"In the third month after the departure of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day, they arrived in the desert of Sinai." (Ex. 20:13)

Rashi comments that the word "this" in the above verse teaches that the Torah should be new for us each day, as though given to us perpetually. Rabbi Hillel of Paritch asks how we can do this; he answers using the Rambam's question: "Why did Moses write the Torah in 3rd person: 'And G‑d said to Moses'? Nor does the Torah say 'And I [G‑d] said to Moses'." It appears that neither G‑d nor Moses is relaying the Torah. So who is?

A name implies a relationship with someone else….

In truth, G‑d is doing the telling, but at a level that supercedes any of His names. A name implies a relationship with someone else. The name "G‑d" refers to His relationship with us and the world. Yet there is a level of G‑d, His Essence, that is higher even than any name. This is the Source of all. It is a level that we know of but cannot describe. The Torah emanates from this lofty level of G‑dliness. For this reason the Torah was written in 3rd person. From that perspective, the Divine Essence speaks about a lower divine level called "G‑d". When we constantly remind ourselves that the ultimate source of the Torah is higher than the world, then it will always be fresh to us. When we are learning Torah or even choosing a teacher or a school for our children, our real question should be: "'Will our children come out not only knowing Torah, but knowing Who gave it also?"

We can and must imbue every aspect of Jewish life with warmth and enthusiasm….

The Rebbe Rayatz wrote that the giving of the Torah is connected to fire as it says, "...G‑d descended upon it with fire". (Ex. 19:18) This teaches us that we can and must imbue every aspect of Jewish life with warmth and enthusiasm.

Rebbe Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov explains this verse in a different way: The Hebrew word for "month" ("chodesh") can also be translated as "renewal" ("chadash"); the words "land of Egypt" ("Eretz Mitzrayim") can be translated as "narrow land" ("eretz metzarim") and refer to our evil inclination. The word "day" refers to a positive intellectual orientation as opposed to night, which is darkness and ignorance. Jews have three means of expressing their connection to G‑d: thought, speech, and most importantly, deed. Now the verse can be read: "When we 'renew' our 'third' faculty, action, by fulfilling the commandments, we redeem ourselves out of a personal Egypt which is the Evil Inclination, and create a positive intellectual attitude to help us arrive at Sinai to receive the Torah." Just do it!

Today, people go on vacations all over the world. (One family vacationed in a space shuttle, but the mother-in-law complained the entire time that there was no atmosphere...). In Europe, a chasid customarily traveled to his Rebbe at holidays for extended periods of time to reinvigorate and revitalize his connection to Judaism. A famous chasid, RebbeYechiel Meir returned home after a long Shavuot sojourn in Kotzk at his Rebbe. His father-in-law, who was not of the Chasidic persuasion, critically asked him, "Did you chasidim receive the Torah in a different way then all the rest of us Jews?" Rebbe Yechiel Meir answered, "Of course. I will give you an example: How do you understand the 8th commandment, 'Do not steal'"? (Ex. 20:13) His father-in-law answered, "Don't steal from others." Rebbe Yechiel Meir responded that in Kotzk they explain it: "Do not steal from yourself" - meaning "Don't fool yourself by imagining you are on a level higher than you really are".

"And G‑d came down onto Mt. Sinai." (Ex. 19:20)

It is incumbent upon us...to constantly remember and prepare for the Redemption….

The Midrash says that Mt. Sinai was the chosen location for giving the Torah because it was the smallest of all mountains. The Kotzker Rebbe says that, in this case, "small" refers to humility and not actual physical stature. But if being humble is so laudable, why not give the Torah in a valley? Yet a valley symbolizes someone with no good attributes, and therefore has nothing to admire or be haughty about. The real challenge is to be a mountain (i.e. have good characteristics) and despite this remain small (humble).

"Remember the day of Shabbat and sanctify it." (Ex. 20:8)

Rashi writes that "remember" means that when we obtain a special delicacy during the week, we should save it for Shabbat. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that every day we are obligated to remember Shabbat and to begin our Shabbat preparations even from Sunday. The era of Mashiach is also called "Shabbat", as it says, "An eternal day that is all Shabbat and rest." Just as we are prepare for Shabbat from Sunday, so too it is incumbent upon us during these last days of the exile to constantly remember and prepare for the Redemption. Start preparing for Mashiach's arrival by increasing good deeds and acts of kindness - today!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.