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I read:

As Chazal have said, there are six hundred thousand interpretations of every verse of Torah. [Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, Shemirat Lashon I, The Gate of Torah 1:9]

Where does Chazal say that?

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  • It seems to be written quite widely throughout sifrei kabbalah - I saw it in the writings of Rav Chaim Vital, the Chida and also the Megaleh Amukos
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 22:46
  • The Ramchal in Derech Etz Hachayim.
    – N.T.
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 5:02

1 Answer 1

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The Gemara in Brachos 58a writes:

וְאָמַר רַב הַמְנוּנָא: הָרוֹאֶה אוּכְלוּסֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אוֹמֵר: ״בָּרוּךְ … חֲכַם הָרָזִים״. אוּכְלוּסֵי גּוֹיִם, אוֹמֵר: ״בּוֹשָׁה אִמְּכֶם וְגוֹ׳״.

And Rav Hamnuna said: One who sees multitudes of Israel, six hundred thousand Jews, recites: Blessed…Who knows all secrets. One who sees multitudes of gentiles recites: “Your mother shall be sore ashamed, she that bore you shall be confounded; behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert” (Jeremiah 50:12). (Sefaria translation)

The Maharsha in Chiddushei Aggados on the daf explains as follows:

חכם הרזים כו'. למאי דמסיק דאין אוכלוסא פחות מס' רבוא יש בהן ג"כ ששים רבוא דעות מחולקין והוא כלל כל הדעות שע"כ נתנה התורה לס' רבוא במדבר להיות התורה כלולה מכל דעה וחכמה ואין להוסיף עליה ומה שאחז"ל כל מה שמחדש כל חכם בדורו מסיני הוא לפי שזה הדבר כבר היה בדעת אחת מאותן ששים רבוא שהיו בסיני כי אי איפשר שיהיה עוד דעת אחרת על ששים רבוא וק"ל׃

'Who knows all the secrets etc.' - According to that which we conclude that there isn't a multitude if it is less than 600,000, there is in them also 600,000 differing opinions, which includes all opinions. For that's why the Torah was distributed to the 600,000 (people) in the desert to be an all-inclusive Torah from every opinion and wisdom, and do not add to it; as Chazal say, everything that each sage is mechadeish (i.e. comes up with a novel Torah thought) in his generation is from Sinai, for this thing is already according to the mind of one of those 600,000 who were in Sinai, because it is impossible for there to be more opinions than that of the (original) 600,000.

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  • While the Maharsha does suffice as an answer to the question here, I'm not sure your translation properly explicates it. Particularly in the beginning, I don't think he is asking why 600,000 people are necessary for the beracha and answering that it's because there are 6000,000 differing opinions. Rather he is saying that since the Gemara later on the page concludes that a "multitude" must contain 600,000 and since the Beraisa explains that the reason for the beracha is that they all have different opinions, it must be that the Torah can span 600,000 opinions.
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 23:37
  • Thanks @Alex - I'll admit I wasn't so sure of the beginning part. Feel free to edit accordingly. Many thanks for pointing it out!
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 23:39
  • I thought "Chazal" stopped at the Savoraim (~600 CE) and the Maharsha is 17th century. At any rate, his interpretation of the Talmud is a stretch. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 2:06
  • There are no strict rules as to where Chazal starts and ends.
    – N.T.
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 5:03
  • @MauriceMizrahi why is it a stretch?! It makes logical sense
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 9:17

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