"ויענו כל העם יחדו ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ה' נעשה"
“And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that G‑d has spoken we will do.’ ” (Shemot 19:8)

QUESTION: Each individual Jew should have responded “e’eseh” — “I will do.” Why did they all answer in the plural, “na’aseh”“we will do”?

ANSWER: When the Jews heard about the Torah and realized its beauty and importance, each individual took upon himself not only to observe it, but also to be responsible for all other Jews doing so. Each one responded in the plural “na’aseh,” meaning “I will do, and also see to it that other Jews will do.”

This may be an additional source for the Talmudic dictum “Kol Yisrael areivin zeh lazeh” — “Each Jew is a guarantor for his fellow” (Shavuot 39a).

(חידושי הרי"ם)


"ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ה' נעשה ונשמע"
“And they said, ‘Everything that Hashem has said, we will do and we will hear.’” (Shemot 24:7)

QUESTION: In Parshat Mishpatim it says that the Jews replied “Na’aseh venishma” — “We will do and we will hear,” and in Yitro it is written, — “And the people answered together, ‘All that G‑d has spoken, na’aseh — we will do’ ” (19:8).

1) Why is the word “nishma” —hear (study) — not mentioned?

2) Why in Parshat Yitro is there no mention that they responded “yachdav” — “together”?

ANSWER: It is really impossible for every Jew on his own to fulfill all the 613 mitzvot. Some mitzvot can only be performed by a King, others only by a Kohen, etc. Nevertheless, there are ways for every Jew to receive credit for the fulfillment of all the 613 mitzvot:

1) Through a person’s learning about the mitzvot, it is considered as though he performed them (Menachot 110a).

2) When the Jews are united, they are considered one entity. Thus, through unity, they fulfill all the mitzvot and share the rewards.

Therefore, in Parshat Mishpatim, since it says, “na’aseh” — “we will do” — and also “nishma” — “we will hear” — which means to study and learn about the mitzvot, each Jew on his own can do “kol asher diber Hashem”“everything which Hashem has spoken.” However, in Parshat Yitro where only “na’aseh” — “we will do” — is mentioned and not “nishma,” which means hearing and learning, fulfilling everything G‑d commands is only possible through “yachdav” — togetherness and unity.

(פרדס יוסף)


"ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ה' נעשה ונשמע"
“And they said, ‘Everything that Hashem has said, we will do and we will hear.’” (24:7)

QUESTION: Why when Yiddish speaking Jews meet, does one says to the other “Vas machts du?” — lit. “What are you making?” or “Vas tust du” — lit. “What are you doing?” or “Vas hert zich?” lit. “What is being heard?”

ANSWER: When Hashem offered the Torah to the Jewish people, their immediate response was “Na’aseh venishma” — “We will do and we will hear.”

Grammatically, everyone should have responded in the singular, “A’aseh ve’eshma” — “I will do and I will hear.” They responded in the plural to indicate that in addition to their own doing and listening, they would see to it that other Jews would also do and hear. This is in accordance with what the Gemara (Shevuot 39a) states “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh” — “All Jews are responsible one for another.”

Hence, when Jews meet, one asks the other “Vas machts du? or “Vas tust du? Since we told Hashem “na’aseh” (we will make/do) and since we are also responsible for each other, one Jew asks another if he is fulfilling his pledge of doing and making what a Jew is supposed to do and make in regard to Torah and mitzvot.

Similarly, since the Jews said “nishma” — “we will hear” — and one is responsible to look after the other, we ask, “Vas hert zich?” — “Are you hearing and listening to the words of Hashem?”

(שמעתי מהרב שמעון הלוי שי' רייטשיק)


"עלת תמיד העשיה בהר סיני לריח ניחח אשה לה'"
“It is the continual elevation-offering that was done at Mount Sinai, for a satisfying aroma, a fire-offering to Hashem.” (Bamidbar 28:6)

QUESTION: What is the connection between the daily offering of a lamb and Mount Sinai?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Pesachim 57a) relates that once a king and queen of the Hasmonean family were discussing which meat is tastier, lamb or goat. They decided to ask the Kohen Gadol, who would most probably know since he was offering sacrifices continuously. They consulted the High Priest Yissachar of the village of Barkai, who gestured contemptuously with his hand as if to say, “If goat is better, why isn’t it used for the daily sacrifice?”

