Yitro: The date of Matan Torah

Torah from Israel's first Chief Rabbi, the iconic Torah luminary who founded Religious Zionism and Merkaz Harav Yeshiva.

HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zts"l

Judaism Memorial to Merkaz HaRav massacre
Memorial to Merkaz HaRav massacre
צילום: אוסף התצלומים של צדוק בסן.

On what day was the Torah revealed to Israel? 

The majority opinion is that the Torah was given on the sixth day of Sivan. Rabbi Yossi, however, disagreed, arguing that the Torah was given on the seventh of Sivan (Shabbat 86b).

What is the essence of this disagreement? What is the significance of the date of Matan Torah?

Perfecting Creation

Rav Kook explained that the Sages were debating the fundamental goal of the Torah. The sixth and seventh of Sivan correspond to the very first sixth and seventh days in history - the sixth and seventh day of Creation.

Most of the Sages associated the Siniatic revelation with the sixth day of Creation, the day that mankind was created. This connection indicates that the primary objective of the Torah is to complete that act of Creation - the birth of humanity. The goal of Torah is to perfect humanity, to recreate it in a holier, purer form.

Rabbi Yossi, on the other hand, wanted to stress an even higher goal of the Torah. For after the Torah has made its mark on mankind and its ideals have been internalized in the human heart, it will then take root into the innermost soul of the world, uplifting and refining the entire universe.

In terms of this ultimate goal of the Torah, it is fitting that the Torah be revealed to the world on the seventh day, the concluding day of Creation. Through the seventh day, the Torah is linked to the true culmination of Creation - the Sabbath, the day of ultimate perfection and rest.

(Silver from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback). Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV on Shabbat 86b (9:17).), sent by Rabbi Chanan Morrison, ravkooktorah.org)

See also: Yitro: A Pure Revelation