Parshas Yisro 5761 / 2001

by | Oct 17, 2001 | 0 comments

A serious change took place with the Jewish people. When in Egypt, Moshe observed that the people he was to lead were a difficult people. He saw Jews beating each other and informing on each other. He was frustrated by how they didn’t get along, and complained to Hashem about their lashon hara and their whining. He was worried that their negative nature would prevent the redemption. (Rashi Breishis 2; 14)

However, by the time they arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai the Torah reports that they were “like one man with one heart”. They were completely united. What transformed them from critical and whining to loving and brotherly?

It is commonly understood that it was in the merit of Jewish unity at the foot of the mountain that the children of Israel received the Torah. Yet, the question remains: how did they achieve this unity? How did they go from being petty slanderers to a people united?

The answer is, that it was not their unity that brought about the Torah — it was the Torah that gave them unity.

The people of Israel were petty because their lives were petty. They had no goal or vision. They worried about small stuff because there was no larger picture. They were obsessed with the moment because they didn’t see a future. When they realized in their hearts that there was a larger purpose, the paltry issues were shed. Deciding to accept the Torah gave them a sense of purpose and mission. When one has a mission, the little things just don’t matter. At the foot of Mount Sinai, at the threshold of greatness, we found a new perspective. We got a life and we all became one.

If we find ourselves acting in a petty way, if we find that inconsequential things bother us, if we find ourselves so touchy that we draw a wedge between ourselves and the people we love the most, we are probably missing the big picture.

Even after the great epiphany at Mt. Sinai our people began to bicker again. They forgot the big picture. They lost their awareness. They had to recreate Har Sinai over again, as do we. This time from the inside, and this time, with G-ds help, the big picture will get even bigger.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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