Monday, August 23, 2021

Introduction to the Igros Moshe This volume contains in large measure the responsa I have written to those requesting my halachic opinions. It might well have been appropriate not to answer them definitively (halachah le-ma'aseh), since so many Torah luminaries, great in knowledge of Torah and in piety, refused to issue definitive halachic rulings because of the warning recorded in tractate Sotah [22a]. [There it states that] Rav Abba, in the name of Rav Huna, stated, "Many has she destroyed—this refers to a scholar who has not reached the status of posek, but nonetheless issues halachic rulings." It should be noted [in contradistinction], however, that [the following] is also written, "And mighty are those she killed," which is interpreted as referring to a Torah scholar who is worthy of acting as a posek but refuses to do so [Sotah 44a–b]. It was for this reason that the sons of Rav Akiva Eiger noted, in their preface to their father's responsa, that he felt duty-bound to respond to requests for his halachic opinions lest he violate the second dictum and be counted among those who were guilty of not issuing halachic rulings even though they had attained the requisite knowledge. Those who refrain from issuing halachic rulings do so because one must rule with absolute accuracy, as in the days of Rav, Rav Huna, and Rav Abba. But every generation has a different standard for "attaining the level of a posek." Since decisors of equal standing with those of earlier generations are not available today, we [in our own time] are duty-bound to issue halachic rulings to our generation, as stated by Rav Akiva Eiger. [Despite this need, the prospective posek] must surely fear the danger of ruling incorrectly. For this reason many [great Torah scholars] refrained from [issuing rulings], Rav Akiva Eiger's strictures notwithstanding. Rav Akiva Eiger was sensitive to the obligation to issue his halachic rulings despite his many concerns [regarding the dangers of halachic decision-making], but as a Torah giant he took his own measure and decided to assume the mantle of a posek. It follows, therefore, that those of minor accomplishments, such as I, who lack both Torah knowledge and wisdom, should refrain from issuing halachic rulings. [Furthermore, even if I do so,] I should certainly not publish them and thus issue rulings for the entire world. However, in my humble opinion, [the scholars of earlier generations,] despite their inferiority when compared to the Torah scholars of [still] earlier generations, and, therefore, their concern lest they rule in error—an error known to Hashem—did not refrain from assuming the obligation to do so. The Torah instructs us, "It is not in heaven" [Deuteronomy 30:12]. Each posek must rule as he sees fit, after meticulous study and analysis of all the relevant texts and prior rulings, to the best of his ability, fully cognizant of the heavy responsibility he has assumed in applying Hashem's Torah to the life of the Jew. If, after all his efforts, his ruling does not concur with that known to Hashem, he may take comfort in the statement of our sages: "Both these and those are the words of our Living Lord" [Eruvin 13a]. If he makes his decision with due diligence, he will be rewarded for his efforts even though he has not divined the real truth. This principle can be adduced from a discussion in tractate Shabbos [130a regarding the dispute as to whether preparations for milah, such as preparing the surgical knife and other implements, may take place on the Sabbath, since the mitzvah of circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath laws]. Rav Yitzchok said there was a town in Israel whose inhabitants accepted the ruling of Rav Eliezer that preparatory acts [machshirei milah] may be performed on the Sabbath—and Hashem rewarded them greatly. [Indeed,] when the [Roman] emperor's edict prohibiting milah was promulgated, this town was spared. [And yet,] in truth, [the townspeople] were wrong. The halachah which rejects R. Eliezer's opinion prohibits these acts of transgression. [Moreover, such violations] incur the death penalty when performed intentionally and a sin offering if done unwittingly. [The townspeople] were rewarded, nonetheless, because R. Eliezer arrived at his decision after due diligence. So it is with all disputes in the Talmud or later responsa. As long as no final conclusion is reached in the Talmud, each posek may rule in accordance with his own understanding, [and his rulings are authoritative] in his own town even if [others] rule in a contrary manner. All poskim receive a divine reward for their efforts even though only one of them is correct. Most certainly, we still find significant variations in laws and customs concerning very important Torah laws, as between those who follow the Rambam and R. Yosef Karo and those who follow the rulings of the Tosafists and the Rema. [But] both are the "words of our living Hashem" even though Hashem knows that only one is correct. The Talmud [Sanhedrin 6a–b] is aware of the great responsibility judges bear in applying Torah laws to the daily life of the Jew. Some may think, "Who needs all this anguish?" [i.e., If I err, I will be punished by Hashem, as Rashi explains]. The Talmud reassures [those with such concerns] that a judge may rule as he sees fit [for his intent is to reach a conclusion that is righteous and true to Torah precepts, as Rashi explains]. The same insight may be applied to the Talmud [Menachos 29b]. Rav taught that when Moshe Rabbenu went up to Heaven to receive the Torah, he noticed that Hashem was "adding crowns [i.e., the tagin] to the Torah letters." "Master of the Universe," Moshe asked, "what prevents You [from giving