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rabbigoldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

The episode of מתן תורה concludes with the famous expression “נעשה ונשמע—we will do and [then] we will hear.” However, in the Torah it is not written alongside מתן תורה in פרשת יתרו but rather later on in פרשת משפטים. Why did the Torah place almost all of פרשת משפטים, with its dozens of dinim, between the narration of מתן תורה in פרשת יתרו and the conclusion of מתן תורה at the end of פרשת משפטים?

We know that אם אין דרך ארץ אין תורה , if there is no derech eretz, there can be no Torah—and vice versa. פרשת יתרו represents Torah; פרשת משפטים, which teaches the halochos of בין אדם לחברו, represents derech eretz. פרשת משפטים lays the groundwork for the culmination of the story of Kabbolas HaTorah. It is only after פרשת משפטים that we can move on to complete the story of מתן תורה.

Rabbi Yissocher Frand explains that the narrative is written in this sequence to teach us that had there not been Torah (פרשת יתרו), there could never have been derech eretz (the civil laws in פרשת משפטים). And without derech eretz, without being a mensch, and knowing how to take care of our fellow man, one cannot possess Torah. Not only is דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה, derech eretz stems from the Torah!

Infusing the lesson of דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה to our talmidim is one of our primary goals. From the moment they walk in the door, to tefillah, to Chumash, to parshah lessons, to the Gemara shiurim in Seder Nezikin, the talmidim and talmidos are constantly reminded that one cannot be a talmid chochom or bas Yisroel without being a mensch.

Gut Shabbos,
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School

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