Torah and Sefer Torah

Rav Meir Simchah haKohein miDevinskzt”l writes in the Meshech Chokhmah on Devarim 28:61:

גַּם כָּל חֳלִי וְכָל מַכָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא כָתוּב בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת, יַעְלֵם ה עָלֶיךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ

Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in this Seifer Torah, Hashem will raised against you until you are destroyed.

Look into Rashi on Parashas Nitzavim. For the tipechah [a pausal trope mark] is under “beseifer” [the book], and the “hazos” [this] is on “haTorah” [the Torah]. That is why it [zos] is in the feminine. (And see there.) Therefore it says “And Yehoshua wrote these things the the seifer Toras E-lokim” on the last eight verses, from “Vayamas Moshe.” It is so that [we can learn that] the death of the righteous is to protect the generation, like Moshe, it is written in the seifer Torah. But it is not Torah itself. After Moshe died there is no more Torah, like it says , “Remember the Torah of Moshe”, and it is an article of faith among the 13 articles.

The truth is that I didn’t set out to blog this part of the MC. However, I thought it was just too fascinating of a thought to elide. According to Rav Meir Simchah, the concept of seifer Torah refers to more than the Torah. The Torah is that which Hashem gave us via Moshe. We can only get Torah through Moshe, as per the Rambam’s article of faith. However, there is an opinion that the last eight verses of Devarim, which discuss Moshe’s death, couldn’t possibly be written by Moshe — that would be too similar to having Moshe lie. Instead they were transmitted via Yehoshua. We are obligated to include in the scroll, in the seifer Torah, not only the Torah but those eight verses as well, to teach us a lesson about how to relate to the death of a tzadiq. His proof is a grammatical point first made by Rashi. The three words in question are “בְּסֵ֖פֶר הַתּוֹרָ֣ה הַזֹּ֑את”, which if we parse as per the trope, becomes “which are not written in the book, this Torah”. And it must be parsed this way, because “Torah” is a feminine noun, “seifer” is masculine, and “hazos” can thus only refer to “Torah” without the “seifer“. Anyway, now on to what I did intend to blog about… in the next post.

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