Halachos are spread throughout the Torah. Many times the Gemara uses pesukim that are scattered all around to figure out the true application of pesukim. So if, for example, we only had the section about topic X that was discussed in one place, we wouldn't have the correct picture because we need to take into account things said in another place. Also, the Torah tells us that Moshe said "These words" to the Jews--thus implying that those were the actual words he taught.

My question is that in the Torah it seems like some of the halachik sections are very separate from each other. For example, things that were given in Egypt. There are several sections about the moadim. A whole bunch of halachos are taught in Devarim right before entering Eretz Yisrael.

How did they learn the correct halacha before they had all the pieces of the puzzle?

  • 1
    Where does it say ""These words"?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 16:50
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38772/759
    – Double AA
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 16:54
  • @DoubleAA-I don't have a chumash with me, but I do beleive there are times it says "devarim ha'eileh". But I would also read the truly ubiquitous "leimor-to say" in this way. Additionally, I recently saw (I can look it up in the sefer next week iyh) that someone explains that Nadav and Avihu's sin was a based on a mistaken drasha, which I think also implies specific word usage.
    – user14878
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 17:09
  • 1
    "devarim ha'eileh" is "these things"
    – Double AA
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 17:10
  • According to Rambam the 13 exegetical principles are generally used to fill in gaps that result from uncertainty, or to generate new rules. The derashot arent the original sources don't go "all the way back". Accordingly, there would be no question. | Similarly, the Geonim, such as Rav Saadya Gaon are of the opinion that the dersahot in general are merely support for extant traditions. Accordingly, there is similarly no question; they had the traditions even before the verses that would later serve as support for the traditions.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 17:17

1 Answer 1



Behar 25:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל משֶׁה בְּהַר סִינַי לֵאמֹר:


on Mount Sinai: What [special relevance] does the subject of Shemittah [the “release” of fields in the seventh year] have with Mount Sinai? Were not all the commandments stated from Sinai? However, [this teaches us that] just as with Shemittah, its general principles and its finer details were all stated from Sinai, likewise, all of them were stated-their general principles [together with] their finer details-from Sinai. This is what is taught in Torath Kohanim (25:1). [And why is Shemittah used as the example to prove this rule, especially since the very fine details are not even specified here (Sefer Hazikkaron)?] It appears to me that its explanation is as follows: [At the plains of Moab, Moses reiterated the majority of the laws of the Torah to the Israelites before their entry into the land of Israel, this reiteration comprising most of the Book of Deuteronomy. Now,] since we do not find the laws of Shemittah [“release”] of land reiterated on the plains of Moab in Deuteronomy, we learn that its general principles, finer details, and explanations were all stated at Sinai. Scripture states this [phrase] here to teach us that [just as in the case of Shemittah,] every statement [i.e., every commandment] that was conveyed to Moses came from Sinai, [including] their general principles and finer details [and that the commandments delineated in Deuteronomy were merely] repeated and reviewed on the plains of Moab [not originally given there].

The question the OP is asking applies only in the desert, as the entire Torah had been written by the time they entered the land.

Thus, the question would be about any question that is brought up in the desert as i explain below. It is not only a question that is answered in different parts of the Torah, but questions that exist before the command is written.

Moshe Rabbeinu was taught the whole torah. He told parts to Bnei Yisrael as needed and as commanded. Much of what he said was not written down. The word לאמר is a command to repeat the command and to put the words into the torah. I deal with this question at B'nos Tzelofchad, Yerushah and "Nitnah Torah V'Nitchadshah Halacha"

As an example of this case, I explain

According to the Art Scroll Bava Basrah 110b1 note 9. נתנה תורה ונתחדשה הלכה means that even after the tora was given at הר סיני, Moshe Rabbeinu had not yet explained that area of halacha to Bnei Yisrael. Technically then, Bnai Yisrael did not know the full halacha. An analogy can be brought to the halacha of פסח שני which was not told to בני ישראל until after some of the people could not bring the קרבן פסח the following year.

Thus, we can say that

Historically the daughters of Tzelaphchad stated their claim before the laws of inheritance were handed down. Thus perhaps it was later revealed that when both a son and a daughter survive the deceased, the estate is divided between them (Rashbam)

Although the Torah states that Hashem concurred with the words of the daughters of Tzelaphchad, this merely indicates that their general claim was just. It does not prove that all their underlying assumptions were correct. Thus, it is possible that the daughters were mistaken in assuming that had there been a son, they would have received nothing. See also Tosfos to 119b ד"ה אילו

Another point is that incidents in the torah did not happen until the time they were written. The halacha would have been given at Har Sinai, but the incidents that caused Moshe Rabbeinu to write about particular halachos (and explain them to Bnai Yisrael) did not occur until later when they were required.

A similar point is that all halchos were established from the beginning by Hashem. In many cases, any drasha that might be made, such as with a gzeirah shave would only reestablish a halacha that is already known from the mesorah. The chachamim use these drashot to enable them to remember or recover the halachot that Mosh Rabbeinu was taught.

For example, we see from Tosfos in Succah 31a ור"י סבר לא מקשינן לולב לאסרוג

דאין דן אלא למדה מרבו

we do not learn a gzeirah shave unless there is a mesorah.

  • Har Sinai isn't necessarily early enough. All of the halachos of shechita, mumin (at least for animals), and eidus were already needed in Egypt, in addition to the obvious kiddush hachodesh, milah, and korban pesach. Plus a few miscellaneous pieces like some shiurim (kezayis) and zemanim. There are probably more that I'm not thinking of.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 12:59
  • The point was that the OP is asking about why the Torah does not write about those halachos that must have been given at Har Sinai until later. @Heshy Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 13:09
  • @sabbahillel You might want to clarify what it means that Moshe “taught” or “said”, etc the Torah, like is explained by the Gra at the end of Aderet Eliyahu. And the importance of the writing on his staff. Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 12:00

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