web analytics
July 30, 2014 / 3 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Inclusiveness at the Foot of Sinai

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The Torah tells us that at the moment of revelation all the Jews at Sinai were able to see (Exodus 20:15). Is it possible that of the several million there was not one single person who was blind?

Here Rashi states that in fact a miracle occurred. In his words, “there was not among them a single blind person.” Rashi additionally points out that in fact not one Jew was mute or deaf. After all, the Torah states “and all the people answered” (Exodus 19:8) and that the Jews declared “we will do and hear” (Exodus 24:7).

The full text of the Torah actually reads “and all the people saw the voices.” It is certainly possible to see images, but is it possible to see voices? He suggests the power of the people to see was so profound that it went beyond the usual. In his words, “they saw that which should be able to heard, which is impossible to see at any other place.” In other words, at Revelation the moment was so powerful that they saw what is normally heard. Their vision was so powerful that they even saw voices.

Another thought comes to mind that differs from Rashi’s suggestion. Perhaps at Revelation there were those among our people who were not in perfect physical shape. There may indeed have been some who could not hear. However, the text may be suggesting that even the hearing-impaired were able to overcome this limitation by a greater ability to see. This may be the meaning of seeing voices. Unable to hear, they compensated with their ability to see. Similarly, there may have been those who couldn’t speak or who couldn’t see but were able to somehow, with Gods help, make up for this limitation at this most amazing moment in history.

The idea that those who are handicapped have a place in Judaism is fundamental to Torah. Some of our greatest leaders struggled with limitations. Yitzchak couldn’t see; Yaakov was lame for a period of time and Moshe suffered from a severe speaking handicap. Despite these difficulties, they rose to unbelievable heights.

Which is the greater miracle at the time of Revelation? On the one hand, it certainly reflects God’s intervention if all people, even those who couldn’t see, were given sight at that moment. On the other hand, Revelation, which embraces even those with limitations, makes an extraordinary statement. It teaches us that just as everyone was welcome at Sinai, so too must we do everything in our power to see to it that everyone in our community is embraced.

In the end, the test of our community is the way it reaches out to the most vulnerable – from the forgotten to those who are often cast aside to those with physical or emotional or learning disabilities. “And they saw the voices” reminds us that all Jews, even the most vulnerable, stood at the foot at the most holy space of all.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama escorts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of the Oval Office
Pirated Phone Conversation of Obama Slamming Bibi from Unverified Source
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-072514

Just as the moon waxes, wanes and renews itself, so has the nation of Israel renewed itself through the millennia.

126_masei_web

Parshat Masei: Rabbi Fohrman addresses the age-old question, are we our brother’s keeper?

Hertzberg-072514

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

With a loud and strong voice we must say “no” to individuals who take the law into their own hands.

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text. […]

Hate and Love; Opposite sides of the coin of motivation.

Leaders must be careful to subdue their ego. The cause is larger than the personal concerns of one person.

The story of the spies, in this week’s Torah portion, is viewed as an episode revealing the Jews’ basic lack of faith in God.

Ultimately the Torah is a book that reflects a system of ethics that comes from God.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/inclusiveness-at-the-foot-of-sinai/2014/01/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: