IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

February 12th, 2020

Parshat Yitro records the remarkable moment in Jewish History known as “Ma’amad Har Sinai” — the Revelation at Mt. Sinai — at which God revealed himself to the fledgling nation and shared the Ten Commandments with them.

The text of the Ten Commandments was later engraved onto the Tablets, so that they would forever remain front-and-center for the Jewish faith.

In Parshat Va’etchanan some forty years later, Moses recalled the period following the Exodus, and then repeated the Ten Commandments verbatim in order to stress their centrality in Judaism.

Only — he did not actually repeat them verbatim, as there are quite a number of differences between the two records, some minor, others major — but so-much-so that the Talmud was prompted to suggest that both versions are correct and that both of them were articulated by God simultaneously.

Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, in his longest single piece of commentary on the Torah, takes issue with the Talmud’s apologetics, and vigorously champions a rationalist interpretation of the differences between these two records.

Rabbi Dunner compares the original texts of the Ten Commandments as they appear in the Torah, and goes through the Ibn Ezra’s impassioned piece — which, as it turns out, is not without its own issues.

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