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Keeping In Touch - Vol. 1: Yisro

Keeping In Touch - Vol. 1: Yisro

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How can a limited mortal relate to an unlimited G‑d? Mankind has pondered this questions for centuries. If He is G‑d, He is, by definition, infinite and unbounded, and thus above our comprehension. How then can we establish a connection to Him?

Our Sages focused on this question in the Midrash , stating that before the giving of the Torah, the spiritual status of the world could be described by the verse “The heavens are the heavens of G‑d, but the earth He gave to man.” The heavens, the spiritual realms, were self-contained; they had no influence on the material realm. And mankind, living as we do in the earthly realm, had no way of tapping into the spiritual.

At the Giving of the Torah, this changed. G‑d allowed for communication between these two realms. Thus it is written: “And G‑d descended on Mt. Sinai.” G‑d made Himself manifest and accessible to mankind. And it is also written: “And Moses ascended unto G‑d,” i.e., we were given the opportunity to elevate ourselves and our surrounding environment and endow it with spiritual content.

At Sinai, G‑d gave us the Torah to immortalize this experience. Sinai thus became not a one-time event, but rather the establishment of a channel that continues to enable man and G‑d to relate to each other.

The Torah contains teachings that brings G‑d within reach of our understanding, for He has invested Himself in the Torah and its laws. When a person studies a law from the Talmud, what he is in effect doing is understanding G‑d’s essence. That infinite dimension which no mortal can grasp has been concentrated within the Torah’s teachings.

To hint at the ongoing dimension of G‑d’s revelation at Sinai, our Sages stated: “G‑d’s voice did not have an echo.” Instead of rebounding, G‑d’s voice permeated the material substance of the world. From that moment onward, “The Torah is not in the heavens,” but part and parcel of the environment in which we live.

This revelation is complemented by the mitzvos which gives us guidelines with which we can conduct our lives in a G‑dly manner and relate our actions to Him. This in fact is the source of the word mitzvah which relates to the Aramaic word tzavsa meaning “connection.” The Torah gives us an opportunity to relate to G‑d through our minds. Through the mitzvos, not only our feelings and our thoughts, but also our deeds can be brought into connection with Him.

In this manner, the revelation at Sinai becomes not only a story of history, but an event which has immediate relevance to our lives today. For this reason, in the blessings we recite each day before Torah study, we refer to G‑d as “the Giver of the Torah,” using a present tense form. And the present leads to the future, when we will witness the culmination of the process begun at Sinai with the coming of Mashiach.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory ; adapted by Eli Touger
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