9.17.2006

Nitzavim follow up

I posted this as a comment on the original post, but for those who missed it:

For the curious reader of JXG's comment, Rashi's explanation of the dots over "לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ," "for us and our sons," is that from the words of the verse (כח הַנִּסְתָּרֹת--לַיהוָה, אֱלֹהֵינוּ; וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד-עוֹלָם--לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת. 28 "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."), it seems that we could be punished for violating the revealed things but not the hidden things, which only God knows about. The dots, Rashi says, teach us that the Israelites weren't liable for violating the revealed things until they crossed the Jordan River, and accepted upon themselves the oath on Mt. Grizim and Mt. Aival, and were made responsible (areivim--there's probably a better translation for that than "responsible") one for the other.

Ooooooookaaaaaaay. I'm not sure how the dots teach that, but Rashi does say that they are "lidrosh," which may imply a not-quite-pshat reading (in case you couldn't tell by the content of what he says).

I heard some sort of drash (sorry I don't remember from whom) at some point about the Israelites accepting the Torah twice--once at Mt. Sinai and once in Persia, after the Purim story happened, when it says "kimu v'kiblu" in the Megillah. This Rashi in Deuteronomy would seem to imply that there was a third acceptance (or second acceptance, really), which happened after they crossed the Jordan. Interesting things to think about. I sort of feel, post-Enlightenment, at least in modern society, that each individual accepts the Torah and observance upon him or herself, because previous acceptances of it by ancient Israelites seem less relevant, somehow. All metaphysical aspects aside, it's as if we have the choice all over again, and we can each say "na'aseh v'nishma" or ditch it.

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