I

“They had journeyed from Rephidim and had come to the desert of Sinai, camping in the desert; and Israel camped there before the mountain.”

-Yitro 19:2

With these words the Torah describes Israel’s coming to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.

Our sages note that the verse uses a plural form for “journeyed... had come... camping…” and a singular form for “Israel camped there.” They explain: all other encampments had dissension and murmurings. At Sinai, however, “Israel camped”-as one man, with one mind. By virtue of this unity they received the Torah. The Holy One, blessed is He, said: “As they hate dissension and love peace, and they have become a singular encampment, the time has come to give them the Torah!” For “the purpose for which the whole Torah was given is to bring peace upon the world, as it is said, ‘Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace’” (Proverbs 3:17).

People differ physically and mentally. Individual distinctions, however, need not separate and divide. They complement and supplement one another. Moreover, in essence we share a common denominator, as R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes in Tanya that the souls are “all of a kind, and all having one Father-therefore all Israelites are called real brothers, by virtue of the source of their souls in the One G‑d.” Joining and harmonizing the differing yet complementing aspects in everyone thus leads to a higher-ultimate-unity and perfection.

The Jewish people at Sinai sensed this ultimate and absolute unity joining them together. In that frame of mind, therefore, “as one man, with one mind,” they jointly desired and anticipated receiving the Torah, and that is when G‑d gave it to them.

It is likewise, with the Messianic redemption. Of the Messianic era it is said that “the one preoccupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d.” All knowledge of G‑d derives from the Torah. Moshiach’s ultimate function, therefore, will be to “teach the entire people and instruct them in the way of G‑d, and all nations will come to hear him.” He will reveal new insights, novel understandings of the presently hidden, unknown and esoteric teachings of the infinite Torah, allowing people “to attain knowledge of their Creator to the extent of human capacity.” In order to make it possible for the world to partake in these new revelations, the Messianic era will thus be a time of peace and harmony, with “neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife.”

As we look forward to the bliss of the Messianic redemption, therefore, we must prepare for that new revelation even as we had to prepare for the revelation at Sinai. We must overcome all differences that may lead to dissension and divisiveness, to become as “one man, with one mind” by concentrating on that which unites us, on the common denominator we all share. Peace and harmony among ourselves is assured to hasten the universal and everlasting peace of the Messianic era.

II

Shavu’ot marks the Revelation of the Torah through Moses. It is also the Yahrtzeit (day of passing) of King David and of the Baal Shem Tov. There is an intrinsic connection between these.

The Revelation of the Torah introduced a new bond between holiness and worldliness. The fulfillment of the commandments of the Torah necessitates the use of mundane (physical) substances: animal skins for tefillin and mezuzot; money for tzedakah; a ram’s horn for the blowing of shofar; wheat for matzot; and so forth. This use of physical substances, and all that is involved in their production, thus sublimates these substances to the realm of holiness. The Giving of the Torah made it possible for something material to become sanctified.

King David laid the groundwork for the building of the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) which introduced an additional manifestation of G‑dliness in this physical world.

The Baal Shem Tov revealed the teachings of Chassidut. Through these he demonstrated, and made everyone aware, that literally everything in this world (and not only sacred objects and sacred places) exists solely by virtue of G‑d’s words in the Divine utterances by means of which everything was created.

Thus, we have three levels in manifesting the Divine Presence in the physical and mundane. The Messianic redemption will be the final stage in that process. For in galut we are unable to perceive this Presence: galut conceals that inner reality and ultimate truth. With the coming of Moshiach, however, the present concealment will be removed, as it is said: “The glory of G‑d shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see together that the mouth of G‑d has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).