The encounter at Sinai

We will never know exactly what happened at Sinai, what our ancestors experienced there.

May 16, 2018 11:05
Shavuot illustration by Pepe Fainberg

Shavuot illustration by Pepe Fainberg. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)


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I STAND in my synagogue as the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – is read on the morning of Shavuot. I always find that a moving experience. Sometimes I close my eyes and try to imagine that I am standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai as these words are uttered from above. I remember that the sages said the souls of all Israelites yet to be born were actually present then at that event. It was, after all, the climax of the events of the Exodus, leading from freedom from human bondage to the creation of a holy people, committed to the service of God.

The liturgy of that day designates Shavuot as “the time of the giving of our Torah.” And yet when we look at the accounts in the Torah of these events, we find that strangely enough nowhere are we told to commemorate what happened at Sinai.


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