the Torah without the crowns]?" In other words, as Rashi explains, why are You bothering to add these embellishments to the Torah script? This explanation does not adequately explain the expression used, "What prevents You?", nor does it fit Hashem's answer, "There is a man named Akiva ben Yosef, who in the future will derive multitudes of halachos from every pen stroke I add in these crowns." I believe that the interpretation I am suggesting here corresponds exactly to the text. Hashem made the very letters of the Torah sovereign. That is, the Torah scholar may use his judgment to compare and contrast, and thus may rule in accord with the majority opinion as to the meaning of the Torah's sovereign words despite the possibility that his conclusions do not conform to the truth as understood by Hashem. The Holy One gave the Torah to Israel so that they would act in accordance with the written and oral traditions from Sinai as they understood them. No additional explanations will ever come from Sinai, for "[the Torah] is not in Heaven." Hashem's intent was always to acquiesce to the sages' understanding of the Torah's precepts. This is how I interpret the Talmudic passage in Menachos, which states that Hashem placed crowns on the letters of the Torah. Hashem gave them sovereignty, independent of His own definition of absolute truth. This explanation also elucidates the frequently occurring expression "The Torah says," for we rule in accordance with what "The Torah says." This makes it clear why [both positions in] a dispute between Shammai and Hillel should be viewed as [reflecting] the "words of a living Hashem" despite the fact that they are in opposition to each other [Eruvin 13a]. Moshe's question is now understandable. "What prevents You," he asked, from declaring that there is only one true interpretation and, therefore, from promulgating the Divine Laws in such detail as to allow for no dispute as to their intent? Why make the words of the Torah sovereign [and independent of Your intent]? Hashem's response defined the halachic process. The Torah is infinite in its impact on man and society. Hashem intended for sages like Rebbe Akiva to expound the Torah and thus expand its scope from the limited body of written and oral law to the vast expanse of Torah without boundaries or limits [Eruvin 21b]. When a decisor arrives at a pesak after prodigious effort to the best of his ability, and in full cognizance—due to his awe of Hashem—of the great responsibility he bears, it is truly the right ruling. Thus, the Torah scholars of our generation must be classified as having "attained the status of a posek," and are obligated to issue halachic decisions which have the force of "true halachah." The warning recorded in the Talmud [Bava Metzia 33a], that "errors committed unwittingly by a talmid chacham are to be considered willful transgressions," refers to one who did not make an adequate effort to clarify the relevant laws. This is the understanding of Rashi and Rabbenu Yona [Avos 4:12]. Failure to meticulously review all facets of the halachah before issuing a ruling counts as a intentional transgression, though the error may very well have been unwitting. Errors that could have been avoided by more diligent preparation are to be viewed as intentional transgressions, since the possibility of error is always present [and the decisor has the responsibility to guard against it]. I assumed the responsibility of responding to those who seek my halachic counsel [only] after I had clarified the halachah with much effort. In addition, I have recorded the reasoning for my rulings so that everyone may review my rationale. In doing this I assume the role of a teacher rather than that of a posek. The Talmud [Brochos 4a], noting that David HaMelech personally examined abortuses to determine the halachic status of the mother, teaches an important lesson. David HaMelech could have asked other great scholars to rule on these matters, but he did not, because it is forbidden to refuse to do a mitzvah [i.e., rule on a halachic matter] even if another person can act in one's place. That is why I answered every question addressed to me. In doing so, I also fulfilled a filial duty by giving pleasure to my father, my teacher, the Gaon, זצ"ל, who expressed both the hope and the certainty that many would come to ask my halachic guidance, whether orally or by written communication, and that Hashem would assist me in answering correctly. Indeed, I am thankful to Hashem for His help in permitting me to do so until now, and I pray that He will continue to assist me to accurately understand the teachings of our sages, and to issue rulings that are true to the halachah without error. I ask this blessing also for my children and grandchildren, and for all my descendants and students as well as for all Torah scholars. I decided to print my responsa because I only clarify and elucidate the halachah. Other Torah scholars can analyze my reasoning and decide whether they concur with my opinions. As anyone can see, I did not blindly rely on others, not even on the great decisors who preceded me, but critically reviewed and decided for myself what the correct ruling should be, as Rav Akiva Eiger taught us to do. I ask all who study my rulings likewise to critically analyze my writings. In doing so they will become aware of the halachic process, thereby learning to reach a halachic conclusion, and I will be rewarded for having taught this method. May Hashem grant all of us the gift of being able to study and teach all the days of our lives, and thus to merit the rewards of the final redemption, when Moshiach ben David comes to rebuild our Temple, and the world is filled with knowledge of Hashem


