THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) NAME CHANGES
QUESTION: The Gemara says that Avraham's name was irrevocably changed to
Avraham from Avram. Similarly, a new name, Yisroel, was added to Yakov's.
Why was Yitzchak's name not changed?
2) IN WHAT LANGUAGE WAS THE TORAH SAID?
(a) RAV NISIM GA'ON quotes the Yerushalmi (Berachos, end of ch. 1) that
addresses this question. Avraham's original name, points out the
Yerushalmi, was given to him by his father, Terach. Yakov's name was given
to him by his father, Yitzchak. Yitzchak's name, though, was given to him
directly by G-d Himself (Bereishis 17:19). Therefore, there was no need to
We could add that this also explains why the use of Avraham's original name
had to be entirely discontinued, while Yakov's original name could continue
to be used. Since Avraham's original name was given to him by an idolater,
it had to be completely changed. Yakov's name was given to him by a Tzadik
-- his father -- and therefore its use did not have to be discontinued.
(b) RABBEINU BACHYE (Bereishis 26:18) cites RABBEINU CHANANEL who explains
that when Yitzchak excavated the wells that his father had dug, he did not
give them new names. Instead, he called them by the names that his father
had given to them (Bereishis 26:18). As a reward, his name as well was not
Rabbeinu Bachye adds that we learn from here the importance of following in
the ways of our righteous parents and ancestors and not veering from the
foundation they have laid for us even in seemingly insignificant matters.
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses whether the Torah was said in every language
or only in Hebrew. To what Halachah is this question relevant?
(a) RASHI (Megilah 17b, DH b'Chol Lashon), according to the understanding
of Tosfos and the Tosfos ha'Rosh, explains that this question -- whether
the Torah was said in every language or only in Hebrew -- is relevant for
the reading of any of the sections of the Torah which the Torah requires us
to read (such as Parshas Zachor, the verses uttered upon bringing Bikurim
[first fruits] to the Beis ha'Mikdash, and the verses recited by a woman
performing Chalitzah). Even though the Mishnah in Sotah (7:2) says that
these must be read in Hebrew, our Gemara is of the opinion that that there
are Tana'im who argue over this point.
(b) The RITVA understands Rashi in Megilah to be saying that this question
is relevant to whether a Torah scroll written in any other language have
the same sanctity as one written in Hebrew. (If it does not have the
sanctity of a Torah scroll, then we may not read any of the Parshios from
it, and it need not be treated with the same care as a Torah scroll.)
(c) TOSFOS (DH b'Lashon ha'Kodesh) and the RASHBA in the name of RAV HAI
GA'ON explain that the Gemara is in doubt as to how the Torah was given at
Sinai -- did the Almighty give us the Torah only in Hebrew, or in every
language? (See also Tosfos DH b'Lashon)
(d) The Ritva in the name of the RA'AVAD explains that the Gemara wants to
know in what language the Almighty taught the Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu, and
in what language did Moshe Rabbeinu teach the Torah to the Jewish people.
The Ra'avad adds that a practical consequence of this question is whether
one must learn Torah, in our day, in Hebrew in order to fulfill the
commandment, "You shall ponder the Torah day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8). If
the Torah was taught to Moshe only in Hebrew, then one fulfills his
obligation to learn Torah only when he learns it in Hebrew.