web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 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
Fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked radical Islamist Al-Nusra rebel group in Syria.
Sources: Al Qaeda Bombed Hezbollah and Framed Israel
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In her diary, Anne Frank wrote words that provided hope for a humanity faced with suffering.

Leff-042415

The Arizal taught this same approach, making the point that the Torah would never mention wicked people and their sins if there was not great depth involved from which we are to learn from.

Staum-042415

Humility is not achieved when all is well and life is peachy but rather when times are trying and challenging.

In order to be free of the negative consequences of violating a shvu’ah or a neder, the shvu’ah or neder themselves must be annulled.

“I accept the ruling,” said Mr. Broyer, “but would like to understand the reasoning.”

He feared the people would have a change of heart and support Rechavam.

Ramifications Of A Printers Error
‘The Note Holder’s Burden of Proof’
(Kesubos 83b)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

“What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” my husband remarked. “Well, baruch Hashem we are safe, there was no accident, and I’m sure there is a good reason for everything that happened to us,” I mused.

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

Myth that niddah=dirty stopped many women from accepting laws of family purity and must be shattered

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

Rabbi Fohrman connects the metzora purification process with the korban pesach.

The day after Israel was declared a State, everyone recited Hallel and people danced in the streets.

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Myth that niddah=dirty stopped many women from accepting laws of family purity and must be shattered

Rabbi Moshe Weiss

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

Unless ritual is introduced, the Shoah will be remembered as a footnote in history in 100 years

Dayenu is not a song of complaint; it is rather a song of thanksgiving to God.

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

“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

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: