Shavuot: Awe vs. Love of God: Part Two
Transcribed by Daniel Goldman from a shiur delivered on 18 May 1999: “And they traveled from Rephidim, where they had battled with Amalek. And they came to the desert of Sinai, they camped in the desert. And Israel camped there, opposite the mountain.” Rashi asks why does the verse say that they traveled from Rephidim? We already know that they were in Rephidim. Rashi answers that just as they left Rephidim in a state of Teshuva, so too, they arrived at Sinai in a state of Teshuva.
“Moshe went up to the Lord, and God calls up to him.” Moshe goes up to “the Lord,” in Awe, and God responds to him with Love.
“So shall you say to the House of Jacob. And speak to the men, you saw what I did to Egypt, I carried you on the wings of eagles, and I brought you to Me.” It does not say here that God brought the Jews out of Egypt, it says, “I brought you to Me.” All of a sudden the context has changed. “I, God, don’t want you to look at it like I brought you out of Egypt. No. The whole time I was bringing you to Me.” What did God say at their first conversation at the burning bush? (which by the way is also a switch between ‘God’ and ‘Lord’) Moshe asks, “What sign will you give me? God says, “When I will take you out, you will serve me at this mountain.”
“And now, if you listen to My voice, and guard My covenant, you will be to Me as a treasure, of all the nations of the earth, because the whole earth is Mine.” When do the Jews hear God’s voice, at Revelation or at the Giving of the Torah? – at Revelation. When do they “guard the covenant?” – at the Giving of the Torah. Are the Ten Statements part of Revelation or part of the Giving of the Torah? – Revelation. Meaning, what is God telling them? They are statements, not commandments. If you say they are commandments, you’re blowing it! What are you going to find if you study Torah? – God! Torah is Revelation. Therefore when eventually receive the Torah, how are they going to use it? To find God.
“You will be a kingdom of priests…” Is that Revelation or Matan Torah? Priests – they are the ones who reveal God’s Torah to the people. That is Revelation. “…and a holy nation,” – that’s Torah.
“…These are the words you should speak to the children of Israel. And Moshe came and spoke to the leaders of the people, and he placed in front of them all these words that God said.” Did Moshe tell them the law? No. He placed it in front of them. Where else do we say that Moses placed the Torah in front of them? When we lift up the Torah in synagogue. What’s the difference between telling them the Torah and placing it in front of them? – the latter is Revelation. That’s why the one who has the greatest reward of all the aliyot is the person who lifts up the Torah so all can see it.