Shavuot: Awe vs. Love of God: Part Four
Transcribed by Daniel Goldman from a shiur delivered on 18 May 1999: They are saying that “we will do this, we want to be a part of this story.” This is Love. This is a relationship with God. They say, “We want to be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” This is “We understand that Abraham created his part of the two-way relationship with God, we understand that Isaac created his part of the two-way relationship with God, and that Jacob created his part. That is what we will do. That is what we will work for. Then, v’nishma, we will hear. We will be able to understand the Torah in a way that we could never understand it before. Because before it would have been pure obedience. But now we see Torah as a way to developing a relationship with You.” After they said that, “Moshe took the second half of the blood.” The first half he poured onto the altar. The second half of the blood, “…he sprinkled it upon the people, and he said ‘This is the blood of the Covenant.’”
The Revelation in Yitro is the development of Awe, which is to see God as God is. The Giving of the Torah at Sinai in Mishpatim is the development of Love, the development of a relationship with God. In fact, it is the same as what God told Adam in the Garden. If you read the rest of the story, you will see that this is so. After the Jews said Na’aseh V’nishma, they were eating and drinking! This is Awe? They look at God and they see underneath God’s feet. This is Love.
Let’s see how this relates to the beginning of Creation. To review: At the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God sets an agenda for man. “I want to have a two-way relationship with you. However, it will begin with Awe. I am the Boss. I am the Master. You eat from that Tree and you will die. I have that power. Then, we will develop a relationship of Love, and that Tree will become a Tree of Life.” Similarly, at Sinai, God says to the people, “I want to have a two-way relationship with you. But the relationship must begin with Awe. You must know with whom you are relating. You must have a sense that it is beyond you. Because when you will desire to know, you can develop a relationship of real Love.”
By the way, this is very important in the most practical of ways. If you ask someone, “do you believe in G-d?” 80-90% will tell you that they do. “What do you believe in?” “Well, I see Him as an old man, with a white beard.” Or, “an old woman with a white beard.” Everyone has his own idea of God. Or, “This is the way God wants me to be…I just know.” Everybody seems to be positive about what God wants from him. “So, Rabbi…you know, it’s too hard for me to do this…” The Rabbi says, “My son, I know, it’s OK, God wants you to be happy. God created you to be happy…so you have to do what feels good for you.” What a great rabbi!