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What’s the big deal about Sinai



If you think about it for a second, why was the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai so momentous? It wasn’t as if no-one had ever heard of the Torah before. The Torah we received at Sinai had already been in our national possession for many generations. Our forefathers and mothers studied and fulfilled the Torah, observing its every law and ordinance.

This also wasn’t the first time G-d had instructed the Jews to observe the mitzvot. As a nation, they received 10 mitzvot in Marah, just days after they left Egypt.

What makes the Giving of the Torah on Sinai so unique that more than 3 000 years later, we’re still celebrating it annually on Shavuot?

During that extraordinary experience on Mount Sinai, it wasn’t only that Hashem was gifting us the Torah and all its details, but rather that the giving of the Torah fundamentally shifted the relationship between the spiritual and the physical.

No longer would those two worlds be completely separate and isolated. At Mount Sinai, G-d descended onto the mountain, broke the schism between the spiritual and the physical, between the godly and the mundane, and tasked each of us with bridging the gap between the two.

Our mission in this world, received by every one of our souls at Sinai, is to live a physical life, having ordinary human experiences while infusing every moment with spiritual purpose, intent, and meaning.

It’s easy to have a spiritual experience in a spiritual place. That’s the role of the angels. But G-d desired something much greater than that. He wanted a home in this physical world – where G-d felt comfortable, created by us flawed, physical humans.

How do we create a spiritual home for G-d in this physical world? Through the Torah. Through our study of its teachings and our performance of the mitzvos, we create a sacred space for Hashem.

And it’s not just a job for the Torah scholars and the great leaders of each generation.

The Ten Commandments are written in a singular construct, “Anochi Hashem elokecha” (I’m Hashem, your G-d) – “you” being singular. Speaking to one person.

Who is G-d speaking to? He’s speaking to you. We need to know that G-d is addressing each one of us individually. “I’m Hashem, your G-d” He tells us. I seek a relationship with you personally. Can you create space for Me in your world, your life, and your home?

Here’s the blueprint to build me a home, G-d told us at Mount Sinai. This Torah, these mitzvos, this is how you create a space for Me, G-d instructs each one of us.

This is the miracle at Sinai. Before Sinai, one could learn Torah and one could do a mitzvah. But one couldn’t have an impact on the physical world. A mitzvah didn’t transform the spiritual matter pulsating through every atom of physicality.

The gift each one of us received at Sinai, and receive each year anew on Shavuot, is the ability to change the world around us, one mitzvah at a time.

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