Shir ha-Shirim XIII: Part Seven: Sefirah 16
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and the Rabbis debated. Rabbi Yehoshua said: Israel heard two Statements from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed is He, “I am,” and, “You shall not have,” for so it is written, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth,” with some, and not all, the kisses.
The Rabbis, however, say that Israel heard all the Statements from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed is He.
Rabbi Yehoshua of Siknin said in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: The reason of the Rabbis is because it is written, “And they said to Moses: You speak with us, and we will hear.” What does Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi do with this verse? He maintains in opposition to the Rabbis that strict chronological order is not followed in the Torah.
But perhaps the words, “’You speak with us, and we will hear,” were spoken only after two or three Statements? Rabbi Azariah and Rabbi Yehuda ben Simón, speaking in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, followed his view. They said: It is written, “Moshe commanded us the Torah.” The whole Torah contains 613 commandments. The numerical value of the word “Torah” is 611, and so many commandments did Moshe speak to us, but, “I am,” and, “You shall not have,” Moshe did not speak to us but we heard them from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed is He. (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1.2:2, Part Seven)
All parties agree that the first two Statements, “I am,” and, “You shall not have,” were heard directly from God. Israel could not possibly have heard these two Statements through a third party because they had to understand the essence of, “I am,” and had to understand that there is only one true Power, and therefore, “You shall not have any other power before Me.”
These two Statements were the essence of the Revelation. When the people heard, “I am,” they were granted the gift of understanding exactly Who, “I am.”
They experienced existence on an entirely new level and perceived God’s true Power in a way that made it clear that no other power exists.
These two statements are the essence of Torah and our relationship with God. They are part of the very nature of our souls. As we approach the day of the Revelation, we seek to connect to the deepest parts of our souls in which these two Statements continue to resonate.