Devarim (Pisqa'ot 1-25)

Pisqa’ 2

Pisqa’ 21


“Eleven days from Horeb,

by way of Mt. Seir, until Kadesh-barnea.” (Dt.1:2)

Now is it really eleven days

from Horeb to Kibroth hataavah (cf. Nu.33:16),

and from Kibroth hataavah till Hazeroth (cf. Nu.33:17),

and from Hatzeroth till the wasteland of Paran (cf. Nu.10:12)?

Isn’t it only a journey of three days?

For it is said:

“And they journeyed from the mountain of HASHEM, on the way

for three days” (Nu.10:33).

Rabbi Judah says:

now did these eleven journeys

take only three days?

Isn’t it actually a journey of forty days?

This accords with what is said of Elijah:

“And he arose, ate, and drank.

On the nourishment from that meal

he traveled for forty days and nights,

as far as Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Ki.19:8).

Since you hold this to be impossible,

you should revert to the original claim

that the journey took eleven days (Dt.1:2)!

Had Israel been worthy,

they would have entered the Land

after only eleven days.

But since they corrupted themselves,2

the All-Present exacted from them

forty years for forty days,

as it is said:

“According to the number of days that you scouted the Land

—forty days—

a year for each day!” (Nu.14:34).


R. Judah says:

Had Israel been worthy,

they would have entered the Land after only three days,

as it is said:

“The chest of the covenant of HASHEM

traveled before them a journey of three days

to scout a resting place for them” (Nu.10:33).

Actually, rest can refer to the Land of Israel,

for it is said:

“For you did not arrive until now

to the resting place and to the inheritance

which HASHEM your God has given to you” (Dt.12:9).3

R. Banyah says:

Had Israel been worthy,

they would have entered the Land after only one day!,

For it is said:

Today you are departing, on the New Moon of Aviv.

Now when HASHEM brings you into the land of the Canaanite . . .” (Ex.13:4-5)—

that is, immediately!4

Abba Yose b. Hanan, a man of Yanoakh,

says in the name of Abba Kohen b. Dalya:5

had Israel been worthy,

as soon as their feet alighted from the sea,

they would have entered the Land,

for it is said:

“Go up and take it” (Dt.1:21)—

that is, immediately!

“As HASHEM, the God of your ancestors,

has spoken to you, do not be afraid!” (Dt.1:21)


“It was in the fortieth year,

in the eleventh month, on the first of the month” (Dt.1:3)—

this teaches that

that year had twelve months.

Now, don’t we know that

a year has twelve months?

For isn’t it already said:

“On the thirteenth of the twelfth month, the month of Adar” (Esth.3:13)!

And He also says:

“And Solomon had

twelve adminstrators over all Israel . . .

each one stocking provisions for one month a year” (1Ki.4:7).

And He also says:

“And one administrator over the Land” (1 Ki.4:19)—

what does one refer to?

This is [the extra administrator appointed for]

the intercalated month [of Adar II].6

R. Banyah says:

now was it not until Solomon arose that

we learned that a year has twelve months?

Isn’t it already said [of Moses]:

“And he said to them:

I am today a hundred and twenty years old” (Dt.31:2).

The Teaching needn’t have specified today.

So what does the Teaching mean by specifying today?

This day my allotted days7 are completed.8

Another word:

“Today” (Dt.31:2) teaches that

on that very day

the one hundred and twenty years since his birth were completed.

And He says:

“And the people went up from the Jordan

on the tenth day of the first month” (Josh.4:19).

Now, if you count backwards thirty three days

[from the 10th of Nisan till the 7th of Adar, the date of Moses’ death],

you’ll find that a year has twelve complete months!


Another word:

“It was in the fortieth year” (Dt.1:3)—

this teaches that

[Moses] didn’t rebuke them until he was close to death.

From whom did he learn this?

From Jacob, who did not rebuke his sons until he was close to death,

for it is said:

“And Jacob called to his sons and said—

gather together and I will relate to you

what will happen to you in the final days . . .

Reuben is my first-born” (Gn.49:1-3).

Now don’t we know that Reuben is his first-born (Gn.29:32)?

Rather, this [redundancy] teaches that

he said to him: Reuben, my son!

Let me tell you why I didn’t rebuke you all these years!

So that you wouldn’t abandon me and run off,

to take up with Esau, my brother.


Now, there are four reasons

for not rebuking a person

until the moment of death:

so that one doesn’t rebuke and rebuke again;

so that his companion not see him and suffer shame before him;

so that he not harbor a grudge against him in his heart;

and so that he can part from him in peace.

For rebuke [properly administered] leads to peaceful relations.

And, similarly, you find with Abraham,

for it is said:

“And Abraham rebuked Abimelech” (Gn.21:25)—

but what does He say then?

“And together they cut a covenant” (Gn.21:27).

And, similarly, He speaks of Isaac.

For it is said of Isaac:

“And Isaac said to them:

Why do you come to me,

even while you hate me and cast me from you” (Gn.26:27)?

What does He say then?

“And Isaac sent to them, and they left him in peace” (Gen.26:32).

And, similarly, you find with Joshua,

he did not rebuke Israel

until he was close to death,

for it is said:

“And if it is demeaning for you to serve HASHEM,

choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh.24:15).

And He says:

“And the people said to Joshua: . . . we will serve HASHEM!” (Josh.24:21).

And, similarly, you find with Samuel,

he did not rebuke Israel

until he was close to death,

for it is said:

“Here am I!

Testify against me in the presence of HASHEM and His anointed!” (1 Sam.12:3).

[And He says:]

“And they replied: You have not defrauded us! . . .” (1 Sam.12:4)

“And he replied: HASHEM witnesses you this day! . . .

And they replied: He is a witness!” (1 Sam.12:4-5).

And similarly you find with David,

he did not rebuke Solomon, his son,

until he was close to death,

for it is said:

“Now the day of David’s death was near,

and he commanded Solomon, his son, saying:

I am going the way of all the earth!” (1 Ki.2:1).


“Moses spoke to all Israel” (Dt.1:1).

Now, did Moses prophesy only

These are the words?” (Dt.1:1)

How do we know to include all

of the Utterances9 of the Torah—

[as well as]

the logical demonstrations10

the analogical inferences,11

the general principles12

and the specifications,13

the main rubrics14

and the details?15

The Teaching states:

“Moses spoke to them about all that HASHEM commanded him” (Dt.1:3)16

[in the written scroll of the Torah

as well as in the unwritten scribal elaborations].

  1. Corresponding to H:27-30; JN1:24-27.
  2. By refusing to enter the Land. The theme of Israel’s corruption is explored at length in Pisqa’ 306.
  3. //T. Zev.13:20, in the name of R. Shimon. Cf. Pisqa’ 1:13, where menukhah is rendered as “refuge.”
  4. Cf. Pisqa’ 55 ad Dt.11:29.
  5. A little-known tannaitic sage, commonly regarded as a disciple of Abba Yose b. Hanan on the strength of their appearance side-by-side in this passage.
  6. // T. BB.2:10.
  7. That is “days” in which each year is twelve months.
  8. //T. Sot.11:7. The Tosefta’s version opens with the question: “How do I know that Moses was born on 7 Adar?”
  9. Heb: dibrot. That is, the ten Utterances from Sinai (F:11:1.1)
  10. Heb: haqalot ve-hakhamorot. Cf. Pisqa’ 1:10 and 313.5
  11. Heb: hagezerot shavot.
  12. Heb: hakelalot.
  13. Heb: haperatot.
  14. Heb: gufim
  15. Heb: diqduqim.
  16. So SD. MT adds the clause: “to the offspring of Israel.”