitted orally was so that the other nations would not have it medrash.  …Hashem has a covenant with the Jewish people, meaning it is solely the Oral Torah which belongs only to us.

…When Moshe was to bring about the second set of luchos, Hashem said to him:“Carve for yourself two stone tablets like the first ones, and I shall inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you shattered.”

…With the giving of the second luchos which demanded an oral transmission of part of the Torah, the Jewish nation was given something extra special which would not have been had we been able to keep the first set of luchos. Regarding the first luchos, which had everything there in writing, the Jews were to be nothing more than the ones who kept and safeguarded the Torah, like the ark that holds the Sefer Torah, or a vase which holds flowers. With the giving of the second set of luchos and its oral transmission a Jew himself becomes the “parchment” on which the Oral Torah is “written” (like the verse in Proverbs 7:3, “Inscribe them [Hashem’s commandments and Torah] on the tablet of your heart.”). He becomes holy as the Sefer Torah itself, for just as the Sefer Torah gets its holiness from the written Torah within, so too, he is the Sefer Torah of the Oral Torah and has its holiness to him. That is the meaning of the famous statement of the Zohar that the Jewish nation and the Torah are one.

However, not everyone can reach the high level of absorbing all of the Oral Torah as it was inscribed fully on the first set of luchos; rather, each individual according to how much of it he learns and accomplishes. Only Moshe reached that level to work on and understand all that was to be understood, thereby even his physical body had the maximum holiness – like a real Sefer Torah. In the same way that on the first set of luchos, even the Oral Torah was written, so too, by the giving of the second set the Oral Torah was also written, but this time on Moshe ’s forehead. That is the explanation of the medrashim: after Hashem acquiesced to Moshe’s prayers to forgive the Jewish people and give them a new set of luchos, Moshe had prepared enough ink to write down all of Torah (both Oral and Written) on the new set of luchos (as was found on the pervious set). Yet, Hashem told him not to use the ink that was set aside to write the Oral Torah. It was not to be written so as not to fall into gentile hands in the future. Rather, the Oral Torah was to be just that, oral – transmitted orally from rebbe to talmid beginning with Moshe , the teacher of all Jews.

Thereby Moshe  became the living Sefer Torah of the Oral Torah. Just as we find that our Rabbis teach us that the luchos themselves shined – so too Moshe, being the “luchos of the Oral Torah” shined. This is what is represented by Moshe’s “wiping the remainder of the ink on this forehead.” That ink was the ink of the Oral Torah which was left over. Hashem had decided that it was not to be placed on the actual luchos, but rather on Moshe. The verse implies that it was simply because of the conversation between Moshe and Hashem that led to Moshe’s radiance and not that he “became the Sefer Torah of the Oral Torah.” Yet, now we can clarify that the verse isn’t telling us the exact source of the radiance, but rather, the context by which it came. It was in the conversation with Hashem that He explained to Moshe that the holiness of the Oral Torah wasn’t to be placed on the luchos, rather on him; the true source of the radiance was from the extra bit of ink.

…Because of this difference one might come to think that Moshe’s reward in the World to Come should truly be of less quality and quantity than that of other tzaddikim throughout the generations. …Also, the breaking of the first luchos meant that the Jewish people would now be subjected to harsh gentile rule throughout history. This, too, would be a deterrent and create major setbacks in the abilities and opportunities for the Jews to learn Torah. Because of these issues, one who learned despite these impediments would surely have a great portion of reward in the World to Come, for according to the difficulties so will be the level of reward (like the famous dictum “No pain no gain,” yet in the positive). Therefore, that which the righteous will merit greatly in the World to Come comes as no surprise.

aNNa’S NoTe:  I really hacked this up, to save space and try to condense. But the basic idea is this:  Moses dropped the original tablets because they were SO heavy, containing both the oral (Talmud) and written (Torah) Torah.  When Moses went back up, the Lord (because of the sin of the golden calf), decided to make it so that they only had the written Torah preserved, and that the oral Torah would be, well… oral.  So that they had to truly seek after it, but also so that the nations that would oppress them (as punishment for the calf) wouldn’t ever have access to them.  What do you think of this idea?

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