Two simple words took the world by storm on Tuesday evening. People melded into small groups, intensely holding their phones to their ears. “What do you hear?” they asked each other.

“Yanny,” said one with conviction.

“You’re joking, right?” said the other. “I clearly hear Laurel!”





The words are so distinct it’s hard to imagine that the other person hears something different from what you are hearing. But it’s true!

It did not take long before YouTube commentators and audio mavens were explaining how it is all possible, and playing the clip on different devices or even changing the frequency settings on a single device could convert Laurel to Yanny and back again.

It was like the blue-white-gold dress kerfuffle all over again.

It Happened Before!

This immediately brought to mind a verse from Psalms: “G‑d spoke one [thing], I heard two.”

When did G‑d speak but once, yet two distinct words were heard?

By Divine design, this all happened just days before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, when we celebrate the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. At that time, G‑d spoke the Ten Commandments to His people from Mount Sinai.

The fourth commandment is about Shabbat. When we read the 10 Commandments in Exodus, we are told to “remember the Shabbat to sanctify it.” But when we read the same narrative in Deuteronomy, we are told to “keep the Shabbat to sanctify it.”

So what did G‑d say? Did he command that we keep the Shabbat or that we remember it? The sages of the ancient Mechilta say that both are true. G‑d spoke just once but both words were heard. And as proof that such a thing is possible for G‑d, they cite our verse from Psalms: “G‑d spoke one [thing], I heard two.”

Where Does This Leave Us?

This Sunday morning, in synagogues all over the world, Jewish people will be reading from the Torah, chanting the very verses in Exodus where the 10 Commandments are recorded.

This is a national event, the moment when we go back to who we really are and what makes us Jewish. It’s something for every single Jew, man woman and child.

This is the once-a-year time when we relive that mind-bending experience at Sinai, where heaven kissed earth and people experienced the Divine.

Chances are that you’ll just hear the reader say “remember the Shabbat” since that what it says in the text he will be reading from (in Hebrew of course). But maybe, just maybe, if you listen carefully with your soul, you’ll tap into that transcendent reality way beyond words, where the static of life fades away and there is but only one sound, the word of G‑d.