The Shabbos Table – Yisro: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Spectators or Players?

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam) and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

-The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.







Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)








“Spectators or Players?”




Based on:

“Ilu Kirvanu Lifnei Har Sinai – Had He Brought Us to Mount Sinai” (Haggaddah Chazon L’Yomim – Dayeinu, Page 218-220)

Parsha Shiur – Parshas Yisro: Taryag Mitzvos Kelulos B’Aseres HaDibros



Har Sinai Without Torah… Dayeinu?


On Leil HaSeder, in the famous Piyut of Dayeinu, we recite the following: “Ilu Kirvanu Lifnei Har Sinai V’Lo Nasan Lanu Es HaTorah, Dayeinu,” that had HaKadosh Baruch Hu simply brought us to Har Sinai but had not given us the Torah, Dayeinu, it would nonetheless have been sufficient for us. Many M’forshim have noted that the very notion is perplexing, because after all, what would have been the entire purpose of bringing us to Har Sinai if not for Kabbalas HaTorah?


Had He Himself Not Given Us the Aseres HaDibros


The Rashbam writes that, no doubt, the Haggadah is not coming to suggest that we would be sufficient without Kabbalas HaTorah. When the Ba’al Haggadah writes “V’Lo Nasan Lanu Es HaTorah,” it does not refer to the entirety of Kabbalas HaTorah, but it refers specifically to Hashem’s communication of the Aseres HaDibros.

In other words, of course, the whole purpose of Ma’amad Har Sinai was Kabbalas HaTorah. But, did Ma’amad Har Sinai require that Hashem Himself declare the Aseres HaDibros to us? The Rashbam writes that this is what the Ba’al Haggadah meant, “Ilu Kirvanu Lifnei Har Sinai V’Lo Nasan Lanu Es HaTorah, Dayeinu,” that had HaKadosh Baruch Hu brought us to Har Sinai and only communicated the Aseres HaDibros indirectly through the agency of Moshe Rabbeinu alone, that too would have been sufficient.


Aseres HaDibros & the Entirety of Torah Within them


The suggestion of the Rashbam that Ba’al Haggadah’s usage of the word “Torah” is a reference to the Aseres HaDibros is not surprising, but the fact that the Aseres HaDibros represent the entirety of “Torah” is supported by many Mekoros in Chazal.


10 Categories – R’ Sa’adiyah Ga’on


R’ Sa’adiyah Ga’on writes explicitly that that is what the Aseres HaDibros are, a capsule of the Taryag Mitzvos (See Rashi to Shemos 24:12). In his Peirush (commentary) on the Torah, R’ Sa’adiyah Ga’on specifies, “SheHi Klal Taryag HaMitzvos” (that it includes the 613 Mitzvos), and in his Siddur, he composed a Piyut that divides each of the Taryag Mitzvos into ten categories, namely the Aseres HaDibros.


613 Letters – Midrash Rabbah


Moreover, the Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar Rabbah 13) points out that if one were to count all of the letters of the Aseres HaDibros, one would find Taryag Osios (613 letters)! That would seem to mean that not only does each Mitzvah fall under one of the ten categories of the Aseres HaDibros, but even every letter of the Aseres HaDibros corresponds to one of the Taryag Mitzvos.


Moshe’s Kal VaChomer – Yerushalmi, Ta’anis


Another support can be found in the Yerushalmi in Maseches Ta’anis (4:5) where the Gemara describes Moshe Rabbeinu’s smashing of the Luchos after witnessing the Cheit HaEigel. How did Moshe Rabbeinu know that that was an appropriate response?

The Yerushalmi writes that “Darash Moshe Kal VaChomer” (“Moshe expounded a fortiori argument,” lit., lenient and stringent):

The Mitzvah of Korban Pesach is a single Mitzvah, and yet the Torah indicates that one who is Oveid Avodas Zarah may not partake of it, then certainly, how much more so are they disqualified from receiving the Luchos which represent the entirety of Torah.


