Thursday, July 19, 2012

Say little, Do much


"Gd, too, said little and performed much, as in, 'And Gd said to Avram: Know that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, who will work them and oppress them for four hundred years. I will judge (דן) that nation, too, and then they will leave with great wealth.'

"Gd only said this with the [two] letters דן, but when He punished the Jews' enemies He did it with 72 letters, as in, 'Has Gd ever taken a nation from within a nation with signs - symbols, wonders and great, awesome deeds!'"

(Avot d'Rabbi Natan 1:13)

המצפה לישועה,


  1. I'm not 100% sure how this beraisa works. After all, we're not directly comparing what Hashem promised to what He did to fulfill that promised. We are comparing the number of words. The two sides of the comparison is how Hashem described His promise and how Hashem described its fulfillment. Both sides are description, "say", not "do".

    To really prove its point, wouldn't the beraisa have to compare how the Written Torah describes what Hashem did vs. how much more we know He did from eye-witnesses accounts passed down in the Oral Torah?

  2. Hi R' Micha,

    I think this is actually even more challenging because the 72 letter count does not seem to work, no matter how one reads the pasuk - with or without the ellipsized words. (Although some combination of חסרות and יתירות might work.) Also, why stop at 72? There are many, much longer accounts available in the Torah!

    When I used this in a shiur, I wondered if it wasn't meant to refer to the 72-letter Name of Gd. First Gd described Himself as דן, and then He acted with the 72-letter Name. That's just speculation, though.