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Hashem will set him aside for evil from among all the tribes of Israel, like all the oaths of the covenant that is written in this book of the Torah (Devarim 29:20).
Commenting on this posuk, Rashi notes that the Hebrew word used by the Torah for “this” is the masculine word “zeh.” However back in parshas Ki Savo towards the conclusion of the tochacha the posuk says, “Even any illness and any blow that is not written in the book of this Torah, Hashem will bring upon you until you are destroyed (Devarim 28:61). There, the Hebrew word used by the Torah for “this” is the feminine “zoes.” Rashi explains that in our posuk the masculine zeh refers back to the word book which is also masculine. However, in parshas Ki Savo the word zoes refers back to the “Torah” which is feminine. Thus in each posuk the Torah chose which noun it wished to emphasize, i.e., either Sefer or Torah, and selected the correct gender word for “this.”
However, we may still ask why in parshas Ki Savo is the emphasis on the word Torah whereas here the emphasis is on the word Sefer?
We are familiar with the concept that the Torah is divided into two parts, the written Torah and the oral Torah. Each of the two complement one another. We may suggest that the posuk’s emphasis of the word “Torah” in parshas Ki Savo refers to the oral Torah. Indeed, the posuk there speaks about punishment “that is not written in the book of this Torah” alluding to the oral Torah that was not transmitted in the written form. In our parsha we may suggest that the emphasis of sefer refers to the written Torah which is recorded in a book. In the big picture of things we are being warned that there are two types of punishment that will befall us if we fail to keep the Torah, a punishment for the oral Torah and a punishment for the written Torah.
It is noteworthy that the Hebrew term used to refer to a Torah scroll is “Sefer Torah.” We may ask, what is the primary word in this term? Is it the “Torah” or “Sefer?” If we answer Torah, then the term would be translated as “The Torah that is recorded in the book.” If we answer sefer then the term would be translated as “the Book which records the words of the Torah.” Each expression conveys a different emphasis.
Thus we may derive that the two expressions are equal and prominent in their own right. The above posukim relate that there is a Sefer HaTorah Hazeh and Sefer HaTorha Hazoes. In each posuk the Torah emphasizes one of the two words thus indicating they are both equal. This refers to the dual nature of the Torah, The oral Torah and the written Torah.
The Gemara (Bava Basra 14a) records that all holy books are rolled from their beginning to their end. However a Torah scroll shall be rolled to the middle. This is interpreted to mean that all holy books are put on one pole and rolled in their entirety from beginning to end. However, a Torah scroll is put on two poles. The front of the book is put on one pole and rolled forward and the end of the book is put on the second pole and rolled backwards. They meet in the middle. We may ask why is a Sefer Torah different than other books which are rolled on one pole? We may suggest that this is to convey the dual nature of the Sefer Torah. A Sefer Torah is not just a Sefer that records the words of the Torah. It is also not just the Torah that is put in book form. It is both a Sefer and a Torah. It is a Sefer HaTorah Hazeh and a Sefer HaTorha Hazoes. It represents two concepts, the oral Torah and the written Torah. To convey this concept the Torah is rolled on two poles thus giving it the appearance of two books. Yet, they meet in the center. This conveys that they are inseparable one from one another. The interpretation of the written Torah may only be found in the oral Torah and all the words of the oral Torah are alluded to in the written Torah.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5763/2003