The first Mishnah of pirkei avos says "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai, and gave it to Yehoshua..." And goes on to say how each person gave it to more people down the line etc.

The question:

Why does it say the location that Moshe got the Torah, at Sinai, instead of specifying from WHOM he got it (Hashem Himself)?

All of the other parts say who received the Torah from whom, but it doesn't mention the location that they received it.

Why not say "Moshe received the Torah from the Holy One, Blessed be He, and gave it to Yehoshua..."?


2 Answers 2


Sinai was the only time in History that there was a mass revelation to over 600,000 people. The event of Sinai establishes the voracity of Torah being God given. So perhaps, by stating that Moshe received the Torah from Sinai it is pointing to the event of the mass revelation that provides the basis for a historical proof that the Torah was given to us from Hashem.

The Ramban actually holds the demonstration of Torah from God is a Mitzvah. I will quote the source when I have more time.

The Bartenurah suggests:

Moshe received the Torah from Sinai: I say: Since this tractate is not founded on the exegesis of commandments from among the Torah’s commandments, like the rest of the tractates which are in the Mishna, but is rather wholly morals and principles, and whereas the sages of the (other) nations of the world have also composed books according to the fabrication of their hearts, concerning moral paths, how a person should behave with his fellow; therefore, in this tractate the tanna began "Moshe received Torah from Sinai," to tell you that the principles and morals which are in this tractate were not fabricated by the hearts of the Mishna’s sages; rather, they too were stated at Sinai.


The Maharal addresses this question:

-To have written that “Moshe received the Torah from God” would have implied that God's ability to transmit Torah was limited specifically to Moshe as the receiver, which was not true.

-When a Rav teaches Torah, the student learns Torah from the Rav, and this creates a bond between them. But saying that Moshe received the Torah from God would imply that Moshe was able to create this kind of bond with God, which is not respectful to the Almighty.

-Even though it does say in the Torah (Exodus 31) that God gave Moshe the Luchot HaEdut, the two “Tablets of Testimony,” and in numerous places “And God spoke to Moshe saying...”, these were specific communiqués, and doesn't imply the bond of Rav to student.

-Moshe's receiving of the Torah from God had a unique quality to it, due to its happening in a designated place, Sinai. A true “receiving” requires the full intention to give on the part of the giver, demonstrated by designating a place for the receiving. Emphasizing that Moshe received the Torah “from Sinai” (not even saying that he received it “from God at Sinai”) shows how integral the place (Sinai) was in the process of Moshe receiving the Torah, making it completely premeditated.

-At Sinai, the process of communication was one where God appeared to be speaking “to Himself” and it was Moshe's responsibility to strive to receive the Torah. The perception was as if Moshe was receiving the Torah “from Sinai” since God was not required to interact with Moshe in the way a normal Rav must interact with his student

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