Please feel free to edit the question to clarify and elaborate it.

In numerous occasions, from the story of the Plagues of Exodus through wandering in the wilderness to his last gathering of Bnei Israel, Moses demonstrated two distinct types of leadership:

  1. A Leader - Independent and decisive: (sort of "לא בשמים היא") taking responsibility to decide alone on acting or ruling a Halacha. For example, Moses appointing 77'000 Sarim after Yitro's advice.

  2. A Prophet of Hashem's word - dependent and indecisive: (sort of "בשמים היא") Moses turns to Hashem to seek advice or Halachah, like in Bnot Zlofechad case.

I could not spot a pattern when he chooses a certain way over another, it looks inconsistent to me. Hence the question:

In what cases does Moses decide to act or rule Halacha on his own and when he decides to consult Hashem?

  • I see that you asked a later question that questions this one. In this one, you assume that Moshe did not ask for advice, but then you question if he did. While there's no M.Y. policy against doing this, but, I might suggest that you temporarily delete this question until you get an answer that confirms that Moshe did not actually ask for advice or get G-d's approval. Keep in mind that there are many things omitted from the Torah. Just because the Torah does not state something, is not proof that it didn't happen. Another option is to delete the aspect of Yitro and generalize this question.
    – DanF
    Feb 5, 2018 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


(Sort of related: Shadal to Shemos 18:24 explains that Hashem did not tell him to do this, because the other arrangement was crucial to the nation trusting Moshe in first place.)

The answer according to almost everyone is that he did ask Hashem in this case as well.

Shadal is the only one that I found who seems to positively (even partially) imply that he did not ask Hashem. However, a few Mefarshim don't make mention of him asking Hashem in any of the places mentioned here, such as Rashbam, RDZ Hoffman, see also Or Hachaim. Although according to them, they understand these Pesukim to mean that Hashem will support Moshe in doing this, which is like asking Hashem. Also, we must take into account that it's a strong possibility that this was after Matan Torah, and perhaps the commandments about judges, which would also imply that Hashem agreed without him directly asking.

We can also explain more simply that this was not a change at all to any Halacha or otherwise, it was simply a suggestion for a new system.

Also, we can say that there was no other option - he wasn't able to continue like this at all, so he just did it. Think of it this way - did he ask Hashem if he could sleep when he was tired, or if he could eat when he was hungry?

  • 1
    Re your last sentence - It's clear that each of the 3 times that he was on Mt. Sinai, not only did he not ask G-d, but he didn't even do it!
    – DanF
    Feb 5, 2018 at 20:54
  • I've asked OP to generalize this question, as the body doesn't match the title. Mentioning this as you may want to include something that addresses all situations, if you find that info.
    – DanF
    Feb 5, 2018 at 20:56
  • I was serious. Even Har Sinai is earth, but, I am aware that this was a special situation.
    – DanF
    Feb 5, 2018 at 22:26
  • @DanF Sorry for choosing that tone to respond in, I didn't take you that seriously, and I apologize for that. I deleted my old comment and am replacing it. Feb 5, 2018 at 22:49
  • @DanF 1. I'm talking about "on earth", not when he was with Hashem. Aderaba, from the fact that the Torah makes note of it then implies that was not the regular case. 2. Thanks, I'll look around to see if I can find some sources about the concept in general. Feb 5, 2018 at 22:50

Rav Hirsch explains that unlike Rashi and Rashbam as cited by @רבות מחשבות at Yitroh's Advise to Moses - did Hashem agree? is the way in which it would properly allow Moshe Rabbeinu to receive the commands from Hashem and allow the people to receive them and understand them.

Rav Hirsch translates Yisro 18:23

אִ֣ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה וְצִוְּךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְיָֽכׇלְתָּ֖ עֲמֹ֑ד וְגַם֙ כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה עַל־מְקֹמ֖וֹ יָבֹ֥א בְשָׁלֽוֹם׃

If thou doest this, then Hashem can give thee His Commands and thou shalt be able to endure; and all this people too, each one in peace shall come to his befitting position.

Rav Hirsch, says that this will then allow everyone to

arrive at the place and position to which they are really meant to come.

The reason for this is

That this really expresses the whole true work of a judge, viz. to direct everybody and everything to the standpoint and place it should occupy, to bring them there, and establish it or them securely on it.

Thus, instead of needing an explicit commandment, this is the best way to implement the commands already received and to set up the system of justice that Hashem had commanded already.

  • Interesting, "they are really meant to come" means "everybody and everything", so you (based on R"H) imply that that was the divine plan? This contradicts what we know from Eruvin "תנו רבנן כיצד סדר המשנה? משה למד מפי הגבורה, נכנס אהרן ושנה לו משה פרקו... נכנסו בניו ושנה להם משה פרקן... נכנסו זקנים ושנה להם משה פרקן... נכנסו כל העם ושנה להם משה פרקן" I don't recall where Moses was teaching Sarei Meot or Sarei Asarot?
    – Al Berko
    Feb 6, 2018 at 19:52
  • @AlBerko The case in Eruvin was how Moshe Rabbeinu taught the halachos to B'nai Yisrael. This situation is how people went to court when there was a dispute or problem in the application of those halachos. Feb 7, 2018 at 1:09

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