Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Yitro.

The Silent Day

The Talmud describes what happened on each of the six days leading up to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In this account we find a puzzling thing.

On the 1st of Sivan, ‘The Children of Israel encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses did not say anything at all to them that day, since they were exhausted from the journey.’

From the day they departed Egypt, the people had been eagerly awaiting the most important event in their history—their receiving of the Torah from G‑d. Our sages tell us that they literally counted the days. How is it possible that on the day they arrived they did nothing?

At Sinai, the divine wisdom was revealed to man. Obviously, the human mind cannot attain the divine wisdom on its own; it that must be given by G‑d Himself. So, although G‑d instructed us to study His Torah, desiring that human intellect should serve as the vehicle by which we apprehend His truth, a crucial prerequisite to Torah study is the mind’s total abnegation of its ego. Only after it has voided itself of all pretension that it is capable of attaining the truth of truths on its own, can the mind become a fit vessel to receive it. In the words of the sages, “An empty vessel can receive; a full vessel cannot receive.”

So, this day was an integral part of their preparations for receiving the Torah. This was the day on which they undertook the most “exhausting journey” of emptying their souls of intellectual vanity and making themselves fit receptacles for the divine truth.
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No Echo

At Sinai we were charged to serve as "a light unto the nations" — to actualize in our own lives, and to teach all of humanity, that no matter what the conditions of a particular time, place or society may be, there is an all-transcendent, unequivocal, divinely ordained truth and moral code of behavior to which to adhere.

At times, we might be confronted with a seemingly unresponsive and even resisting world. It may appear that one or another of the Torah's precepts does not fit in with the prevalent reality. So the Torah tells us that the voice which sounded G‑d's message to the world had no echo.

The voice of the Ten Commandments permeated every object and reality in the universe. So any resistance we may possibly meet in implementing them is superficial and temporary. For at Sinai, the essence of every created being was made consistent with, and wholly receptive to, the goodness and perfection which G‑d desires of it.
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Reaching Infinity

How can a limited mortal relate to an unlimited G‑d? G‑d, is by definition, infinite and unbounded, and thus above our comprehension.

The Midrash states, 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 the two realms. Thus it is written: “And G‑d descended on Mt. Sinai.” G‑d made Himself manifest and accessible to mankind. 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.

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.
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G‑d's Garden

The revelation at Sinai represented a turning point in the world’s spiritual history. When G‑d descended on Mount Sinai, the nature of the world changed. As the Midrash states, at that time, G‑d said: “I came into My garden.” G‑dliness returned to the world and the world became His garden, the place where He luxuriates and from which He receives pleasure and satisfaction.

True, directly afterwards, the people sinned — they made a Golden Calf and, in that way, prevented G‑dliness from being revealed in our ordinary material framework of reference. Nevertheless, the essential bond, the fundamental connection between G‑d and this world remained. The issue is that at Sinai, the connection was open and apparent. Mankind could appreciate G‑dliness. After the sin, He was hidden from man’s consciousness and the challenge of relating to Him became man’s responsibility and mission.

But that is precisely the advantage of this phase of our existence. G‑d is waiting for man to make Him part of his life; it is all dependent on man. There are no restraints from Above. If we truly desire, we can make Him part of our lives and make the age of Mashiach a tangible reality.
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The Day the Heavens Opened

The Jewish People studied Torah and observed its precepts long before they actually became obligated in them at Sinai. Moreover, the Ten Commandments were composed largely of laws already commanded to the non-Jewish world. What, then, was so important about the Giving of the Torah at Sinai?: