Where's the Drum Roll?

Where's the Drum Roll?

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By: Rav Shlomo Friedman

After the dramatic Exodus, and the countdown of fifty days (or the "count up" of the fifty days of (ספירת העומר, the Jewish people finally reach the desired destination of קבלת התרה at הר סיני. There seems to be something missing though, in the manner in which this momentous event is presented. In light of the great significance of the giving of the תורה at הר סיני, we would have expected a more dramatic "drum roll"- a statement to the Jewish people that they are about to receive the divinely authored all-important and fully-comprehensive book of laws. We are told that there is a ברית  that will be established, that we will become a holy nation, and that G-d will appear to the entire nation, but the expected emphasis on receiving an exhaustive list of חוקים ומשפטים is not there. 

One might respond that there are there are some פסוקים that are stated before מעמד הר סיני which could be taken as references to the fact that the Jewish people are being offered the Holy תורה. The Jewish people are told אם שמוע תשמעו בקולי ושמרתם את בריתי. Nevertheless, there is no explicit mention before הר סיני about the fact that we are about to be commanded with חוקים ומשפטים. (The רמב"ן does understand that when we were told at מרה shortly before Mount Sinai, אם שמוע תשמע לקול ד' אלוקיך והישר בעיניו תעשה והאזנת למצוותיו ושמרת כל חוקיו... , then we are being informed of what was coming up- הקדוש ברוך הוא was indicating that we should expect to be given G-d's laws. Nevertheless, we would have expected that all this should have found it’s place in the תורה’s introduction to מעמד הר סיני.)

Perhaps one might offer the following suggestion

In a well-known piece, the בית הלוי on the פרשה points out that generally speaking, the rule is that one cannot obligate himself on an indefinite sum or on an unlimited obligation. The question then arises, how could we have obligated ourselves to the multitude of  מצוות in the תורה before having heard them. He answers by pointing out that there is an exception to the aforementioned rule- if one sells himself as a slave. In such a situation he is bound to fulfill the demands of his master being that the original sale was of a limited nature. After all, the original sale "just" involved the individual giving himself over into slavery and being owned by the master. The natural outcome of being a slave is the obligation to fulfill whatever the master demands.  At הר סיני , says the בית הלוי, we became G-d's people. After all, we were told והייתם לי סגולה מכל העמים and the מדרש comments שתהיו קנויים לי. (We could add that already in מצרים we were told in the ארבע לשונות של גאולה, that the process of והוצאתי, והצלתי ,וגאלתי, ולקחתי is meant to lead up to ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם- to becoming הקב"ה's nation)     

In light of the בית הלוי we can suggest that the פסוקים deliberately don't emphasize the aspect of  מעמד הר סיני as an event of receiving the Divine Law. The תורה wanted to play up the fact that at הר סיני was for the sake of our accepting the role of becoming G-d's people and of becoming a ממלכת כוהנים וגוי קדוש.

This understanding of the nature of מעמד הר סיני impacts the attitude we should have towards תורה ומצוות. Some might view being a Jew as simply having the responsibility of checking off a lengthy checklist of six hundred thirteen boxes. It is important for us to see not only the trees but also the forest. We have to recognize, appreciate, nurture and constantly develop our relationship with הקדוש ברוך הוא and to view the מצוות, as a means to attain that lofty goal.     








Shiur ID: 9369

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