The King’s Torah Amulet – Da’as Zikeinim


Finally, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (21B) describes the additional Sefer Torah which a Melech must write for himself to be remain with him wherever he goes (Devarim 17:20).

The Drashos HaRan points out that this extra Sefer Torah is among the crucial checks and balances that a king must have, as a king, unlike a Shofeit (judge), has the elastic authority to take the law into his own hands and administer Makkin B’Onshim SheLo Min HaDin, to punish a person at his whim. The Melech must always have this Sefer Torah with him so that he does not abuse his authority and arbitrarily mete out punishment, but he must act in accordance with the Derech HaTorah.

The Gemara is very literal, that the king must literally have this Sefer Torah with him always, that the king must make the Torah into an amulet which us affixed to his arm. How could he possibly compose a Sefer HaTorah upon his arm? The Ba’alei Tosafos write in Da’as Zikeinim that this amulet contained the Aseres HaDibros which represent the totality of the Toras Hashem.


Spectators & Not Players


From the words of the Rashbam, we can understand another advantage highlighted by Ba’al Haggadah, what we gained from our presence at Har Sinai.

Indeed, we could have received the Torah even without being present at Har Sinai. In fact, that was the original plan. This is what HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Moshe in Parshas Yisro.

Initially, Hashem told Moshe, “בַּֽעֲב֞וּר יִשְׁמַ֤ע הָעָם֙ בְּדַבְּרִ֣י עִמָּ֔ךְ” (“In order that the nation will hear when I speak with you” – Shemos 19:9). In other words, when Hashem talks to Moshe, the people would hear. The B’nei Yisrael would be spectators, bystanders of Kabbalas HaTora. They would eavesdrop on the conversation between Hashem’s and Moshe Rabbeinu, only to receive the Torah from him afterwards. But then, something changed. In the same Pasuk, the Torah writes “וַיַּגֵּ֥ד משֶׁ֛ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל ה׳” (“And Moshe told the words of the people to Hashem”).

What did Moshe report back to Hashem? What were the words of the people? Rashi explains (citing Mechilta) that the B’nei Yisrael were not happy with the plan. “Ritzoneinu Lir’os Es Malkeinu” (“it is our desire to to see our King”)! In other words, “We don’t want to be spectators! We want to be players, active participants in Kabbalas HaTorah!”

And all of a sudden, Parshas Yisro lists several preparations, Halacha after Halacha; “לֵ֣ךְ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֥ם הַיּ֖וֹם וּמָחָ֑ר וְכִבְּס֖וּ שִׂמְלֹתָֽם” (“Go to the prople and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and launder their clothes” -19:10), “הֱי֥וּ נְכֹנִ֖ים לִשְׁל֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים אַל־תִּגְּשׁ֖וּ אֶל־אִשָּֽׁה” (“be prepared for a three-day period, do not approach a woman [for relations]” -19:16), etc.

If one wants to be a spectator, that is one thing. But to be a participant, one needs days of Hachanah (preparation), Kedushah and Taharah! We could have received the Torah as spectators, and perhaps it would have been sufficient. We could have merely received the Torah through Moshe’s agency. But, we had the privilege of standing at Har Sinai to “see” our King and be participants in Kabbalas HaTorah!


Shomei’a K’Oneh at Har Sinai


What does it mean to be a participant in Kabbalas HaTorah? What was the role of Klal Yisrael in Kabbalas HaTorah? Tosafos in Brachos (20B s.v. “כדאשכחן בסיני”) writes something earth shattering, two words: “Shomei’a K’Oneh” (“one who hears is like one who responds aloud”). What does that mean? That we did not only hear the words of the Aseres HaDibros, the entirety of Torah, but we received it directly, as though it was placed into our very mouths.



*We should be Zocheh to not only hear words of Torah as an audience, but to receive Torah as active participants, active players in Torah, Avodas Hashem, and the coming of our Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!