Mishna Avos 5:6 - משנה אבות פרק ה משנה ו.

עֲשָׂרָה דְבָרִים נִבְרְאוּ בְּעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן, פִּי הָאָרֶץ, וּפִי הַבְּאֵר, וּפִי הָאָתוֹן, וְהַקֶּשֶׁת, וְהַמָּן, וְהַמַּטֶּה, וְהַשָּׁמִיר, וְהַכְּתָב, וְהַמִּכְתָּב, וְהַלּוּחוֹת. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, אַף הַמַּזִּיקִין, וּקְבוּרָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה, וְאֵילוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, אַף צְבָת בִּצְבָת עֲשׂוּיָה:

Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Shabbat at twilight. And these are they: The mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach in Numbers 16:32]; and the mouth of the well [that accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 21:17]; and the mouth of the donkey [that spoke to Bilaam in Numbers 22:28–30]; and the rainbow [that served as a covenant after the flood in Genesis 9:13]; and the manna [that God provided the Israelites in the wilderness in Exodus 16:4–21]; and the staff [of Moshe]; and the shamir (the worm that helped build the Temple without metal tools); and the letters; and the writing; and the tablets [all of the latter three, of the Ten Commandments]. And some say, also the destructive spirits, and the burial place of Moshe, our teacher, and the ram of Abraham, our father. And some say, also the [first] tongs, made with [Divine] tongs. (The tongs can only be made with other tongs - and [so,] who made the first ones? Perforce they were made by themselves by the hand of Heaven; and they were created at twilight):

Of the 14 things on the list, (10+4), 13 of them seem to have somewhat of a spiritual connection. The last one, "tongs, made with tongs" seems to be no more than a solution to a mundane technical problem. Why is this grouped with the rest of them. How does this fit in with the categorization of this that were created during the twilight before the first Shabbos? (I realize the common denominator of this being one of the things that were created then, but it seems somewhat of an odd member in the group)

  • 1
    It was a popular problem of philosophy at the time, so Chazal gave it a religious spin by tying it to miraculous creation.
    – Shalom
    Jun 28, 2018 at 12:40
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    "And some say, also the [first] tongs, made with [Divine] tongs." This may not affect the question, but I always assumed it meant "And some say also tongs, which have to be made using tongs [and therefore how could they have made the first ones, so Hashem made them miraculously]". Hashem doesn't need to use Divine tongs.
    – Heshy
    Jun 28, 2018 at 12:46
  • @Heshy You may be correct. I just copied & pasted the translation of Sefaria. Actually, I edited it slightly. They had "the [first human made] tongs, made with [Divine] tongs", I took out the words human-made, since they werent human made. Jun 28, 2018 at 12:53
  • @Shalom 1- How do you know this? Is it your own idea? 2- If you know it to be correct, why isn't it in the answer section? 3- That was part of my question. How is this a "religious spin"? just by tying it to miraculous creation, although there is nothing religious about it? Jun 28, 2018 at 12:55
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    "spiritual connection" - Like what? All these items seem like tangible items needed for specific events. Can you explain what you mean, and why tongs seem to be different?
    – DanF
    Jun 28, 2018 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


You've asked a good question. In short, it doesn't fit in with the rest of the group, as it is unconnected with a specific event (though, one could argue that several of the other items such as the luchot aren't either).

I am copying Yishai's answer to my question about this list.

The thing which doesn't really belong on that list, according to those explanations, is tongs. They aren't exceptionally miraculous (you could make the first pair by pouring into a mold). The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the idea of tongs is they are a facilitator to a meaningful act. By Hashem creating those tongs Himself, He granted meaning even to those parts of life that seem to be only means to a holy end. This ability is something granted by the twilight of the first Friday.

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