web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Faience amulets depicting images of Egyptian gods.
Egyptian Culture Rife in Israel ‘For Years’ After Exodus
Latest Judaism Stories
Jewish Holidays' Guide for the Perplexed by Yoram Ettinger

German poet Heinrich Heine: “Since the Exodus, freedom has always been spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

Rabbi Avi Weiss

“Adam” speaks to the universal dimension of the Temple. He is the parent of all humankind.

Perhaps the greatest manifestation of human creativity in the Torah is the building of the Mishkan

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

A 3rd option: No demarcation between bein adam laMakom & bein adam lechaveiro; they’re complementary

The truth is that a mitzvah may not be the result of belief but rather the means to come to believe.

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

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: