Nothing in the Torah is superfluous. So, when there are repetitions, our Sages explain why the repetition is necessary. But there is one very frequent instance where I could find no explanation for the repetition. We often read:

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ or וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר

And the Lord said to Moses, saying: ___ [E.g.: Ex. 13:1, Numbers 13:1, 27:6, etc.]

Why the repetition "said" and "saying"?

This can't be explained by a quirk in biblical Hebrew, because in other places the phrase is straightforward, with no repetition, e.g., וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה -- and the Lord said to Moses [Ex. 34:1]

  • Ramban comments on it in its first usage Jan 29, 2023 at 16:08
  • Why does לאמר translate as 'saying'?
    – Double AA
    Jan 29, 2023 at 16:25
  • Both of you guys tell me. Jan 29, 2023 at 16:34
  • @TheKugelMan -- Looks like the Ramban is saying that when "lemor" is added, God is saying "I really mean it this time". He didn't quite mean it at other times? Unconvincing. Here is your reference: sefaria.org/… Jan 29, 2023 at 20:12
  • I believe he understands it to reference God really speaking to Moses and not simply hinting through dreams or hallucinations. This is why it is primarily used with Regards to Moshe who as is known typicallly communicated with his god in that manner. Jan 29, 2023 at 20:39

2 Answers 2


The Gemara in Yoma 4b explains one possible reason for this. I have copy/pasted from Sefaria, with Steinsaltz commentary in between:

״וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר״, לָמָּה הִקְדִּים קְרִיאָה לְדִיבּוּר? לִימְּדָה תּוֹרָה דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אָדָם דָּבָר לַחֲבֵירוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קוֹרֵהוּ. מְסַיַּיע לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי חֲנִינָא. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: לֹא יֹאמַר אָדָם דָּבָר לַחֲבֵירוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קוֹרֵהוּ. ״לֵאמֹר״, אָמַר רַבִּי (מוּסְיָא בַּר בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי מַסְיָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי מוּסְיָא) רַבָּה: מִנַּיִין לָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר לַחֲבֵירוֹ שֶׁהוּא בְּבַל יֹאמַר עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לוֹ: לֵךְ אֱמוֹר — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר״.

The verse says: “And He called unto Moses, and the Lord spoke unto him from within the Tent of Meeting, saying” (Leviticus 1:1). Why does the verse mention calling before speaking, and God did not speak to him at the outset? The Torah is teaching etiquette: A person should not say anything to another unless he calls him first. This supports the opinion of Rabbi Ḥanina, as Rabbi Ḥanina said: A person should not say anything to another unless he calls him first. With regard to the term concluding the verse: “Saying,” Rabbi Musya, grandson of Rabbi Masya, said in the name of Rabbi Musya the Great: From where is it derived with regard to one who tells another some matter, that it is incumbent upon the latter not to say it to others until the former explicitly says to him: Go and tell others? As it is stated: “And the Lord spoke to him from within the Tent of Meeting, saying [lemor].”

In short: Hashem adds "lemor" at the end as a permission and instruction for Moshe to go ahead and pass on the information to the Jewish people.

  • If so, then in the more numerous instances where lemor is not added, we should conclude that there is no permission to pass on that information. This does not seem to be the case, Jan 30, 2023 at 14:50
  • @MauriceMizrahi the example you gave in the question was a personal instruction for Moshe. Do you have any examples where Hashem told Moshe something to relate to the people where "lemor" is not said?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 30, 2023 at 14:59
  • This might answer your question? sefaria.org/…
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 30, 2023 at 15:02
  • Sure: Lev. 21:1: And the LORD said unto Moses: Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֱמֹ֥ר אֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים בְּנֵ֣י אַהֲרֹ֑ן . Or Ex. 20:19. Jan 30, 2023 at 15:06
  • @MauriceMizrahi these have statements of instruction to tell the people: in Lev 21:1 "וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם", Ex 20:19 " כֹּ֥ה תֹאמַ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל". Any examples that simply say "Hashem said to Moshe" and no instruction to relate the information, but it's clear the information was meant to be related?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 30, 2023 at 15:08

This might or might not answer your question and is being written for someone who is into Torah codes.

If you are knowledgeable in mathematics/ statistics etc AND believe in the concept of the Torah codes, you will see that the redundancy that is present in words repeating themselves helps maintain the coded words in the text.

  • If that somehow justified redundancy in Torah, half of Gemara would be unnecessary, and Rashi would never have said איני יודע מה מלמדנו.
    – shmosel
    Jan 30, 2023 at 22:14
  • @shmosel My statement is still valid because the Torah has numerous facets. Also , there are times when Rashi says how he doesn't know what a certain means. Anyway, my statement was made towards people who believe in Torah codes. Jan 31, 2023 at 1:04

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