Click Here to Visit Our Sponsor Get Sponsored
  Torah from Dixie leftbar.gif [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []    [top_passo.jpg]

CRYSTAL CLEAR

by Mark Goldberg    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

When Hashem revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai - the extraordinary event annually commemorated and celebrated on the festival of Shavuot - two things became crystal clear: the reality of G-d's existence, and the absolute necessity to accept the Torah.

complete_story.gif    

[]

When Hashem revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai - the extraordinary event annually commemorated and celebrated on the festival of Shavuot - two things became crystal clear: the reality of G-d's existence, and the absolute necessity to accept the Torah.

Regarding the first of these two, the verse says, "You have been shown [the Divine revelation] in order to know that Hashem, He is the G-d! There is none beside Him" (Deuteronomy 4:35). Rashi, the fundamental Torah commentator, comments on this verse that when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He opened the seven heavens so that every Jew could see that Hashem is the one and only G-d. Every member of the fledgling Jewish nation experienced an encounter with the Divine that would leave and indelible imprint on their lives and that of their descendants until the end of time.

Not only was the existence of G-d an undeniable reality at that point, our accepting the Torah was also inevitable. Expounding on a verse preceding the revelation which, when read literally, describes the Jewish people as standing "under the mountain" (Exodus 19:17), the sages said that "Hashem lifted up the mountain over them as He would a beer barrel, and said, "If you accept the Torah, fine. If not, there you will be buried" (Talmud Tractate Shabbat 88a).

In our minds, we have an image of a shotgun marriage; however, the sages are telling us something deeper. At that point, the Jewish people saw the true reality of the world. They were confronted with Hashem and with the fact that the Torah is essential to Hashem's plan for the universe. Intellectually, there was only one option - to accept the Torah.

After describing the revelation at Mt. Sinai, the Torah proceeds to discuss the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle built by the Jewish people in the desert. In his classic commentary on the Torah, the Ramban explains that the purpose of the Mishkan (and, subsequently, the purpose of the Temple in Jerusalem) was to provide a place where the Sinai revelation could be experienced constantly. A person who entered the Temple would be "standing before Hashem" - a description that the Torah often uses for the Temple experience.

But the Mishkan was actually just a paradigm. Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, one of the greatest Torah scholars and leaders of the early 19th century, explains that the Mishkan served as a prototype of how each Jew should turn himself into a personal Mishkan, a place where Hashem's presence can dwell. We must constantly be experiencing the revelation at Sinai. Even though the physical Mishkan is currently not standing, the requirement to transform ourselves into a Mishkan still applies. A person must live in such a way that he is constantly aware of Hashem's presence and of the absolute necessity of Torah.

The Jewish people were deeply aware of these two things at Mt. Sinai. The festival of Shavuot is our opportunity to relive the giving of the Torah and recommit our lives to the truths that were so evident on that day.

[]

Mark Goldberg, who hails from Atlanta, writes from Jerusalem.

You are invited to read more Parshat Bamidbar articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

butombar.gif [] [] [] []