Talmud Megilla 21a discusses two conflicting verses about how Moses acted when on Mt. Sinai. The verses are (the full verses are in the margin of the linked Talmud page, mentioned above):

Devarim 9:9 (My loose translation) "When I arose on the mountain to get the stone tablets of the covenant that G-d made with you. I sat in the mountain 40 days and 40 nights not eating or drinking."

Devarim 10:10 "And I stood in the mountain as during the first days - 40 days and 40 nights. G-d listened to me this time too and did not want to destroy you."

Rav resolves the conflict (one verse says "standing" and the other verse says "sitting") by stating that when one learnes something new, he should stand. When one reviews what he learns, he should sit.

My question - Rav's reasoning seems reversed if we understand the events of the two verses cited. In the first verse, where Moses mentions that he sat on the mountain, he was actually learning something new, as this was talking about receiving the first set of tablets. He was learning the laws the first time.

The 2nd verse, Moses was receiving the 2nd set of tablets, so, in a sense, he was reviewing what he already learned. There it says that he was standing.

How do we resolved how Rav learned (and said) his statements when the logic seems reversed?

  • In general if no one asks a question, then one needs to consider whether there is an obvious answer. No one in the Bar-Ilan database asks the question (AFAIK). The simple answer would seem to be that presumably Moshe learned many things on the mountain. According to Rav there was a cycle of standing and sitting. Since it is a cycle, the sitting both precedes and follows the standing.Furthermore, this is derash, not peshat. (If anyone would ask the question my bet would be on a recent Acharon).
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 1:45
  • 1
    @mevaqesh Maharsha is about 400 years ago. Not so recent.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 4:12
  • Recent is subjective, he's not a gaon or rishon, but excellent find.not that it substantially affects mt comment.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 6:05

1 Answer 1


Maharsha points this out. He says even though the pasuk which mentions sitting is by the first luchos and the pasuk which mentions standing is by the second ones, even still the implications are to apply what is written by one to the other being that it is written by the second 'like the days of the first'.

מ׳מ משמע להו ליתן את האמור בזה לזה מדכתיב באחרונות כימים הראשונים דברים, י׳ י׳.

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