  1. “Introduction to the Igros Moshe” My theory. Many Torah luminaries refuse to issue rulings because they fear they’ll change their minds.
    Sota 22a
    “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, and mingle not with them that are given to change “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, And meddle not with them that are given to change; For their calamity shall rise suddenly; And who knoweth the ruin from them both?” (Proverbs 24:21-22) [Prov. XXIV, 21. The word for that are given to change is shonim from shanah which in later Hebrew means learn or repeat]. R. Isaac said: They are the men who learn legal decisions [and do not study with the scholars to understand their scope and derivation from Scripture]. This is self-evident [so why is it mentioned?] ! [It is not, because] you might have supposed [that the text meant], they who repeat a sin, and that it is according to the teaching of R. Huna; for R. Huna said: When a man commits a transgression and repeats it, it becomes to him something which is permissible. Therefore he informs us [that this is not the intention of the text]. A Tanna taught: The Tannaim [who only report teachings without giving their derivations] bring destruction upon the world. How can it occur to you to say that they bring destruction upon the world! Rabina said: Because they decide points of law from their teachings [The Baraithas and Mishnas which they memorized without knowing perfectly the reasoning on which they were based]. It has been similarly taught: R. Joshua said: Do they destroy the world? Rather do they cultivate the world, as it is said: As for the ways, the world is for him [sic., Hab. III, 6. In Meg. 28b this is explained: Read not halichoth ways, but halachoth legal decisions, i.e., as for him (who studies) legal decisions, the world exists on account of him.]. But [the reference is to] those who decide points of law from their teachings.”
    I like studying original texts, the Tanakh, Mishnah, Gamara. I remember they said of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik how he feared putting his thoughts to writing, because he changes his mind, but can he change the writing? The Malbim on Mishley p. 250: “God is to be feared in religious matters and the king in matters of law and social order. Dissenters and revolutionaries who seek to change the social order should be avoided, for they break the Divine law---which commands obedience to human authority---as well as the law of man. Moreover, when the revolutionary conspiracy is discovered, then the rebels are doomed. And even if the revolution succeeds, it is not certain if the new regime will be better. It may be worse than the old, with anarchy and violence the order of the day.” I see in daf hayomi many times a scholar reverses himself in a legal ruling.
    Bennet will meet Biden Thursday. Biden, seems, believes in appeasement. Oh no!

  2. Thank you. I don't have a copy of Igros Moshe so when the Rav suggested I compare the comment I made in a previous post to the introduction, my appetite was whet but I had no immediate way to satisfy it.

