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Fine, it was God or Moses or both of them who spoke to the people of Israel, 600,000 men strong, and gave them–I mean, “about six hundred thousand” (Ex. 12:37). And after the war with Amalek, and the Golden Calf plague, and the killing of “about three thousand” directly by Moses and the Levites (ibid. 32:28), there were left… 603,550 (38:26)–the exact same number to be counted the next year, after the construction of the Tabernacle, even though the 22,000 (or 22,300) Levites were excluded (Num. 1:46). Even though 600,000 able-bodied men was a level achieved by the modern state of Israel only in 1967.

Is Sinai historical? No, nor is it supposed to be, as the Torah is not meant to be a history book. But does it belong to the realm of myth, metaphor or mnemohistory? No; at least, I don’t believe so. Sinai is not history; Sinai is a happening. It is an integral part of the Jewish people, as is evidenced by the Bible itself and all that comes after it. Sinai is continually referenced in Scripture, as are the Patriarchs and the Exodus. There are miracles intertwined in those events, but they take place in a world recognizable to us, unlike Eden, the Deluge and the Tower of Babel. Recognizing Sinai as a real event, an occurrence, a happening is essential to our Jewish identity. The details have been and will continue to be debated for a long time. But that doesn’t change or challenge our identity as souls who stood at Sinai.


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DovBear blogs at: DovBear. For lack of a better metaphor, please consider this blog a very large shabbos table, where we sit together and discuss the parsha, the news, and other events of the day. Sometimes we yell, often we gossip, and, once in a while, the talk turns salacious. Our arguments are lively, but at the end of the day, its all just talk. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press