Rebbi Chanina ben Agil said that he heard from Shmuel bar Nachum that the
reason why it does not say "Tov" in the first Luchos is because they were
destined to be broken, and Hashem did not want the "Tov," the good in store
for the Jewish people, to be "broken" with the Luchos.
This Gemara seems perplexing. How could the Amora, Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, say
that he did not know whether or not the Torah says "Tov" in the second set
of Luchos? An Amora certainly knows the verses in the Torah, and even if,
for some reason, he does not know the verse, he could simply look it up!
What does the Gemara mean? (See TOSFOS in Bava Basra 113a, DH Tarvaihu.)
Furthermore, the Gemara answers that it does not say "Tov" in the first
Luchos since those Luchos would eventually be broken, and if "Tov" would be
written in them, then the Jewish people would, Chas v'Shalom, lose that Tov.
This implies that the verses in Parshas Yisro and in Parshas Va'eschanan are
discussing two separate sets of Luchos. The verses in Parshas Yisro are
describing what was written on the set of Luchos that Moshe Rabeinu received
on Shavuos, which were broken on the seventeenth of Tamuz, when Moshe
Rabeinu descended the mountain only to find the people worshipping the Egel
ha'Zahav. The verses in Parshas Va'eschanan are describing what was written
in the second set of Luchos, which Moshe Rabeinu brought down to the Jewish
people on the following Yom Kippur. The same conclusion may be drawn from
the Pesikta Rabasi (beginning of Parshah 23), which implies that the
description in Parshas Yisro is that of the first Luchos, while the
description in Parshas Va'eschanan is that of the second Luchos. The Pesikta
Rabasi addresses the fact that in the first account of the Aseres ha'Dibros
it says, "*Remember* (Zachor) the Sabbath day," while in the second account
it says, "*Keep* (Shamor) the Sabbath day." The Pesikta explains that the
word "keep" was used to teach that the Jewish people were being instructed
that only through "keep" the Shabbos would they succeed in "keeping" the
second Luchos from being lost as the first ones were. Here, too, the
implication is that the account of the Aseres ha'Dibros in Va'eschanan
records the text of the *second* Luchos, while the account in Yisro
describes the text of the *first* Luchos.
However, it seems clear from the verses themselves that both are describing
the same set of Luchos -- those that Moshe Rabeinu received on Shavuos. The
Aseres ha'Dibros of Va'eschanan are introduced with the words, "Hashem spoke
to you face to face on the mountain, from the midst of the fire. I stood
between Hashem and you... to tell you the word of Hashem" (Devarim 5:4-5).
This clearly seems to be a description of the oral delivery of the *first*
Luchos, amidst the spectacle of thunder and lightning and loud blast of the
Shofar, in the presence of the entire congregation of Israel (as described
in Shemos 20:14-17). We do not find such details accompanying the delivery
of the second Luchos, which Moshe himself brought down for the Jewish people
upon his return from Har Sinai (as described in Shemos 34:28-29 and Devarim
Regarding the differences between the two accounts, the common approach
among the Rishonim is that when Moshe reviewed the Aseres ha'Dibros for the
people, he added several explanatory comments of his own to the original
wording. The Va'eschanan version is Moshe's rewording of the Aseres
ha'Dibros (IBN EZRA to Shemos 20:1, RAMBAN to Shemos 20:8, and others). This
seems to be the approach of the Gemara in Shevu'os (20b) as well.
How, then, are we to understand our Gemara, and the statement of the Pesikta
Rabasi, which imply that the Aseres ha'Dibros quoted in Va'eschanan is a
description of the giving of the *second* Luchos?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON (in Chidushei Agados) explains that Rebbi Chanina ben
Agil understood that "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" refers to reward in this world,
since the phrase "l'Ma'an Ya'arichun Yamecha" in the same verse (Devarim
5:16) already includes reward in the World to Come. Rebbi Chanina was
wondering why the first version of the Aseres ha'Dibros did not include this
promise of reward in this world.