  3. Torah thought on this week’s parsha כי תבוא
    I heard that the 98 curses of כי תבוא refer to our terrible suffering during the fall of the 2nd Temple, sin of baseless hatred. The 49 curses of אם בחקתי תלכו refer to the fall of the 1st Temple, sin of idol worshipping, adultery, murder. How to explain the plain meaning of “They shall serve as signs and proofs against you and your offspring for all time. Because you would not serve the Lord your God in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything, you shall have to serve---in hunger and thirst, naked and lacking everything ----the enemies whom the Lord will let loose against you. He will put an iron yoke upon your neck until he has wiped you out.” (Deuteronomy 28:46-48).
    Hertz Chumash p. 869: “upon thy seed for ever. i.e, as long as they maintained their disobedience and rebelliousness. But, as stated in Deut. Xxx, 1-3, should they ‘bethink themselves’ and ‘return’, then would they reap the blessings of restoration and prosperity.”

    The abundance of everything was that an excuse, maybe, for their disobedience and rebelliousness ? No. Surely, not ! My theory. We are supposed to serve God in joy and gladness, so many Tanakh sources. Today daf hayomi Sukkah 51a: “They said that anyone who had not witnessed the rejoicing at the Libation Water-Well had never seen rejoicing in his life.”
    דברים כ"ח
    (מו) וְהָיוּ בְךָ לְאוֹת וּלְמוֹפֵת וּבְזַרְעֲךָ עַד עוֹלָם:
    (מז) תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָבַדְתָּ אֶת יְקֹוָק אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב מֵרֹב כֹּל:
    (מח) וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת אֹיְבֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ יְקֹוָק בָּךְ בְּרָעָב וּבְצָמָא וּבְעֵירֹם וּבְחֹסֶר כֹּל וְנָתַן עֹל בַּרְזֶל עַל צַוָּארֶךָ עַד הִשְׁמִידוֹ אֹתָךְ:
    מרב כל - בעוד שהיה לך כל טוב:

    Arachin 11a
    “Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: Whence do we know that fundamentally the song is obligatory on the basis of the Torah? As it is said “then he shall minister in the name of the Lord his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, who stand there before the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:7). Now which ministry is it in the course of which the Lord's name is mentioned? You must say: It is the song. But perhaps it is the [priest's] raising of the hands [to bless]? Since Scripture said: To minister unto Him and to bless in His name “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day.” (Deuteronomy 10:8). It follows that the priest's blessing [in itself] is no ministry. R. Mattenah said: [It is derived] from here: “Because you would not serve the Lord your God in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything” (Deuteronomy 28:46).”

    My theory. All Torah and all mitzvoth, Sabbath, holidays, Sukkah, Lulov and Esrog, Tefillin---everything we do, God wants, in joy and gladness. I try to do that, myself, as a Cohain, in blessing the people every day. We must call the Sabbath ענג a joy and gladness etc etc

  4. Torah thought daf hayomi Sukkah 52b:
    “R. Samuel b. Nahmani citing R. Johanan stated, The Evil Inclination entices man in this world and testifies against him in the world to come, as it is said, “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child Shall have him become master at the last.” (Proverbs 29:21). He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become a manon [מנון e.v., master] at the last, for according to the Atbah of R. Hiyya a witness is called manon.”
    משלי כ"ט כ"א
    מְפַנֵּק מִנֹּעַר עַבְדּוֹ וְאַחֲרִיתוֹ יִהְיֶה מָנוֹן:
    מפנק מנוער עבדו, מי שמפנק עבדו בל יעשה מלאכה מנער, ע"י שהוא נער עדיין ואין בו כח, אז אחריתו יהיה מנון, יהיה לו בו אונאה, כי יהיה בטל ממלאכה תמיד, אדרבה צריך להרגילו למלאכה ועבודה מנעוריו, שאז יהיה שוה כספו שנתן בעדו. והנמשל מי שמפנק הגוף שהוא עבד של הנפש בל יעבוד ויעמול בתורה ומצות מנערותו, כן ירפו ידיו גם בבואו בשנים, כי צריך להרגיל א"ע בעמל מנערותו:
    My theory. Brilliant insight of human nature of King Solomon. A man buys a slave that is a child. The man is tempted to coddle the slave and do everything to make the slave happy (appeasement?). Bad. When the child slave grows up, he will be the boss; effectively ruling the master. I apply this to Biden pampering and trying to make the Taliban happy. Biden removes sanctions that could make it difficult for the Taliban to get humanitarian food and such to Kabul after the deadline. The Taliban is effectively the boss and ruling Kabul. Biden hopes that the Taliban won’t make Biden look bad politically. Biden hopes for more and more appeasement of terrorists (Iran), cuddling them, saying that there are just children, really. Appeasement is the right way foreign policy. No. Appeasement emboldens the terrorists and makes the terrorist the master and much more evil.

