Receiving the Torah AND Hashem

Receiving the Torah AND Hashem 1

Good Morning Everybody, Happy Rosh Chodesh Sivan,

When reviewing the sections in the Torah that discuss what happened when the Jews were encamped at Mt. Sinai before hearing the 10 Commandments, we find something pretty unexpected, and to me, I have to admit, quite humorous. It is SO QUINTESSENTIALLY JEWISH. 

That week before the 10 Commandments, starting on the second day of Sivan, Moshe would go up and down the mountain each day. He’d receive messages from Hashem that he would relay to the people, and he’d also relay the people’s responses back to Hashem. (Moshe was definitely getting his steps in that week.)

So on the 3rd of Sivan, Hashem tells Moshe to inform the people that He (Hashem) will declare  the 10 Commandments directly to Moshe, and the people will basically get to listen in, you know, sort of “overhear” what Hashem says. So Moshe relays the news to the people and that’s when the world’s most classic Jewish response occurs. The people basically respond: “Uh… no deal. That’s not really how we see this thing going down, Moshe. With all due respect, we want to hear directly from G-d, not this little ‘waiting in the wings kind of situation.’”

Isn’t that classic?! G-d wasn’t asking our opinion! He wasn’t looking for us to sign off on His plan. Hashem was giving us instructions, and we’re like…”Nah, that doesn’t really work for us.” We turned the whole thing into a negotiation! We actually make Hashem a counter offer! (It’s in our genes people!)

Well, I believe this episode might teach us something very fundamental about Judaism. 

Let’s think…What was the big deal about the Jews wanting to hear directly from G-d? After all, they would’ve heard the words just as well when they were being told to Moshe. But the big deal was that the people YEARNED for a personal connection with G-d! At that seminal time in our people’s history, they showed that having an intimate relationship with Hashem is at the heart of being Jewish. Even though Mt. Sinai is known as the place where Hashem gave us the Torah, it’s also the place where WE gave ourselves to Hashem

Trying to negotiate a better deal with Hashem wasn’t what was so quintessentially Jewish. It was our burning desire to get close to Him. That’s what was so Jewish! 

So in these days leading up to Shavuos, let’s remember that this holiday isn’t just about getting the Torah, it’s about getting closer to Hashem. It’s not just about the commandments, it’s about the Commander too!

May Hashem help us to put our hearts into doing the mitzvos, and to feel His loving presence more consistently in our lives.

Have a wonderful day everybody,

Keep on Building!

Listen to the audio version of Marshall’s column.


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