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Why were the Ten Commandments given in a desert?

by Rabbi Baruch E. Erdstein, Nechama Dina Kumer

  

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If the Torah is supposed to represent spiritual influx, blessing, and connection to G-d in this worldly plane, why wasn't it presented to the world in a place of revealed physical abundance? Why was a remote barren desert chosen for this revelation? It certainly seems like poor advertising!

1. Equal Opportunity Empowerment

The fact that the Ten Commandments were given in a desert on a mountain is no coincidence. Everything has a reason and lesson for us. A desert is a place owned by no one at all. So too, the Torah is accessible to all; it is our spiritual inheritance of which we may all equally partake.

2. The Journey is Also Part of the Fun

First, let us understand that the Torah (whose essence is concentrated in the Ten Commandments) is not a static code of law or even a series of stories containing lessons in morality. Referred to as "a living tree", the Torah is a vibrant, deep, ever-developing pathway to G-dliness. It is a tool of transformation to those who embrace it, delving into its richness.

The Torah is a path – not a destination
Jewish tradition teaches that at the giving of the Torah, Mount Sinai bloomed. With the introduction of Torah, the barren wasteland was converted into a lush garden filled with flowers. Thus, the dynamic transformative power of Torah was revealed to even a greater extent than it could have had it been given in an already established manifestation of blessing.

The Torah is a path – not a destination. The road connecting us to the Infinite Creator should never be shallow, staid, static, or habitual. To demonstrate this, it was presented to us on the way to the Land of Israel.

In addition, far from the major centers of civilization (the primary one having just been destroyed in the most successful public relations campaign against idol worship in history!), this experience was reserved exclusively for those who had toiled within a state of exile, never losing their faith in G-d. From this we learn that the greatest revelations of G-dliness are rewarded to those who are tested and emerge victorious.


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