PARSHAS YISRO

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PARSHAS YISRO

We’ve finally made it. Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah are finally here. What an unbelievable event! Without the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, there would be no Jewish people. The existence of the Jewish nation is completely indigent on the Torah and its mitzvos. Without it, there is nothing. It goes without saying then that the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai might be the single greatest event that ever happened. What an unbelievable merit to be the chosen nation of the Almighty and to have his Torah. But it wasn’t that simple.

The Midrash tells us that the other nations weren’t so happy about this plan. They wanted a chance to be the chosen nation. They complained that they should have a chance. So the Almighty obliged. First he went to the children of Esav (Edom). H-m asked them if they would like to accept the Torah. “What’s in it” asked Edom. So the Almighty told them that it says thou shalt not murder. “No way” said the Edom.  “That’s our whole life. We can’t give that up”. So the Almighty went to the next nation. He asked Amon and Moab if they wanted to accept the Torah. They too asked what’s in it. So the Almighty answered that it says don’t commit adultery. “Woe, woe, woe” said Amon and Moab. “Hold on a minute. That’s our whole life. Can’t give that one up”. Onto the next nation went the Almighty.He He asked the children of Yishmael if they would like to accept the Torah. They too asked what’s in it. So H-m answered them that it says don’t steal. “No way” answered Yishmael’s children. “That’s how we make our living. There’s no honest work around here”. And so it went, nation after nation, until H-m came to the Jewish people. Without even asking what’s in it, the entire nation accepted.

There’s one simple question here that needs explanation. The three commandments mentioned here that stopped the various nations from accepting the Torah were murder, adultery, and stealing. That would make sense and all if not for one fundamental problem. Three of the seven Noachide laws are don’t murder, steal, or commit adultery. These nations were obligated to keep these laws anyway. How could these specific commandments be the deterrent to accepting the holy Torah? What’s the difference if they are obligated by Noachide law or the Torah? Anyway they have to keep it!

Imagine for one minute someone driving down the highway. The speed limit is 65, and he’s driving 80. He’s breaking the speed limit. There’s a rule that he’s not following. Big whoop! Everyone breaks the speed limit here or there. It’s just a rule. It doesn’t really mean anything. The speed limit is there to keep people safe, and driving a little bit over isn’t going to make a real difference. Now imagine a diabetic. He is told to stay away from sugar. There’s one problem though; he loves sugar cookies. He can’t control himself and eats three. Big whoop! So he broke a rule. What’s the big deal…? No one in their right mind would ever say that. There is obviously no comparison. Sugar for a diabetic isn’t just breaking a rule, it’s killing himself.

The nations of the world understood something very intrinsic about the Torah. The rules of the Torah are not just rules like a speed limit, it’s the essence of who we are. The nations had and have no problem breaking the seven Noachide laws, because there just rules. Rules can be broken and it’s not so bad. It means nothing. Yet, if someone breaks the Torah, he or she is not just breaking a rule, rather destroying their entire essence. The nations of the world were saying to keep the rules of don’t murder or don’t steal is fine. We can live with that. We’ll break it sometimes, and it won’t matter. But to accept the Torah and become don’t kill, that is impossible. They knew deep down that their entire essence were these traits and couldn’t change who they were. The only nation willing to, not only accept the Torah, but become the Torah, were the Jewish people. It goes without saying then that the acceptance of the Torah on Mount Sinai wasn’t just an acceptance of a rule book, but an acceptance of themselves. The Jewish people from then on became, and still are, a nation of Torah and mitzvos. And that is our essence as the Jewish people.

GOOD SHABBOS!

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