Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5773
Parashat Hashavua: Info @bout DatHarav Yosef Carmel
One of our loyal readers asked us to explain the word dat, which comes several times in Megillat Esther, and we are happy to oblige. Our main focus will be on the word as it appears in the sefarim of Tanach that correspond to the
Throughout Esther, dat refers to the law, as Ibn Ezra explains on the pasuk: “The drinking was according to the dat, there was no coercion …” (Esther 1:8). Therefore, it should be no surprise that Rabbeinu Bachyei (Devarim 16:18) explains “all those who know dat and din” (Esther 1:13) as: “judges – those wise people who know the laws and give rulings on them”
Rav Yosef Elbo (Sefer Ha’ikarim 1:7) explains why a set of rules in the religious realm is also called dat. He says that dat can refer to any set of rules of behavior that bands a large group of people together. The origin and purpose of this set of rules can be divine (Elokit), as we find in the “fire of dat” in Devarim (33:2). The dat can consist of humanly agreed upon rules of behavior (nimusit), as we find in the dat of
Rav Elbo explains that a religious dat can be instructions for proper behavior that are passed on by prophets, such as Adam and Noach. Avraham was a classic example of someone who taught a dat, which was focused on getting people used to serving Hashem and doing that which He mandated. Of course, for us, it includes the very elaborate set of rules that Moshe set forth before Bnei Yisrael.
He explains that a dat tiv’it refers to rules that distance people from clear moral failings, such as theft and murder. This allows a society to avoid phenomena that can rip it apart from within. A dat nimusit refers to those rules that a given society agree upon, which help the society function in an effective way, avoiding matters that are deemed by the society to be detrimental or bothersome. It includes such matters as rules of road safety, taxes, and commercial laws.
According to Rav Elbo, there is no deep connection between the dat of
May the month of Adar inspire us to reaccept the Torah, as our forefathers did at the time of Achashveirosh, and give deeper meaning to our lives.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
Rabanit Itah bat Chana
amongst the sick
of Klal Yisrael
This edition of
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l
to the memory
Chayim HaCohen Kaplan