[Avodah] What date was the Torah given?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Jan 2 09:28:16 PST 2013

On Wed, Jan 02, 2013 at 04:30:46PM +0000, Akiva Miller wrote:
: R' Micha Berger suggested:
:> ... perhaps the majority of Jews never knew the date. Rosh
:> Chodesh had no halakhos lemaaseh yet, did it? Yes we were
:> already given the mitzvah of "ke-'zeh' re'eih veqadeish". But
:> did the 70 zeqeinim have any motive for sharing the dates of
:> RC Iyyar or Sivan with the masses, or the masses for paying
:> much attention if they did?

: Shtaros? The practice of dating all legal documents seems quite ancient.

Unfortunately I wasn't specific enough.

I mean that at the time of Matan Torah, the masses might not have known
the date. There was no dinei shetaros yet. Think only of mitzvos MRAH
told the Jews about before the end of the 40 days. Did the masses have
any reason to know the calendar date? I presumed in my earlier post that
the Sanhedrin fulfilled the mitzvah of qiddush hachodesh that first Iyyar
and Sivan. (To speak less anachronistically: ... that the 70 seqieinim
fufilled the mitzvah ... that first chodesh sheini and shelishi.) But
it's possible that not too many people knew the date when matan Torah
was occuring, and thus it wasn't well known to be "forgotten" and subject
to machloqes later.

: Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "The Torah Anthology" gives exact dates for many
: events. For example, the birthdates of Gad and Asher appear in Vol 3
: on page 71. (See his notes for his sources.) It seems clear to me that
: some sort of lunar calendar was in use -- even if there was no halachic
: significance to it -- and that these dates were known and passed down
: to later generations.

And if all you quote is Seder Olam, rather than any dissenting opinions
among other tannaim and amoraim, it would look like the date of Matan
Torah were also open-and-shut and well known.

RZL's "The Dynamics of Dispute" focuses on machloqesin in halakhah,
not in history. So I'm not sure he fully addresses RMBluke's question.

As for "some sort of lunar calendar" in use before parashas Bo, there
are also the dates for various events of the Mabul -- Bereishis 7:11,
8:4,5,14. I assumed, though, that dates before HQBH handed Benei Yisrael
control of the luach, there was an objective and automatic definition
of these dates. If dates were exclusively al pi re'iyah when the Torah
was given, it's meaningless to say what some ancient date was or would
have been.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             In the days of our sages, man didn't sin unless
micha at aishdas.org        he was overcome with a spirit of foolishness.
http://www.aishdas.org   Today, we don't do a mitzvah unless we receive
Fax: (270) 514-1507      a spirit of purity.      - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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