For a short parsha, נצבים contains a number of famous verses, two of which seem to contradict each other.  First, 29:28 states: “The concealed things are for Hashem our God, and the revealed things are for us and our descendents for all time, to do all that this Torah teaches” while 30:11-2 states: “Because this Law that I command you today is not surpassing, nor is it far from you; it is not in the heavens, for you to say ‘who will ascend heavenward and bring it to us and tell it over to us so that we may follow it?'” (all translations mine).  What are the concealed things referred to in the first verse, and why are they being discussed if, by the logic of the next passage quoted, they are not part of the Law?  If the Torah – which supposedly contains all wisdom – is not far from humanity, what is being left to Hashem in heaven, and why would the text almost entice its readers to try to discover those secrets?  While the first verse is commonly understood to mean that there are things that a human cannot know, it seems equally clear that throughout the history of humanity we have tried time and again to disprove that claim.  Maybe the verses are a formulation of the Socratic statement that the more one learns, the less she realizes she knows.

Struggling to know

All there is; heaven and earth,

Hidden, revealed


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s