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What is the significance of the Sinai event?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer

  

Library » Mitzvot » 10 Commandments | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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1. Making the World a G-dly Abode

Tradition teaches that the forefathers fulfilled all the commandments. But their fulfillment was drastically different than ours. Until Sinai, spirituality and physicality were unrelated dichotomies. The forefathers made spiritual waves in the world, but they didn’t make material objects into holy ones. For example, Jacob would use simple wooden sticks to elicit the same spiritual energy that we elicit when we don phylacteries. That's amazing. Yet, those sticks didn’t achieve holiness, whereas the leather parchment of the phylacteries does. When Abraham did a Mitzvah (commandment), he elicited Divine revelations within spirituality. When we do mitzvahs, we elicit Divine revelations within physicality. They used physical objects for holy actions. We transform physical objects into holy entities. This revolutionary change happened at Sinai.

"And G-d descended upon Mt. Sinai to the top of the mountain … and Moses ascended (the mountain)". The Infinite descended, and the finite ascended—the dichotomies united, allowing them to mutually affect one another on a permanent basis. Since then, when a finite object is utilized for a Mitzvah, that piece of physicality is united with spirituality, and the effect on the object is permanent. At Sinai the Jewish people received much greater abilities than what was previously available to them.

This concept is illustrated by the fact that the Ten Commandments contain two types of mitzvahs, 'G-dly' ones, and 'earthly' ones. The first ones deal with belief in G-d. That sounds spiritual. But really this is also intended to penetrate every part of our physical existence. We should see G-d's interaction in our day to day lives, and infuse even our most mundane acts (eating, sleeping, etc.) with G-dliness. The latter commandments of don’t steal and murder, seem basic to systems of law made by finite human beings. What is so Divine about them? Yet, even with these commandments we must realize that the real source is G-d, and that is why we fulfill them. When we do mitzvahs that make sense to us, but do them because G-d commanded it, we bring G-dliness into our reality. 

We transform physical objects into holy entities. This revolutionary change happened at Sinai
2. Getting Personal With G-d

At Mount Sinai, the Jewish People received much more than static details recorded in stone. As is known, Moses received the entire Torah at that time, including the mysteries of the higher worlds as well as the myriad facets of the entire 613 Torah commandments. But even so, we received much more than that.

At Sinai we actually experienced G-d. Each Jew felt a personal revelation of G-d as He transferred this wisdom to us. No amount of studying Torah could serve as a substitute for the personal relationship which was created at Sinai.

3. Seeing Is Believing... And the More Eyes the Better

The Sinai event was something experienced by the entire nation together, creating an eternal bond amongst us. And unlike most of today's religions, which are based on the report of a single individual's divine experience (believe it or not), the giving of the Torah at Sinai (as well as the Exodus) was witnessed by millions. The miracles associated with the birth of the Jewish nation did not occur within a vacuum, but rather within a profound historical context, leaving little room for skeptics, in no way demanding that we abandon reason for "blind faith" regarding the commandments.

4. Seeing Is Believing... But Do You Understand What You See?

The subject matter of the Ten Commandments is not so obvious. Each one of the commandments has many subcategories. And how many people realize that "Thou shalt not steal" is referring to the theft of people, i.e. kidnapping, or that "Thou shalt not kill" in no way rules out capital punishment or defensive wars? The commandments, like the rest of Torah, must be explored in-depth. They are not one-dimensional. Our personal relationship with the commandments must always be vibrant. We must always learn new insights, allowing them to strengthen our connection to holiness within the contexts of our lives.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » 10 Commandments
Holidays » Shavuot » 10 Commandments
History » Desert Sojourn

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.