I still hear echoes:
“And these are the laws that you shall place before them.”
“This is the Torah that Moses placed before the Children of Israel.”
What is the difference between “giving” the Torah and “Placing” it before Israel?
It’s even more interesting that we refer to this great event, or, more accurately, series of events, as the Giving of the Torah, not as the Placement of the Torah before us. The Torah blessings describe God as the “Notain HaTorah” – The Giver of the Torah.
It is almost as if we are saying that God “Gave” the Torah, but Moshe “Placed” it before us.
The Maharal of Prague explains in his introduction to Tiferet Yisrael that the reason we stress “Placed Before” is that all of us have equal access. God, through Moshe, placed the Torah before all of Israel. We simply must step forward and participate in the process.
My Rebbi, Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, compared the process of placing before as similar to a college student choosing from among the thousands of courses offered by the school. The options are placed before the student and he can choose what most interests him.
Torah is vast, deep and broad. It addresses every part of life. God gave all of it to us when He gave us existence. It has wisdom, directions and advice for every aspect of every life, anywhere in the world, anytime in history. Moshe placed this all before us, so we can choose what to learn, on what to focus and where we can find that one part of Torah that is uniquely ours.
Only God can give the torah. Even Moshe, the greatest of all teachers can only place before, present all that is there, make it attractive and then allow the child and student to choose.
And there’s more
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