The Torah Was a New Beginning

Everything that went before, from the creation of the Universe down to that day, was but the preface to the giving of the Torah.

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
INN:Toras Avigdor

In the third month after the Sons of Israel went forth from the land of Egypt on this day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. (19:1)

This verse is unusual because it does not begin with “And” as is the style of the Torah everywhere (see Breshis 1:2). Also: the following verse states “And they journeyed from Refidim and they came to the wilderness of Sinai,” which is the regular continuation of the narrative, thus making this first verse (19:1) superfluous except for the date. It is thus obvious that the date is being emphasized in the first verse, and to strengthen the emphasis the word “And” is omitted.

This is as if to say that now is a great new beginning that commences with the Giving of the Torah. Everything that went before, from the creation of the Universe down to this day, was but the preface to this event which was now about to transpire. Just as Breshis began without “And,” because it was the great beginning, so also does the episode of the Giving of the Torah not begin with an “And” because it was the great Beginning of the era of Torah.

Actually it can be considered not only the Beginning of Torah but the Beginning of the Universe, because everything that had transpired in the world’s history was a preface to the Giving of the Torah at Sinai.

The Torah was not given in the Holy land, but in the Wilderness. Among the many reasons that could be offered, the following are mentioned.

1) The land was to be given as a reward and encouragement for the study and observance of the Torah; therefore the acceptance of the Torah preceded the land. “And He gave to them the lands of the nations, and they inherited the labor of the peoples. In order that they keep His laws and they should guard His teachings” (Tehillim 105:45).

2) The Torah in the Wilderness demonstrated that the Torah was independent of the land. Even when the nation will be in exile “in the Wilderness of the nations” (Yecheskeel 20:35) they would forever study and fulfil the Torah.

3) “In order not to arouse envy among the tribes” (Mechilta, Yithro 20) the Wilderness was chosen. Thus the Torah was equally incumbent upon every Israelite, and no tribe could feel less obligated, which would have been the case if the Torah had been given in Canaan in the territory of one of the tribes. (A Nation is Born)