Who’s We? by Rabbi Joel Grossman


In this week’s Parasha, after Hashem gives all the business laws and all the Mitzvot Ben Adam LaChavero, the commandments between people, the Jewish people announce, “Kol Asher Diber Hashem Naaseh VeNishma,” “Everything that Hashem said we will do and we will listen” (24:7).

Many commentaries ask why the plural words “Naaseh VeNishma,” “We will do and we will listen,” are used instead of the singular “I will do and I will listen,” which would be more appropriate.  An answer is recorded in the name of Reb Simcha Bunim in the form of a parable.  A group of people was stranded in a desert.  They were all hungry and thirsty and suffering from the hot sun.  Suddenly, a caravan arrived.  The driver came out of the wagon carrying large flasks of cool water.  Approaching one of the thirsty individuals, he asked, “Would you like some water?”  The man answered, “Yes!  We would be so grateful for some water.”  He spoke in the plural, for he knew with certainty that every member of the group was as desperately thirsty as he was.

When the Jews were at Har Sinai and Hashem asked them if they wanted to accept the Torah, each member of the nation felt with certainty that the other Jews had as great a desire to hear what Hashem said as he himself did.  They were as one, with one heart, and each could say confidently that he and all of his fellow Jews were united in this longing.  (This is quoted in Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser’s Something to Say.)

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his Darash Moshe, writes that the acceptance of the Torah was not a one-time occurrence.  Rather, it is an ongoing process.  For this reason the Torah gives a specific date for every Jewish holiday except for Shavuot, for which the Torah just says we must count fifty days after Pesach and celebrate Shavuot then.  Giving a specific date would limit it to one day.  The Chachamim teach us that we are to view each day as if it is the day on which we first received the Torah.  When we said “Naaseh VeNishma,” it showed a constant acceptance of the Torah.

The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (88a) says that when the Jews said “Naaseh VeNishma” a voice came out from heaven and said, “Who revealed My secret to people which until now was only known by the Malachei HaSharet?”  With our explanation of why “Naaseh VeNishma” is plural and not singular, we can understand what Hashem meant by His secret.  His secret was that Jews must be concerned with others and not just worrying about themselves.  This is what the Gemara (Shabbat 89a) says, “When the Jews said Naaseh before Nishma, Hashem said, “Now I can call them Beni Bechori Yisroel - My son, the first born, Israel.”

If we can learn this message from “Naaseh VeNishma,” and live our lives showing consideration and caring for others and not just for ourselves, we will illustrate a true acceptance of the Torah and have the Torah affect our lives as it is meant to do.

Two Levels of Learning by Shai Berman

The Ultimate High by Daniel Weintraub