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Va’era - Weekly Thought - By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Thursday, 14 January, 2010 - 2:20 am

This week is Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Shevat. The Torah specifically mentions this date - the first day of of the eleventh month - as the day Moshe Rabbenu began to translate the Torah into all seventy languages.
Why did he have to do it?  There are those who answer that Moshe Rabbenu was afraid that among the Bnei Yisroel, especially the Erev Rav there might be some who did not know Loshon Kodesh.  If this was his concern, he should not have waited until the end of his life to translate, but rather he should have done it immediately after Matan Torah to provide for those who did not know Loshon Kodesh.  Others explain that Moshe knew that in the future there would be a golus, and to prevent the Torah from being forgotten when the Yidden were dispersed, he translated it.  Moshe could have left this task for the Sanhedrin - they were required to know all seventy languages, they could take care of this translation very competently.  So why was it necessary that Moshe Rabbenu himself translate the Torah and why now, at the end of his life and not rely on the Sanhendrin in later generations?

The Rebbe answers based on the Ramban's explaination that the Torah is written in Loshon Kodesh, the language that Hashem speaks. Torah is known as the Torah of Hashem -- as the brocha states: "the one who gave us His Torah."  This being the case, Torah should be studied only in Loshon Kodesh (Hebrew)!  Not only the Written Torah, but also the Oral Torah - Mishna, Gemorah, etc. and all their commentaries should only be studied in Loshon Kodesh. 

That's why Moshe Rabbenu explained the Torah in all seventy languages.  He brought the Kedusha of Torah into these languages so that when someone says words of Torah, no matter the language he speaks, he has to precede it with a bracha, and he fulfills the mitzvah of learning Hashem's Torah.

This is one of the reasons that later Moshe commanded the Jewish people to write down the Torah in all seventy languages when they cross the Yarden River and entered Eretz Yisroel. So that Torah when it is written in any language has sanctity, requiring us to show proper respect to any Torah book in any language.

What is the practical lesson we can take from this?  Moshe Rabbenu gave the power to every Jew to teach Torah to other Jews, in any language - even a Jew who is physically or spiritually far away we have the responsibility to reach out to him and to teach him the Torah in his language, even if a person only knows an Alef, he must teach it; even a young child can teach other children alef-beis or stories he has learned.

Based on Lekutei Sichos, vol. 36 - Rosh Chodesh Shevat

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