Rebbi Chiya bar Aba replied that he is not sure whether "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach"
is indeed referring to reward in this world. Perhaps these words, too, are
referring to reward in the World to Come, like Rebbi Yakov says in Kidushin
(39b). He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum in order to clarify
this point. Rebbi Tanchum agreed that the verse indeed promises reward in
this world, but it was not written in the Luchos in order for it not to be
shattered along with the Luchos, symbolizing the loss of all good in this
In the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros this promise of reward does
appear, in order to show that Hashem intended to reward the performance of
the Mitzvah of Kibud Av va'Em with a promise of good in this world as well,
even though it was not written explicitly in the Luchos because of the
reason that Rebbi Tanchum gave.
(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA explains that the fact that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav
Lach" were not written in Parshas Yisro, but were included in Parshas
Va'eschanan, teaches us one of two things: it either teaches us that
although they were not written on the Luchos, Hashem did say those words, or
it teaches that they were not written on the Luchos and Hashem did not say
them either, but Moshe Rabeinu added those words in explanation of the
Aseres ha'Dibros (as the Ibn Ezra explains). Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was saying
that he did not know which of these two options is correct -- did Hashem
actually say "l'Ma'an Yitav" or was it an explanation added by Moshe
Rabeinu? Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, therefore, could not answer the question of
Rebbi Chanina, because the answer would differ depending on whether Hashem
spoke these words of "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach," and Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was
uncertain about this. He therefore sent Rebbi Chanina to Rebbi Tanchum, who
answered that the words "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" were not written on the Luchos,
in order to prevent their loss with the breaking of the Luchos (and that is
why they do not appear in Parshas Yisro). However, the words *were* spoken
by Hashem even though they were not written on the Luchos.
(A similar answer can be found in HA'MIKRA V'HA'MESORAH of RAV REUVEN
MARGOLIOS, and in EMES L'YAKOV, Parshas Va'eschanan 5:12, of RAV YAKOV
KAMINETSKY, who calls the words that Hashem spoke but did not write in the
Luchos, "Kri v'Lo Kesiv.")
According to the Pnei Yehoshua, our Gemara does not mean that the second
version of the Aseres ha'Dibros is referring to the second set of Luchos,
but rather both are referring to the first set that Moshe Rabeinu brought
down on Shavuos.
(c) We can expand upon the approach of the Pnei Yehoshua and suggest that
even according to Rebbi Tanchum, Hashem did not say the words "l'Ma'an Yitav
Lach." Rebbi Tanchum is explaining both why Hashem did not promise "l'Ma'an
Yitav Lach" verbally or include it in the Luchos in written form, when the
Luchos were given.
It remains to be explained in what manner the Jewish people would have lost
"all good" had "l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" been shattered together with the Luchos.
Perhaps according to what we have explained, we may understand this Agadah
Why did Moshe feel the need to add explanatory remarks in the second account
of the Aseres ha'Dibros? If the people understood the Aseres ha'Dibros the
first time, why should they now require further explanation, forty years
later? Moreover, what explanation is actually added by the numerous changes
that Moshe made?
The Torah tells us that, upon witnessing the Jewish people's awe-filled
reaction to His revelation, Hashem said to Moshe, "Who would make it
possible that the Jewish people would fear Me like this and keep all of My
commandments all the days? Then they and their children would have good
forever!" (Devarim 5:26). The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (5a) tells us that at
that moment, the Jewish people should have immediately responded to Hashem's
remark by exclaiming, "*You* make it possible for us!" Hashem had given them
a cue to declare their desire for Him to draw them closer, but they did not
understand the hint.
Why did Moshe see fit to mention this comment of Hashem's at this point,
seeing that it is not recorded in Shemos in the context of the original
story of the revelation on Har Sinai? The Gemara explains that it was only
at this time, forty years after the revelation, that Moshe realized that
Hashem gave this opportunity to the Jewish people. As the Gemara puts it, "A
student does not fully understand the intent of his master's words until
forty years after he has heard them."
Perhaps such an explanation may answer our questions as well.
Let us begin with a Mashal. Once there was a father who was sending his son
off to school in a distant city. They had a relative in that city who was
involved in all sorts of illegal schemes. The father suspected that the
relative would try to lure his son away from earning an honest livelihood by
enticing him with seductive, illegal offers. Naturally, the father wanted
his son to avoid this relative at all costs. However, he knew that it would
be counterproductive for him to give explicit instructions to his son to
refrain from meeting this man, as this would only arouse the boy's curiosity
concerning the relative. The young man, suspecting some secret family feud,
might even acquaint himself with the villain rather than shun him.