  5. “Introduction to the Igros Moshe” Hello, horrific suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and 90 Afghans in Kabul blast.

    My theory. Biden/Harris must take sides of good rebels in Iran. This is the key. See my
    “Fighting the wicked
    It seems that God wants mankind to fight evil rulers: “Bury them all in the earth; Hide their faces in obscurity. Then even I would praise you,” He tells Job. And the last sentences of the Book of Job: “Afterward, Job lived one hundred and forty years to see four generations of sons and grandsons. So Job died old and contented.” (Job 42:16-17). God blessed him.
    Today, Donald Trump and Netanyahu fight evil rulers. We pray for God’s blessing. We pray for the wicked to turn from their evil ways: “Say to them: As I live—declares the Lord God—it is not My desire that the wicked shall die, but that the wicked turn from his [evil] ways and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, that you may not die, O House of Israel!” (Ezekiel 33:11).
    In Abraham’s time, there were a few rebels fighting the evil Sodom and Gomorrah rulers. Lot was a rebel in Sodom. Lot invited guests, though Sodom’s wicked king mandated the death penalty for inviting guests. The whole town came to Lot’s door: “But they said, Stand back! The fellow, they said, came here as an alien, and already he acts the ruler וישפט שפט ! Now we will deal worse with you than with them. And they pressed hard against the person of Lot, and moved forward to break the door.” (Genesis 19:9).
    Lot fought against the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Bravo. Abraham’s whole life he fought against wicked rulers.”

  6. Blood libel alert “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people לא תלך רכיל בעמך; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor לא תעמד על דם רעך: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16)
    ויקרא י"ט ט"ז
    לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ אֲנִי יְקֹוָק:
    Haftorah for parsha כי תבוא “Who are these that fly as a cloud, And as the doves to their cotes? Surely the isles shall wait for Me, with ships of Tarshish in the lead ואוניות תרשיש בראשונה, To bring טםור sons from ;afar, and their silver and gold as well כספם וזהבם אתם, For the name of the Lord your God, for the Holy One of Israel, who He has glorified you.” (Isaiah 60:8-9)
    ישעיהו ס' ט'
    כִּי לִי אִיִּים יְקַוּוּ וָאֳנִיּוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ בָּרִאשֹׁנָה לְהָבִיא בָנַיִךְ מֵרָחוֹק כַּסְפָּם וּזְהָבָם אִתָּם לְשֵׁם יְקֹוָק אֱלֹקַיִךְ וְלִקְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי פֵאֲרָךְ:
    מלבי"ם ישעיהו פרק ס פסוק ט
    (ט) כי. אבל אח"כ ונהרת ורחב לבבך, כי יתברר לך, א] נגד השאלה מי אלה כעב תעופינה, כי לי איים יקוו, גם האיים הרחוקים יבאו אלי, ואניות תרשיש יתקשרו בתקוה בראשונה, כמ"ש כי יהפך עליך המון ים. ונגד השאלה של כיונים אל ארובותיהם, משיב להביא בניך מרחוק, כי את בניך יביאו מרחוק והם ישארו שם, ויביאו אתם כספם וזהבם, כבא בדרך מרחוק לעקור דירתו שמוכר חפציו וצרור הכסף מוליך בידו: לשם. הדלתות מגבילים, כי לי איים יקוו זה יהיה לשם ה' אלקיך, כי יתנשא שמו לעיני רבים עמים. ומה שיביאו בניך מרחוק זה יהיה לשם קדוש ישראל. (שם זה נקרא בו ה' ע"ש קדושת ישראל ומעשיהם): כי פארך. לשם ולתפארת עד שבעבור זה יביאו אתכם כאשר יביאו את המנחה בכלי טהור בית ה':
    The Malbim explains like doves flying to their cotes will be the efforts to bring Jews, Jerusalem’s children, from afar. Sailors, non-Jewish, will bring Jews from afar along with the wealth of the Jews which the Jews made in faraway places. The sailors will then return to their homes from afar. Beautiful. The Malbim says the Jews in faraway places will sell their properties and obtain gold and silver to bring to Jerusalem.
    Hertz Chumash p. 875 “their silver and their gold. Of the Israelites (Luzzatto, Malbim). They will ‘pull up their stakes’ in the Diaspora, and will return with all that they have in the land of their father. It is quite needless to make ‘their silver and their gold’ refer to the nations. This only gives some non-Jewsih commentators an opportunity to denounce the imaginary exploitation contemplated by the author of those chapters, whom they call Trito-Isaiah, and his alleged appeal to covetousness and pride of race.”
    Pure blood libel, canard, lie, that Jews covet the gold and silver among the nations.

