These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on May 18, 2012 by Barer

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week’s parsha closes out the middle book of the Torah, ויקרא, Leviticus, with a number of further details relating to the priesthood.  One specific word caught my eye though: “These are the statutes and the laws and the Torot that Hashem has given between Him and the children of Israel at mount Sinai by the hand of Moshe” (26:46).  Granted, throughout the Torah the word ‘Torah’ is used to refer to (seemingly) different things, but rarely is the word pluralized.  Somewhat surprisingly, this does not seem to bother any of the commentaries other than Rashi, who remarks that the two Torahs refer to the written and oral Torah, namely what are now known as the Torah and Talmud respectively.  Spinoza, on the other hand, finds this quite noteworthy, and he says:

From what has been said, it is thus clearer than the sun at noonday that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone who lived long after Moses.  Let us now turn our attention to the books which Moses actually did write, and which are cited in the Pentateuch.  Firstly, it appears from [Shmot 22:14] that Moses, by the command of God, wrote and account of the war against Amalek…We hear also in [Shmot 24:4] of another book called the Book of the Covenant, which Moses read before the Israelites when they first made a covenant with God.   But this book or this writing contained very little, namely, the laws or commandments of God which we find in [Shmot 20:22-the end of ch. 24], and this no one will deny who reads the aforesaid chapter rationally and impartially. (A Theologico-Political Treatise, Chapter 8:48-53)

Spinoza is of the opinion that, only when it explicitly states that a ‘Torah’ is given over by Moshe, like it does here, that Moshe actually wrote those laws or parts of the Chumash (Pentateuch).  Excepting Rashi’s anachronistic read, it seems hard to deny that more than one book/scroll/text is being referred to here.

Moshe wrote the Laws
Attributed to his name
How about the rest?