Furthermore, the son might feel insulted that his father showed such lack of
confidence in his own judgment, making him unreceptive to the father's sound
advice. Instead, the father offered his son several general, indirect
suggestions: Do not keep company with a person whose integrity is in doubt;
do not be eager to accept monetary offers from strangers; do not become
taken in with seemingly easy schemes for making large amounts of money, etc.
Hopefully, through this kind of indirect counsel, the son would realize when
the time of temptation would arrive that he should keep his distance from
the offensive relative.
This parable applies to the circumstances of the Jewish people at the time
of the giving of the Torah. Hashem knew that His children would soon be
facing challenging situations, and that their loyalty to Him would be put to
the test. In fact, only forty days after the Torah was given, the incident
of the Egel ha'Zahav took place right at the foot of Har Sinai. It was this
incident that caused the loss of the first Luchos, and that was destined to
cause the Jews so much future suffering and misfortune (see Rashi to Shemos
35:34; Parashah Page, Balak and Tishah b'Av 5755). As the Mishnah says,
"Everything is foreseen [by Hashem]" (Avos 3:15) -- the past present and
future are one to the Creator.
Perhaps we may suggest that Hashem wanted to at least give His people veiled
warnings of the trial that awaited them. This way, when the pitfall of the
Egel ha'Zahav would present itself, perhaps the Jews would reconsider before
sinning, realizing that Hashem had cautioned them to beware of falling into
just such a trap. The Giver of the Law therefore implanted several tacit
hints into the wording and nuances of the Aseres ha'Dibros. However, the
intent of these hidden messages was lost on the people. Even Moshe himself
did not grasp these subtle allusions until forty years later -- in
hindsight, after the people's sin at Sinai was already history.
It took Moshe forty years to understand that the people had forever lost
their opportunity to declare "*You* make it possible for us not to ever
sin!" At the same time, Moshe realized that Hashem had been trying to give
them the advice they would need to avoid sinning. Now, while he was
delivering his farewell address of admonishment and warning to the Jewish
people, he pointed out to them the several gentle warnings that Hashem
Himself had provided in the Aseres ha'Dibros.
Let us examine some of the differences in the wording of the two versions of
the Aseres ha'Dibros and see how they can be explained according to this
A reference to the Egel ha'Zahav can be found in the fourth commandment. In
the Shemos version, the fourth commandment enjoins us to refrain from all
Melachah on Shabbos -- "you, your servant, your maidservant and your
animals." In Devarim this is rephrased as "you, your servant, your
maidservant, *your ox, your donkey, and all* your animals" (Devarim 5:14).
Why are several examples of particular animals added?
The reason that Hashem told the people to extend the Shabbos rest to their
animals, Moshe now realized, was because there might have been an
inclination among the people to accord a revered status -- or perhaps some
element of divinity -- to some animals, thus exempting them from
participating in Hashem's ordained day of rest. For this reason Hashem
stressed that animals, too, must rest. In order to bring out this point,
Moshe now rephrased this sentence to explicitly equate the *ox* with all
other animals, as far as the day of rest was concerned. As Moshe explained,
Hashem was hinting to us that we should not bestow any form of veneration on
any animal, particularly the ox which he knew would shortly become a snare
for the people.
The phrase "*as Hashem had commanded you*" is found twice in the second
version of Aseres ha'Dibros -- in the fourth and fifth commandments,
concerning the Shabbos (verse 12) and honoring one's parents (verse 16) --
and not at all in the first version. Since Moshe was paraphrasing the words
of Hashem that were said at the time of the giving of the Torah, the words,
"as Hashem had commanded you," must mean that Hashem had commanded these two
laws some time prior to the revelation at Har Sinai. As the Torah relates
(Shemos 16:25), the Jewish people were indeed given a series of laws at
Marah several weeks before they arrived at Sinai, and the Sages tell us that
the Shabbos and honoring one's parents were among these laws (Rashi, ad
loc.). But why did Moshe see fit to remind the people of the episode at
Moshe realized now that the reason Hashem chose to prelude the giving of the
Torah with these two Mitzvos, out of all the hundreds of choices, was
because He wanted the people to become accustomed to them even before they
arrived at Har Sinai. These two precepts would, more than any others, enable
them to better withstand the test that would face them there. How is this?
