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    The voice went on

    sinaiNo moment in history was so dramatic or meaningful.

    The assembled hosts of Israel stood at the foot of the mountain. From above boomed the mighty voice: “I am the Lord your God”. As the Midrash says, not a creature moved, not a bird sang, the whole creation was hushed into silence.

    But the moment came to an end. The Divine message had been completed. Moses went up upon Mount Sinai to be instructed in the Oral Law. Life in the Israelite camp returned to normal.

    D’varim says, “These words God spoke with a loud voice to all your assembly in the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud and the thick darkness, v’lo yasaf – and He added no more” (Deut. 5:19).

    Rashi does not read these words in the obvious way. He first quotes the Targum, which renders the Hebrew “and He did not pause”, i.e. He did not stop for breath as human beings need to do, “for His voice is strong and goes on continuously”.

    Next Rashi suggests that the Hebrew might mean, “He did not ever again reveal Himself with such publicity”.

    From both interpretations there us much we can learn. From the first comes the assurance that there is no stopping for breath, no gap, in the Divine government of the universe. God is always King. No moment escapes His scrutiny, no creature lacks His compassion and care.

    Yes, the believer sometimes questions God’s decisions or time table, but we know there is a Heavenly plan that operates constantly even though our perception of it is often only partial.

    From the second interpretation we learn that the Divine revelation was a once-only event. There is one Torah, and its teachings are for ever. They are not rendered obsolete or outmoded by events or developments.

    Those who want Judaism “brought up to date” are not nearly as clever as they think.

    Has “Love your neighbour” really lost its relevance? Is “Do not bear false witness” really in need of reinvention?

    Do you really want to cast on the scrap heap the command to have just weights and measures, to keep far from a false word, to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks?

    No new revelation is necessary; humanity should take more notice of the old one!

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