Yitro: To "Summit" All Up

You have to see the forest as well as the trees to lead a Torah true life. The way the Ten Commandments were given teaches that lesson.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7

The highlight of our Sedra - and perhaps all the Torah! - is the reading of the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments. The Torah's intro to this earth-shaking (our apologies to Haiti) event -
"And G-d spoke all these things, saying.." - is explained by Rashi:

"Hashem first spoke all 10 commandments at the same time (an act that is humanly impossible),
 
The obvious question is that if a human being could not process all the commandments presented simultaneously, then what was the purpose of doing it? Particularly if we were soon going to hear them individually anyway!

I suggest that Hashem wanted to initially show us "the big picture," to present the overall
fullness of the Torah, and only then to dissect it into separate Mitzvot. It was important that we appreciate the goal for which we are striving, before we take any specific steps to reach that goal.

Imagine a mountain-climber about to ascend Mt. Everest. Before he begins his climb, he takes a step back to look up at the summit, to mentally record the object of his struggle. Then he gets to work moving up that mountain. As
Hashem wanted to initially show us "the big picture," to present the overall fullness of the Torah, and only then to dissect it into separate Mitzvot.
he ascends, little by little, he may see only the solid rock wall in front of him; the mountain-top may be totally obscured from his view. But in his mind's eye, that summit is always there, and it is always beckoning to him and pulling him upwards.

The Mitzvot we do, day in and day out, are the steps we take on our climb upwards to Hashem. Without them, we cannot hope to reach the summit. But it is crucial for us to also have a vision of where we are headed, and be able to visualize the exhilaration that awaits us when we do reach the top.

There are some people who gaze longingly at the mountain-top, who truly desire to reach the heights. But, alas, they are not prepared to do what it takes to get there (or may not have prepared the right "equipment" for the climb!). At the same time, there are those who do indeed work their way forward, step by step, but have lost sight of exactly where they are headed to!

(It is worth noting that Israel - which is "higher" in both a topographical and spiritual
sense - is always referred to in terms of "going up" or "ascending," in keeping with this metaphor of the mountain.)

Perhaps this is why, on several occasions, the Torah mysteriously says that the people "saw the sounds." Our ears can take in only so many words at once; but our eyes can capture an entire panorama with just one look. The Hebrew word for sounds - "kolot" - can also mean "voices." And so we saw the totality of G-d's "voices" as He presented the entire Torah to us in a "preview" of what was to come.

Seeing is believing; but it is also the first, important step in a lifelong journey to G-d.

 





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