The Ten Commandments were given 'בשבילי':- for ME

The 10 Commandments are written in the singular. Why? And how a desire for honor and position - take note, politicians - can make one give up the World to Come.

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 04:49

Judaism Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg
INN:DG
The Alshich Hakadosh, noting that the עשרת הדברות,: the Ten Commandments, are given in the singular, comments:‘Although Hashem assembled all the people together, He addressed each one, saying: ‘I am YOUR G-d’:’אנכי ה׳ אלקיך’, and did not say ‘אנכי ה׳ אלקיכם׳: in the plural’.

He expounds:‘Hashem, in so doing, was telling each one, that He was giving to him the whole of His Torah’.

He brings in aid a beautiful saying of our sages:’Each of the עשרת הדברות, the commandments, ‘spoke’ to each person, asking him: Do you accept me?’. And, each person did.

Our sages add a further insight, as to why the Ten Commandments were given in the singular:’To teach that each individual is to say to himself:The commmandments were given בשבילי, for me, and I am obliged to observe them all; and not to say: It is enough that they are observed by others, and I need not observe them’.

Asks the Beit Halevi:As the עשרת הדברות were given to each person ‘individually’, should not their acceptance also have been in the singular: ‘All that Hashem says, I shall do and I shall obey’; and not, as Bnei Israel proclaimed: ‘WE shall do and WE shall obey’? He brings another saying of our sages, to answer the question that he raised: ‘When Bnei Israel, on Mount Sinai, declared:’All that Hashem says, we will do and we will observe’, they found favor in Hashem’s Eyes, and He sent to each of them two angels, one who gave him a כלי זיין: ‘a weapon’,and one who placed a crown on his head’.

The Beit Halevi explains the ‘reason’ for these ‘gifts’: Each individual, in saying: ‘We shall do and we shall obey, was accepting upon himself two things: First that he himself would ‘do’ all that Hashem commanded ; and, second, that he would ‘observe’: do all in his power to ensure, that every other Jew would also observe Hashem’s commandments; to truly be ‘his brother’s keeper’.

The crown was for accepting ‘to do’, whilst the ‘weapon’ was to ‘symbolize’ his acceptance to ‘supervise’ his fellow Jews, that they would also observe the mitzvot.

The midrash Leket Tov offers another ‘reason’ as to the commandments being ‘given’ in the singular: This reflected, and was ‘testimony’ to the wondrous unity of Bnei Israel at Har Sinai; They were addressed ‘in the singular’, because-as our sages note-they were truly ‘כאיש אחד בלב אחד’:‘like one man, with one heart’.
 

May we, on our זמן מתן תורתנו, and every day, once again be, as we were on that wondrous day, כאיש אחד בלב אחד: ‘as one man, with one heart’!
Chag Sameach!

‘MY place, in the desert’. The fight for position

We read in Bamidbar, (2:1-22) of the commandment to separate the twelve tribes into four ‘groups’, each of three tribes, one to each of the four ‘winds’, in the travels of Bnei Israel, in Midbar Sinai.

Our sages relate, that Moshe was troubled by this commandment, fearing it would cause strife, as, if he were to direct, say, Yehuda to camp in the west, he would reply: I only want to be in the south, and so with each of the tribes.

Hashem ‘appeased’ him, by telling him that it was not necessary for him to ‘be involved’, as each tribe already had a ‘tradition’ from Yaakov Avinu, as to their places.

Rav Elya Lopian, notes that Hashem did not, in fact,  ‘deny’ Moshe’s concern, and wonders: How can it be that this unique generation, which had accepted the Torah as ‘one man with one heart’, could indeed ‘rebel’ should Moshe, at Hashem’s command, directed them to a specific station?

He answers: So strong is the יצר הרע of one’s honor, that it was indeed likely, as Moshe Rabenu feared, to cause strife, in the quest for a ‘better’ position!

His ‘proof’:How often does it occur, that when one is honored to be called up, say, fourth or fifth, and someone else is called up, say to the third or sixth aliyah- more ‘important’ aliyot- the former is distraught, as if his whole world has collapsed!

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 102.) relates the wondrous episode when Hashem, in person, offered King Jeroboam, despite his grievous sins, including idol-worship, a further chance to repent, saying: Repent, and I and you and Ben Ishai נטייל בגן עדן:together will ‘walk’ in Gan Eden; asks Jeroboam: who will be at the head? Answers Hashem: Ben Yishai; responds Jeroboam: I am not prepared to be second to David! 

And so, Jeroboam declines, and returns to his idolatrous practices; and, as our sages relate (Sanhedrin 90.) he is one of those that have no share in Olam Haba!

Comments Rav Nebenzahl: his misplaced sense of his honor, led him, when he felt he was not receiving ‘his due, to be prepared to lose ‘all’.

If this is the reaction of Jeroboam, whose great wisdom and Torah learning, is taught by our sages, we can glean how ‘real’ the danger one’s sense of honor, can be! 

And the antidote? To be faithful to the ways of Moshe Rabeinu, the humblest of men, to ‘run away’ from thoughts of honor.

A parting thought: Our sages say (Eruvin 13:):He who runs away from honor, is the one who will be ‘chased’ by honor’!





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