Ve’etchanan-Torah

One of the most important events of our parsha (Va’etchanan) is the giving of the Torah.  This is the second time that the Torah was given; the first occurred earlier in parshat Yitro, but since the Jews worshiped the golden calf as Moshe came down from Mt Sinai and he broke the tablets, it was necessary for Moshe to obtain expiation for the Jews and bring them a second set of tablets.  That finally occurred on Yom Kippur, roughly six months after the Jews left Egypt.  During the event, which was a real light and sound show, the Torah says, “God spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain, from amidst the fire, the cloud and the fog, with a great voice that did not cease” (Deut 5:19).  The question is, what kind of voice is it that “does not cease.”

The Midrash Raba (Shemot end of Ch. 28) offers three possibilities:

1) There was one voice that divided into seven voices, which subsequently subdivided into all of the seventy languages of the world.

2) There was one voice from which all future prophecy came. That is, from Moshe Rabeinu’s original prophecy in the Torah would come all the Torah of the later prophets, rabbis and sages.

3) There was no echo to this voice that accompanied the giving of the Torah.

From the first two explanations, we can glean some sense of an unlimited voice: either it was unlimited in space (because wherever we go, we hear one of the seventy languages of the world) or it is unlimited in time (since the voice of matan Torah is reflected in the later Torah scholars and prophets til the end of time).  However, the third explanation seems to make little sense; naturally, a voice has an echo, so why wouldn’t the voice of matan Torah have an echo? If there was no echo, it implies that the voice was weak, and what is “unceasing” about a weak voice?  Most important, what do we learn from this voice that had no echo?

An echo is the result of reflected energy.  When a sound wave extends and encounters a physical barrier that it cannot penetrate, the result is that it bounces off the object, and this is what we hear as an echo. But, what would occur if the sound wave were so powerful that it overpowered and penetrated the object?  In that case, we would hear no echo.  This is what took place at matan Torah.  The giving of the Torah was an overpowering event, during which the spiritual nature of the Torah overcame and permeated the entire physical world.  That is the point and the goal of the Torah – to penetrate the world with spirituality.  And that is why we heard no echo at the giving of the Torah – the energy that was exuded went into the physical world, changing it fundamentally so that the world became a place that could absorb and accept spirituality.

The lesson for us today is that the Torah that we learn should penetrate our very being, from head to toe.  We include within ourselves all of the aspects of creation – the mineral world, the vegetable, the animal and of course human.  The Torah has the ability to permeate all of our faculties and soul levels so that we are “surrounded” from head to foot by spirituality.

For a more detailed and lengthy version, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 4, Page 9-15

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