By: Rabbi Dovid Markel
The 6th day of Sivan commemorates not only the giving of the Torah, but the Sinai revelation. Though we often view them as one and the same, in truth, they mark two distinct phenomena.
In the Pesach Haggada, during the famous “Dayenu” section a perplexing line is found: “If you would have brought us to Mt. Sinai and not given us the Torah—it would have been enough.”
What would have been accomplished in bringing us to Mt. Sinai and not giving us the Torah? Would it really have been enough? Is not the entire purpose of coming to Mt. Sinai the receiving of the Torah? Is there anything that would have been achieved by the mere standing at a mountain?
There are various ways that this questioned is answered:
- When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they were affected by the sin and a zuhama (filth) entered them, which no amount of spiritual refinement could cleanse. This impurity was passed on to the generations that followed. However, when the Jewish people stood by Mt. Sinai and perceived the tremendous level of G-dliness—a level of G-dliness that had never yet been experienced in the world—they were cleansed from this filth.Without this uncleanliness, the Jewish people were all veritable prophets.Had the Jewish people only experienced this cleansing process, standing at Mt. Sinai would still have been a tremendous occurrence.
- When the Jewish people stood by Mt. Sinai, they became “like one person with one heart,” due to the intense revelation of G-dliness which was present. This unity which was created among the Jewish people was already worthy enough to set this moment apart as a transformative event in our history.
- By the giving of the Torah there were two parts: the revelation of G-dliness, and the actual giving of the Torah. If there would have only been the revelation of G-dliness, it would have already have been the greatest mass revelation that the world had experienced. Parenthetically, it is this mass revelation that sets the Jewish people aside from all other religions and establishes the historical veracity of the Jewish tradition.
- There were two stages by the giving of the Torah: the first was the declaration of the Ten Commandments, and the second, the giving of the actual stone Tablets along with the rest of the Torah. Even if G-d had only told over the Ten Commandments to us and had not given us the Tablets or the rest of the Torah—that would have sufficed.
- The giving of the Torah is defined by the fact that the Jewish People received total jurisdiction over its rulings. Only Jewish People who live in this physical world with physical bodies, have the right to pass legal rulings in Torah law. Therefore, even if they had only come to Mt. Sinai and “the Torah was not given to them,”—i.e. the right to pass legal rulings was not passed on to them, but they were just told its laws—it would have been a tremendous occasion.