Why, actually, was the lamb chosen over the goat as a daily sacrifice?

The explanation may be the following: According to halachah, an animal is considered fully born once the entire head emerges. If only part of the head emerges, it is still considered unborn, and if it is a firstborn it is permissible to blemish it to avoid having to give it to the Kohen. In the Gemara (Bechorot 35a) Rava says that a goat has very long ears and as his head emerges the ears are seen first and it is permissible to blemish it before the entire head emerges. When a lamb is born, its lips are seen first and therefore it is also permissible to blemish them. However, the ears are small and are not seen until the entire head emerges.

When Hashem offered the Jewish people the Torah they immediately responded “Na’aseh ve’nishma” — “We will do and we will listen.” The Gemara (Shabbat 88a) relates that a heretic once said to Rava, “You are an impulsive people. You put your mouth before your ears.”

Rava replied, “We are a trustworthy people of whom it says, ‘The integrity of the upright shall guide them’. Of corrupt people it says, ‘The perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them’ ” (Proverbs 11:3).

The pasuk connects the continual-offering of a lamb with Mount Sinai to indicate that since the lamb’s lips emerge before its ears; therefore, it has been selected as the daily continual-offering to emphasize the praise of the Jewish people, who at Mount Sinai put their mouth before their ears.

(מנחת יצחק עה"ת להרב יצחק יעקב ז"ל ווייס)


כל אשר דבר ה' נעשה ונשמע
Everything that Hashem has said we will do and we will listen-study. (Shemot 24:7)

QUESTION: Why did the Jews say first “na’aseh” — “we will do” and then “nishma” — “we will listen-study”?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 2b) explains that the pasuk “He shone forth to them from Seir, He appeared from Mount Paran” (Devarim 33:2) means that first Hashem proposed to the children of Eisav (who lived in Seir — Bereishit 36:8) that they accept the Torah and they refused. Afterwards, He went to the children of Yishmael (they lived in Paran — Bereishit 21:21) to accept the Torah and they refused.

The word “Eisav” (עשו) is related to the word asiyah (עַשִיָה) which means doing (action). The word “Yishmael” (ישמעאל) is related to the words “shama E-l” (שמע א-ל) — listening to G‑d. In reality, Eisav, who was first approached by Hashem, and whose name denotes “doing” refused to do — i.e. perform the commands of Hashem written in the Torah. Then Yishmael, the second to be approached by Hashem, and whose name connotes “listening to Hashem” refused to “listen” to His Torah.

Hence, the Jewish rectified this iniquity by proclaiming “Unlike Eisav and Yishmael who defied the significance of their names and refused to do and listen, na’aseh venishma — we will do and listen, (study) all the words Hashem has spoken in the Torah.”

(אהבת דוד להחיד"א דרוש ט"ז בשם תורת חיים ועי' בפתח עינים על ע"ז דף ב'ע"ב)


"ויאמר ה' מסיני בא וזרח משעיר למו הופיע מהר פארן ואתא מרבבות קדש מימינו אש דת למו"
He said “Hashem came from Sinai and He shone forth to them from Seir, He appeared from Mount Paran and He came with myriads of the holy – from His right hand He presented a fire of law to them.” (Devarim 31:2)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 2b) relates that before giving the Torah to the Jewish people, Hashem offered it to the nations of the world, who refused it because some of its laws did not please them. Afterwards, Hashem offered it to the Jewish people and they readily accepted it and proclaimed “Na’aseh venishma” — “We will do and we will hear” — study.

Why did Hashem reveal to the Jewish people that He offered the Torah to the nations of the world and that they refused to accept it? Doesn’t this cast the Jewish people in a bad light? To accept something that no one wants does not seem intelligent!

ANSWER: Hashem actually intended to convey a very important message regarding the sanctity of Torah.

The people of Yishmael refused to accept the Torah because it contained the commandment “You shall not steal,” and the character trait of Yishmael was, “His hand will be extended against all people” (Bereishit 16:12). The people of Eisav declined the Torah because it included the commandment “You shall not kill,” and Eisav was told by Yitzchak, “You will live by your sword” (Bereishit 27:40).

