Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues
Torah Attitude: Parashas Yithro: The number 10
The day the Jewish people accepted the Torah, the entire world came to its purpose. The Torah is the blueprint of the world. Just like fire, water and the sand of the desert is free of charge, so is the Torah available free of charge to anyone who is interested. At the time of the giving of the Torah, when all of Creation reached it purpose, the elements were present in their original form as G'd had created them without any human involvement. The Ten Commandments correspond to the ten Heavenly bodies and the ten major limbs and organs in the human body. The entire Creation was created for the Torah and for the Jewish people who observe the commandments of the Torah.
World fulfilled its purpose
Rashi, in his commentary on the very first verse of the Torah, quotes from the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis 1:6), that the world was created for the Torah and for the Jewish people. We can understand this statement with another quote that Rashi (Bereishis 1:31) cites from the Midrash Tanchuma (1). The Midrash explains that on the sixth day of Creation, the Torah alludes to the sixth of Sivan when G'd gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. The entire world was created on condition that the Jewish people would accept the five books of Moses. Everything was dependant on this auspicious day. For it was then that the world reached its purpose. G'd's raison d'?tre for the world was to create a forum where people would follow G'd's instructions as outlined in the Torah. When G'd decided that the time was ripe to present the Torah to the world, He offered it to all the nations. The only nation that was ready to accept the Torah was the Jewish people. That is why the day the Jewish people accepted the Torah, the entire world came to its purpose.
The Zohar states that the Torah is the blueprint of the world. Therefore, G'd created the world so that those who accepted the Torah should have a place suited to fulfill the commandments of the Torah. When the Jewish people chose to accept the Torah, we became G'd's Chosen Nation and the whole world turned out to have been created for us. This is not an invitation to entitlement but to special obligations and responsibility. By accepting the Torah, we undertook to observe its commandments. We became responsible for each other and must strive to be a light to the nations of the world, as we live according to the instructions of G'd.
The nations of the world are, according to the Torah, only expected to observe the seven Noachide commandments. However, they have the option to join us and accept upon themselves all 613 commandments of the Torah.
In this week's parasha, the Torah relates how the Jewish people arrived at Mount Sinai, and how G'd revealed Himself to the entire nation and told Moses to instruct the Jewish people the Ten Commandments.
Free of charge
A few weeks ago (Torah Attitude Va'Eira) we discussed how the four elements are the basis of everything G'd created. It is interesting to note that all the elements were present at the time of the revelation at Mount Sinai. Not only was there air and earth, there was also fire and water. The Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 1:7) points out that Mount Sinai was smoking, as it says (Shemos 19:18): "And all of Mount Sinai was smoking because G'd had descended upon it in fire." The Midrash further quotes from the song of Devorah where she describes that the revelation and says (Shoftim 5:4): "The earth trembled, even the Heavens dripped, also the clouds dripped water." The Midrash continues to explain that just like fire, water and the sand of the desert is free of charge, so is the Torah available free of charge to anyone who is interested.
At the time of Creation G'd created everything from these four elements. At the time of the giving of the Torah, when all of Creation reached it purpose, the elements were present in their original form as G'd had created them without any human involvement. This may be one of the reasons why G'd gave the Torah in the wilderness, far away from any human civilization.
Creation and Mount Sinai
There is another apparent connection between the time of Creation and the revelation at Mount Sinai. Rabbeinu Bechayei elaborates on the significance of why G'd specifically gave us ten commandments. On a simple level he explains that ten is the ultimate complete number, for after ten the sequence starts with the units of one to nine again, and so on. He further explains that all 613 commandments of the Torah are hinted to within the Ten Commandments, as represented by the 613 letters in the Ten Commandments. He later adds that the additional seven letters represent the seven lower sefirot through which everything in this world emanates.
Rabbeinu Bechayei follows in the footsteps of Eben Ezra and explains that the Ten Commandments correspond to the Creator and the nine Heavenly bodies that each rotate in their orbit (see Rambam Laws of the Basics of Torah, Chapter 3). The later commentaries explain that G'd created each of these Heavenly bodies to have an effect on Earth, and as such they each have their unique part in the way G'd conducts the world's affairs. The Ten Commandments, says Rabbeinu Bechayei, also correspond to the ten major limbs and organs in the human body. This is very understandable, for the Kabbalists explain that the body is a microcosm that parallels everything in the world at large. In conclusion, says Rabbeinu Bechayei, the Ten Commandments correspond to the total of ten sefirot.
Creation created for the Torah
This teaches us that the ten plagues in Egypt and the Ten Commandments are both connected with the ten sayings through which G'd created the world and correspond to the ten sefirot. The ten plagues showed how G'd is in control of every part of His Creation. And at the revelation at Mount Sinai G'd gave mankind ten commandments that instruct us how G'd wants man to conduct himself to bring the world to its purpose. The only nation that was ready to accept these instructions was the Jewish people. This is why the Torah in the very first verse hints that the entire Creation was created for the Torah and for the Jewish people who observe the commandments of the Torah.
These words were based on notes of Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.
Shalom. Michael Deverett
P.S. If you have any questions or enjoyed reading this e-mail, we would appreciate hearing from you. If you know of others who may be interested in receiving e-mails similar to this please let us know at email@example.com .
Shema Yisrael Torah Network