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    Writing the Torah – Mishpatim

    Towards the end of this week’s sidra, God tells Moses to come up upon the mountain to receive the Torah and commandments which He had written (Ex. 24:12).

    So when was the Torah written? In advance? After the event?

    Maimonides (in the introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah) thinks it was at the end of the 40 years in the wilderness.

    Nachmanides thinks Moses wrote the first section (from Creation up to the building of the Tabernacle) when he came down from Mount Sinai and finished the Torah at the end of the 40 years.

    What about the idea in our verse that God had already written the Torah?

    Nachmanides suggests that what God was talking about was the Ten Commandments.

    Sforno says God had written the whole Torah but decided to delay giving it to Moses and the Israelites because of the sin of the Golden Calf.

    Rashi has a compromise view, that in truth God was talking about the Ten Commandments but He had actually already written the whole Torah since all the 613 mitzvot are linked up to and implicit in the ten principles of the Decalogue.

    A fascinating interpretation is given by the Meshech Chochmah of Rav Me’ir Simchah of Dvinsk. His idea is that in a spiritual sense the Torah was already written on the hearts of all the people of Israel.

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