Friday, January 29, 2016

Dvar Torah for Parshas Yisro

       In Parshas Yisro, we are finally given the Torah. The promise made to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov was finally fulfilled; by accepting the Torah, we became the nation of Hashem. In preparation for receiving the Torah, Hashem gave Moshe instructions telling the Bnei Yisrael what they should do.
       In the back and forth between Hashem and Moshe written over in the Torah, there appears to be one step which is out of order. “…וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה נַעֲשֶׂה וַיָּשֶׁב מֹשֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם אֶל יְהוָה. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַב הֶעָנָן בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ וְגַם בְּךָ יַאֲמִינוּ לְעוֹלָם וַיַּגֵּד מֹשֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם אֶל יְהוָה“…And they (Bnei Yisrael) said, ‘Everything that Hashem says we will do.’ And Moshe brought the words of the nation to Hashem. And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in the thick cloud in order that the nation should hear when I speak to you and they will believe in you forever.’ And Moshe told the words of the Nation to Hashem.” (Shemos 19:8-9). If you follow the flow of the pesukim, first the People speak and Moshe passes their message along, then Hashem speaks to Moshe, and immediately afterwards Moshe passes along another message from the Nation to Hashem. Which message is that? There was no further message to pass along according to what is written in the pesukim!
       The answer, explains the Kli Yakar, lies in the pesukim beforehand. In pasuk 7, Moshe goes to the Elders and tells them a message from Hashem; yet, in pasuk 8, it says that the entire nation responded to Moshe! He explains that the chain of communication was supposed to be that Hashem would communicate to Moshe who would pass the message to the Elders who would give it over to the entire nation. When the People realized this, they immediately rejected this by coming to Moshe directly. They couldn’t stand to have another link separating them from Hashem; one middle man, Moshe, was enough![1]
       Therefore, the first time Moshe passed along their message was to tell Hashem that Bnei Yisrael were ready to accept the Torah with full hearts. The second time he passed a message was to tell Hashem that Bnei Yisrael wanted to hear the Torah directly from Him as much as possible. Therefore, in pasuk 9, Hashem tells Moshe that He will appear in a cloud and speak only to Moshe while allowing the Nation to overhear their conversation, and in pasuk 10-11, He tells Moshe to tell Bnei Yisrael to prepare for a full-blown revelation.
       The same is true nowadays. While we may not experience a complete revelation like there was at Har Sinai, we can also cry directly to Hashem, “Na’aseh V’Nishma! We want to experience You! We want to hear from You!” And with that cry, there is no way Hashem can deny us.
Shabbat Shalom!

[1] The Kli Yakar also explains that Hashem intended Moshe to go directly to Bnei Yisrael without going through the Elders. But Moshe felt this was necessary; in my opinion, in order to give respect to the Elders.

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