  7. Torah thought on this week’s parsha אתם נצבים
    “to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, with its sanctions ובאלתו which the Lord your God is concluding with you כרת עמך this day; that He may establish you this day as His people לו לעם, and be your God והוא יהיה לך לאלקים, as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those standing here with us this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:11-14).
    Hertz Chumash p. 878: “The Covenant is one which must be held to bind not only the living who are present that day, but their distant posterity as well.”
    דברים כ"ט י"ב
    לְמַעַן הָקִים אֹתְךָ הַיּוֹם לוֹ לְעָם וְהוּא יִהְיֶה לְּךָ לֵאלֹקִים כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לָךְ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב:
    למען הקים אותך היום לו לעם - כל כך הוא נכנס לטרוח למען קיים אותך לפניו לעם: והוא יהיה לך לאלקים - לפי שדבר לך ונשבע לאבותיך שלא להחליף את זרעם באומה אחרת, לכך הוא אוסר אתכם בשבועות הללו, שלא תקניטוהו אחר שהוא אינו יכול להבדל מכם.
    Shevuoth 39a
    “A false oath can destroy. If he says, I shall not swear [as a result of the judges homily on the seriousness of a false oath], he is dismissed immediately [from the court, and not given the opportunity to change his mind; and he must pay the claim]. But if he said, I shall swear, those who are standing there say to each other, “And he spoke unto the congregation, saying: Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be swept away in all their sins.” (Numbers 16:26). And when they adjure him, they say to him: Know that we do not adjure you according to your own mind, but according to the mind of the Omnipresent, and the mind of the Beth din ; for thus we find in the case of Moses our teacher: When he adjured Israel [to keep the commandments.], he said to them: Know that not according to your own minds do I adjure you, but according to the mind of the Omnipresent, and my mind; as it is said: Neither with you only [do I make this covenant and this oath] [Deut. XXIX, 13; i.e., not in accordance with your own minds.].”

    The whole people were standing in a ceremony of utmost seriousness---to make a covenant with God sealed by an oath. Moses feared fakers would verbally promise to keep His commandments and follow His Torah; but planned on tricks in their minds, as in Shevu’oth 29a:
    “Come and hear! And so we find that when Moses adjured the Israelites, he said to them: Know that I do not adjure you according to your own minds, but according to the mind of the Omnipresent and according to my mind [Deut. XXIX, 13: Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath, i.e., neither with you only, not as you yourselves think (with possible reservations in your minds) do I impose this oath of allegiance upon you]. Now, why [should he say this]? Let him say to them: Fulfil what God has decreed. Is it not then because they might bring to their minds an idol [i.e., they might in their own minds interpret the word God by idol; hence, an oath is in accordance with the mind of the utterer; and therefore Moses had to warn them]? No! But because an idol is also called god [an oath is in accordance with the mouth (i.e., actual words uttered); and god may actually imply idol], for it is written: gods of silver, or gods of gold, [ye shall not make unto you] [Ex. XX, 20].”

    My theory. Moses was dramatic and passionate against such fakers, e.g. “lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;” (Deuteronomy 29:17).

    What about fakers today that say words one way but have thoughts entirely different? Moses fought those that said in words they would follow God's commandments but had thoughts to follow some idol.


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