The Mitzvah of keeping Shabbos, we are told, is considered as important as
the keeping of all the other Mitzvos combined. The same is said for the
Mitzvah of refraining from idolatry (Eruvin 69b). The reason for this
important emphasis on the Mitzvah of Shabbos is that the observance of
Shabbos constitutes a declaration that one believes in Hashem as the Creator
of the universe.
Similarly, the Gemara (Yevamos 5a) tells us that honoring one's parents is
tantamount to honoring Hashem Himself. (Recognizing one's indebtedness to
his parents for having brought him into the world will bring a person to a
recognition of Hashem.) In fact, the Gemara (Berachos 35b) tells us that
"father" and "mother" may sometimes be taken to mean "Hashem" and "the
Congregation of Israel," respectively. Thus the commandment to honor one's
father, if expanded to its broadest scope, will bring one to show honor to
Hashem as well.
These two Mitzvos -- Shabbos and honoring one's parents -- had it in their
power to strengthen the Jews' trust in Hashem. According to Rashbam, this is
why these are the only two positive Mitzvos that were included in the Aseres
ha'Dibros. The only positive Mitzvos included were those that involved
accepting upon ourselves the yoke of the service of Hashem. That must have
been the purpose of the Mitzvos of observing the Shabbos and honoring one's
parents also (Rashbam, Shemos 20:7).
Moshe now realized that these two Mitzvos were given to the people before
their time, so to speak, because of the important lesson they were supposed
to impart concerning the honor we must give to Hashem. In fact, our Sages
tell us that were the Jews to have kept their first Shabbos properly, they
would never have been exiled from their land (that is, they would not have
sinned with the Egel ha'Zahav, causing their eventual exile). The Gemara
adds that even the worst idol-worshippers are absolved if keep the Shabbos
day (Shabbos 118b). Moshe now understood that the early start the Jews were
given in these two Mitzvos was for the same reason that specifically these
two positive commandments were chosen to be included in the Aseres
ha'Dibros. This is why he mentioned the fact that the people had been
forewarned of these Mitzvos in the second version of the Aseres ha'Dibros.
Now we can understand our Gemara. The Gemara says that the reason the words
"l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" (in the fifth commandment, honoring one's parents) did
not appear on the first Luchos was so that this promise for goodness to be
bestowed by Hashem would not be broken along with the Luchos. The lessons of
"l'Ma'an Yitav Lach" -- "so that it will be good for you" (that is, this
Mitzvah will help you merit the eternal good of Olam ha'Ba -- and not just
Olam ha'Zeh -- since this Mitzvah will help you avoid the terrible sin that
was threatening them) were *implicit* in the text of the Aseres ha'Dibros,
as Moshe himself pointed out in the Va'eschanan version of the Aseres
ha'Dibros. They were not stated *explicitly* in the Luchos, for if they had
been -- and the people would have sinned in spite of the explicit warning --
they would never again have any "goodness." Their sin would then have been
so grave that they would have lost any chance of ever attaining the ultimate
The Pesikta quoted earlier says that the word used for Shabbos observance in
Va'eschanan is "*Keep* (or 'be careful of') the Shabbos day," to imply that
the Jewish people should *keep* these Luchos and not lose them as they did
the first ones. Perhaps this may be explained in a similar fashion. It is
not that the second Luchos actually said the words "*Keep* the Shabbos day."
Rather, Moshe -- when he recounted what was written on the *first* Luchos,
pointed out to the people why the commandment of observing the Shabbos day
was included in the Luchos. "Keeping" (i.e. observing) the Shabbos was the
key to "keeping" the Torah permanently. Moshe used the word "keep" when he
retold the events of the first Luchos in order to emphasize this message to
the Jewish people. Observe the Shabbos properly, he said, and you will never
again come into a situation where the Torah will become lost to you!