The commentary of the Rav (R. Ovadya) to Avos chapter 5 "והלחות" reads:

של סנפרינון היו ארכן ששה ורחבן ששה ועבין שלשה כאבן אחת שארכה ורחבה ועביה שוין ונחלקה לשנים ונגללים היו וחצובים מגלגל החמה

They [=the tablets] were of sapphire[?]. Their length was six [handbreadths], their width six, and their thickness three, like one stone whose length, width, and thickness are equal and that's divided into two. They were [???], and were quarried from the sun orb.

I can't translate "ונגללים" (the part I substituted with "[???]"). Anyone know what it means? The word usually means "rolled", as far as I know, but I don't know what that would mean in this context.


1 Answer 1


So there are a few sources that point to the fact that one of the miracles of the luchos were that they could be rolled up (as per your assumption).

Firstly, there is an intriguing פסוק in שיר השירים ה:יד:

יָדָיו֙ גְּלִילֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב מְמֻלָּאִ֖ים בַּתַּרְשִׁ֑ישׁ מֵעָיו֙ עֶ֣שֶׁת שֵׁ֔ן מְעֻלֶּ֖פֶת סַפִּירִֽים׃

His hands are rods of gold, Studded with beryl; His belly a tablet of ivory, Adorned with sapphires. (Translation - Sefaria)

רש"י on the following פסוק analyses this strange choice of word גלילי and writes:

גלילי זהב – אלו הדברות שבהן הנחמדים מזהב ומפז רב, א”ר יהושע בן נחמיה מעשה נסים היו של סנפירינון היו והיו נגללין, ד”א על שם שמגלגלות טובה לעולם

Rashi employs the same description as the Bartenura brings as you mention above. Also note the ילקוט שמעוני on (שיר השירים (פרק ה – רמז תתקצא which uses the same descriptive feature.

The Sokatchover perhaps best helps to actually provide some sort of visualisation of this. He brings down in the שם משמואל in פרשת תשא – שנת תרע”ט the following:

מ”מ י”ל שבסנפורינון שנחצבו מהם הלוחות שהי’ גוף נסיי כבמדרש ששל אבן היו והיו נגללין, והכתב שבלוחות נקראים משני עבריהם ומ”ם וסמ”ך שבלוחות בנס היו עומדים...,

Nevertheless the sapphire that the luchos were hewn from were of miraculous body. Like the Midrash states, that the stone could be rolled up and the script on the tablets could be read from both sides and that the letters 'mem' and the 'samech' that were on the luchos both miraculously existed. (my translation)

I think what he is implying that this sapphire material that the Luchos were made out of was of an essentially G-dly state. It was this Divine-infused material that allowed them to be miraculous in many ways namely, that it could be rolled up, read from both sides etc.

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