Apparently, the entire Torah suited these nations, except for one commandment. If so, should they not have accepted the Torah and disregarded the single law which they could not contend with?

Hashem was thus emphasizing that the other nations realized that the Torah is comprised of 613 totally unified mitzvot, and the slightest omission takes away from the Torah in its totality: A Torah of 612 mitzvot is not an abbreviated Torah, but no Torah at all! After this introduction Hashem’s question to the Jewish people concerned their willingness to accept the whole Torah of 613 mitzvot, to which they unequivocally responded, “We will do and we will hear — we accept the Torah in its entirety.”

(הרב פנחס מרדכי ז"ל טייץ)


"דרש ר' סימאי בשעה שהקדימו ישראל נעשה לנשמע באו ששים ריבוא מלאכי השרת לכל אחד ואחד מישראל קשרו לו שני קשרים אחד כנגד נעשה ואחד כנגד נשמע"
Rabbi Simai expounded “at the time the Jewish people preceded we will do to we will hear, sixty myriads of ministering angels came to each and every Jew and tied two crowns on each Jew, one corresponding to we will do and one corresponding to we will hear.” (Shabbat 88a)

QUESTION: The Jews should have either received three crowns, one for na’aseh — we will do — a second for nishma — we will hear — and a third for hikdimu — giving precedence to “we will do” or only one crown for the hikdimu — for giving precedence to “we will do.” Why were they given two crowns?

ANSWER: In order to do a mitzvah properly there is a certain amount of learning necessary. Otherwise, our Sages say, “An ignoramus cannot be pious” (Avot 2:5). In addition, studying Torah can also be an independent pursuit in its own right. Had the Jews responded “Nishma v’na’aseh” — “We will hear and we will do” it could have meant that they were committing themselves to only one thing, that is, “We will hear (study) in order that we know what and how to do.” By preceding “We will do” they meant “Not only will we study as a prerequisite for performance of mitzvot but even after na’aseh — we will do — we will continue to nishma — hear and study Torah all the time for the sake of Torah study.”

Hence, thanks to hikdimu — giving precedence — to “We will do,” over “We will hear” (study) the Jews demonstrated that “Na’aseh venishma” was a two fold commitment and they were thus worthy of having two crowns tied to each of them, one for na’aseh — “doing” — and one for nishma — “hearing” — i.e. studying even after performing, just for the sake of studying Torah.

(בית הלוי)


Hashem, Too, Says Na’aseh Venishma


"אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב כתפוח בעצי היער כן דודי בין הבנים, למה נמשלו ישראל לתפוח לומר לך מה תפוח זה פריו קודם לעליו אף ישראל הקדימו נעשה לנשמע"
“Rabbi Chama the son of Rabbi Chanina said, “What is the meaning of that which is written ‘Like an apple [tree] among the trees of the forest so is my Beloved among the sons’. (Songs of Songs 2:3) Why are the Jewish people compared to an apple tree? Just as in an apple tree (etrog tree) its fruits precede its leaves, so too the Jewish people preceded we will do to we will hear’.” (Shabbat 88a)

QUESTION: Tosafot asks, the book of Shir Hashirim is an impassioned dialogue between a man (representing Hashem) and his bride (representing Israel). This verse speaks the praise of Hashem and not that of Israel?

ANSWER: The unique relationship between the Jewish people and Hashem, which is expressed in the preceding of Na’aseh to Nishma, is a reciprocal one. He, too, relates to His beloved people in such a way. This is evident from the words of the prophet (Isaiah 65:24); Hashem describes this relationship with His beloved Jewish people, stating that “It will be before they will call I will answer.”

Thus, the Gemara is saying that the first part of the verse “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest” refers to the Jewish people. Why are they compared to an apple tree? Because, just as in the apple (etrog) tree the fruit precedes its leaves, likewise, Klal Yisrael were the only nation among all nations to declare “Na’aseh venishma” — “we will do and we will hear.”

The second part of the verse kein dodi refers to Hashem. The verse is telling us, that the way the Jews acted is also the way that dodi — Hashem — [acts] bein — among — i.e. in His relationship — with habanim — the children — His beloved Klal Yisrael [He responds to their needs even before they call].”

(ר' יהושע זצ"ל מבעלז נרשם במאסף התורני ישורון תשנ"ז)