Monday, October 03, 2011

An alternate explanation of ה מִסִּינַי בָּא

Summary: The second pasuk of Zos Habracha reads:

ב  וַיֹּאמַר, ה מִסִּינַי בָּא וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ--הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן, וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ; מִימִינוֹ, אשדת (אֵשׁ דָּת) לָמוֹ.2 And he said: The LORD came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came from the myriads holy, at His right hand was a fiery law unto them.

While the famous traditional explanation of the pasuk "Hashem miSinai ba..." is about mattan Torah, and Hashem offering the Torah to various nations first, the Ramban offers a competing explanation. The Tur follows in his path, quoting and excerpting the main points. What follows is the Tur, in his long commentary, where explains most of it as referring to Hashem's manifesting His Presence through the stay in the midbar.


ה מִסִּינַי בָּא -- the Ramban writes, 'as our Sages darshened (Avodah Zarah 2b) that this refers to mattan Torah, that the nations did not wish to receive it, and it mentions all the descendants of Abraham, that not one of them wished to receive it, and it was revealed as well to the other nations, and they did not wish to receive it, in accordance with the tradition {kabbalah}.

And it is possible to explain, מִסִּינַי בָּא -- that from there He began to manifest His Presence in Israel, and from then, it was not removed from them. For initially, the Glory descended upon Har Sinai, and there it was the entire time Moshe ascended and descended. And when the second luchot were given to him, the Glory dwelt in the tent of Moshe. And when the Mishkan was erected, the Glory dwelt in the Mishkan. And from there were all the Divine missives all the days of the wilderness.

וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ -- that after they traveled from Sinai, in the first travel, the cloud dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and from there he sent the scouts, and it was banished and the dibbur was not with Moshe until they arrived at Seir, at the border of the sons of Esav, at the end of the forty years, as is stated there {Devarim 2:7}, כִּי ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בֵּרַכְךָ, בְּכֹל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֶךָ, etc. And behold, then, when they came from Seir, Hashem was for them the light of the world, and they completed their time of mourning, and He commanded them to keep from Seir, Ammon, and Moav, and said to them that they should begin inheriting the land of Sikhon [sic] and Og.

הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן -- that one looks at them, and there their situation is for a light of His face, from Har Paran {?}. For the beginning of their entering the Great Wilderness was from the wilderness of Paran, and from them, He shined forth upon them to see what they need in the Great Wilderness. From the language of {Iyov 10:3}:

ג  הֲטוֹב לְךָ, כִּי תַעֲשֹׁק--כִּי-תִמְאַס, יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ;    וְעַל-עֲצַת רְשָׁעִים הוֹפָעְתָּ.3 Is it good unto Thee that Thou shouldest oppress, that Thou shouldest despise the work of Thy hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?

וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ; מִימִינוֹ, אֵשׁ דָּת לָמוֹ -- to explain, there ascended upon them from the myriads holy, but from the right of his Glory there was for them the esh dat, and not from the aforementioned angels, but rather from the right of Hashem Himself.

אֵשׁ דָּת לָמוֹ -- to explain, that He showed them the Upper fire, and informed them of the Law, in the manner that it is stated {Devarim 4:36}:

לו  מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמִיעֲךָ אֶת-קֹלוֹ, לְיַסְּרֶךָּ; וְעַל-הָאָרֶץ, הֶרְאֲךָ אֶת-אִשּׁוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה, וּדְבָרָיו שָׁמַעְתָּ, מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ.36 Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He made thee to see His great fire; and thou didst hear His words out of the midst of the fire.

End quote of the Tur.

Note that even with this alternate explanation, at the end, it certainly is referring to mattan Torah. It is also mildly interesting how Ramban is willing to differ from 'kabbalah', received tradition, about the meaning of this pasuk. Not too surprising, though.

Other pashtanim explain it, as well, as not referring to the midrash of offering the Torah to other nations. See for instance Shadal. Though Shadal takes neither the start nor the end of the pasuk as referring to mattan Torah.

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