Midreshet Amit


Back to Main Page

Parshat Yitro

By: Rabbi Simi Sherman

The Gemara in Makkot explains that Hashem personally delivered the first 2 of the Ten Commandments, whereas Moshe presented the remaining 8 to the Jewish people. The question is why would Hashem have to personally deliver both the first and the second of the Ten Commandments? It is logical for Hashem to give the first commandment- Anochi Hashem Elokecha, I am the Lord your G-d. It would seem somewhat strange for Moshe to present this commandment and to say 'I am the Lord your G-d'. However what is so unique about the second commandment- You May not Worship any other G-d- that requires Hashem to deliver this message personally? Why couldn't Moshe teach Bnei Yisrael about the prohibition of Idol Worship just as he functioned as an intermediary between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael for the other 611 Mitzvot?

The Rambam, while discussing the laws pertaining to Idol Worship, explains that initially Idol Worship was never meant to replace Hashem. Rather, those who began worshiping the sun, the moon, and the stars were simply looking for a vehicle to reach Hashem. They believed in Hashem as the one G-d. But, they also believed that they needed some intermediary to help carry their prayers to Him. They believed that they were unable to reach Him directly.

Rav Dovid Bagno explains that this is the reason why Hashem gave this commandment personally. He wanted to make it clear to this generation- and all future generations- that just as he personally delivered the prohibition of worshipping other gods, similarly he is personally available and reachable to anyone who reaches for Him. There is really no need for Idols, because Hashem avails himself to all who call Him. This message of closeness needed to be delivered personally to help highlight its veracity. The positive take away from the prohibition of Avodah Zara is that one need not look for artificial bridges to carry our prayers to Hashem. Hashem is available to each and every person and relates to each person individually.

he Sforno explains this with an analogy. If a king sends a messenger to a far off town it is proper for the towns' people to accord this messenger with the same respect they would show the king himself. Through the messenger the towns' people are honoring the king, as the messenger is functioning as a representative of the king. But, if the king himself accompanies the messenger to this town, it would be a direct slight to the king's honor to show the messenger this high level of respect right in from of the king. When the king is in the room- you honor him, not his servants.

Hashem, the King of Kings, is always in the room and always makes Himself accessible to each of us on a personal level; one need only to reach for Him genuinely and with sincerity. It is, therefore, very logical that Hashem personally delivered this message to The Jewish people and did not allow Moshe to act as His trusted intermediary. He wanted to demonstrate this closeness by personally presenting this lesson to Bnei Yisrael.