Early in Parshas Yisro, Yisro noticed that Moshe was answering questions all day long. He asked Moshe about it:

וַיַּרְא֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֵ֛ת כׇּל־אֲשֶׁר־ה֥וּא עֹשֶׂ֖ה לָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֗אמֶר מָֽה־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר אַתָּ֤ה עֹשֶׂה֙ לָעָ֔ם מַדּ֗וּעַ אַתָּ֤ה יוֹשֵׁב֙ לְבַדֶּ֔ךָ וְכׇל־הָעָ֛ם נִצָּ֥ב עָלֶ֖יךָ מִן־בֹּ֥קֶר עַד־עָֽרֶב׃
But when Moses’ father-in-law saw how much he had to do for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the nation stand over you from morning until evening?”

Moshe explains to him,

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְחֹתְנ֑וֹ כִּֽי־יָבֹ֥א אֵלַ֛י הָעָ֖ם לִדְרֹ֥שׁ אֱלֹהִֽים׃ כִּֽי־יִהְיֶ֨ה לָהֶ֤ם דָּבָר֙ בָּ֣א אֵלַ֔י וְשָׁ֣פַטְתִּ֔י בֵּ֥ין אִ֖ישׁ וּבֵ֣ין רֵעֵ֑הוּ וְהוֹדַעְתִּ֛י אֶת־חֻקֵּ֥י הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים וְאֶת־תּוֹרֹתָֽיו׃
Moses replied to his father-in-law, “It is because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one party and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of God.”

You know the rest of the story: Yisro tells Moshe it's too difficult and tells him to set up a hierarchy instead, where most questions go to the Heads of Tens, or Hundreds, etc., and only the hardest questions go up to Moshe.

My question: I realized this week that most people did not understand the original system the same way I did. I had understood (a) that the whole nation stood around [they had nothing better to do anyhow, since they were given mann to eat] and listened to all the questions and all the answers. Everyone was part of a shimush system (see related question here) where they learned the whole Torah from Moshe directly, and got to hear the answer to thousands of diverse questions.
(b) Many others I asked seemed to understand it differently. There was this huge line of people waiting to ask questions of Moshe, each asked his question and got his answer and went home. When you had another question you got in line again. Mostly no one heard anyone else's questions.

I thought that was nuts. What a wasted opportunity for everyone else! And some questions might get asked up to 600,000 times! "Moshe, what's the bracha on a banana? The branches are..." "Borei pri haadmah." "Moshe, what's the bracha on a banana?" "Borei pri haadamah." "Moshe, what's the bra-" "Borei pri haadamah!!"
Plus, the verse brought above, "all the nation stand about you from morning until evening", I think is evidence for (a) if it's taken literally. Why would all the nation be there the whole time? Some of them already got their questions answered. Some perhaps didn't have a question that day.

What do others think? Is there more evidence or arguments for one of the sides? Are there mefarshim who discuss this?


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