The G'mara in Y'vamos (ד) and B'rachos (כא) records a dispute over whether laws can be deduced from the fact of two p'sukim appearing adjacent to one another in the Torah.

The Mahara"tz Chayos (Chiyus?) analogizes this dispute to the dispute over whether the Torah was given as a single complete document (adjacencies are informative) or whether it was delivered incrementally over time, each event recorded in writing after it happened, and only later bound together (adjacencies are not informative).

My question is: does this analogy imply that everything that we are to learn from the Torah (at least in the d'rasha sense of 'learning') was available to the Desert Generation?

And, secondarily, was it?


2 Answers 2


There is also an opinion (R' Yitzchak Aizik Halevi, Doros Harishonim) that almost all halachos that seemingly derive from the wording of the Torah (gezeirah shavah, extra letters or words, juxtaposition, etc.) are really strictly oral traditions given by Hashem to Moshe, which our Sages then associated with various pesukim. (In other words, he claims that pretty much all of them are in the nature of an "asmachta.")

According to this view, then, whether the whole Torah had yet been given wouldn't matter as far as understanding the halachos.

  • An asmachta is a derabanan. A halacha l'moshe misinai is deoraisa
    – Joe Shmoe
    Oct 12, 2010 at 21:09
  • 1
    True, I'm using the word "asmachta" loosely: everyone agrees that these halachos are deoraisa, but the question is whether they're actually derived from the verses, or whether they're independent of them. (The halachos called "le-Moshe mi-Sinai" are something else altogether: by definition those have no support in a pasuk.)
    – Alex
    Oct 12, 2010 at 21:17
  • I do not see how the view of the Doros rishonim fits with all of shas and midrash halacha. The gemara is clear in many places that the drashos are real, and there are often consequences of the way things are darshened. Only in rare cases does the gemara say something is just an asmachta, and only then is it not really being learned out from the torah. There were traditions also, but the gemara clearly felt the drashos were real sources in the torah.
    – Ariel K
    Dec 18, 2011 at 17:37
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    @Ariel, true. There is an interesting discussion about this, pro and con, in The Dynamics of Dispute: The Making of Machlokess in Talmudic Times, by R. Zvi Lampel (Judaica Press, 1991), pp. 22-26. In notes 15 and 17 to that chapter, he offers possible sources for DHR's view from Maharal and Ohr Hachayim, and also a possible way in which he might understand statements in the Gemara of the kind you mention. It is true, though, of course, that DHR's opinion is hardly the last word on the subject.
    – Alex
    Dec 19, 2011 at 2:27

I don't know that we can make any implications from the Maharatz Chiyus alone (or Chijes, as your link states.

The Rambam states in his hakdama to mishnayos that all Torah was given with all of its detailed halachos at Sinai, as well as the laws for how to darshan. It doesn't necessarily mean that they knew how each halacha was darshaned, but that yechidim would be able to reconstruct halachos should they be forgotten.

See also menachos 29b where Moshe did not understand why Hashem was "attaching crowns" to the Torah's letters since the remazim were beyond human comprehension (see Maharsha). Hashem showed him R' Akiva who would understand.

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