Experience Sinai - וילך

Friday, 30 September, 2022 - 2:39 pm

Experience Sinai 

Can you do it alone? 

Can you ensure you will be dedicated to G-d’s word by studying the Torah on your own? 

On the last day of his life, Moses indicated that the answer is no. 

To remain committed to the Torah, we must recreate the experience of Sinai, where all the Jewish people stood together and accepted the word of G-d. Something about the tangible experience of standing in one place, along with many people creates a deep impression on the human psyche. 

Therefore, in our Parsha, Moses commands the people: 

At the end of [every] seven years, at an appointed time, in the Festival of Succoth, [after] the year of release,

When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord, your God, in the place He will choose, you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears.

Assemble the people: the men, the women, and the children, and your stranger in your cities, in order that they hear, and in order that they learn and fear the Lord, your God, and they will observe to do all the words of this Torah.

If the purpose of the gathering was so that a person would hear the content of the words being read, then it would not apply to the scholar, who already knows it, or to the person who would not understand the reading. Yet, Maimonides explains that the commandment of Hakhel applies equally to the scholar who already knows the words of the Torah that will be read as well as to people who do not understand the words being read: 

Even great Sages who know the entire Torah are obligated to listen with exceedingly great concentration. One who is unable to hear should focus his attention on this reading, for Scripture established it solely to strengthen the true faith. He should see himself as if he was just now commanded regarding the Torah and heard it from the Almighty. For the king is an agent to make known the word of God (Deuteronomy 31:10-12).

This year is the year of Hakhel. While we are unable to fulfill the commandment in the literal sense, the objective of the Mitzvah, strengthening our commitment to G-d and the Torah, can certainly be fulfilled even during the time of exile. The Rebbe taught us that the year of Hakhel should be dedicated to bringing people together for a shared Jewish experience. 

This is something that can't be done alone. To experience Sinai you must stand together with others.  

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Lekutei Sichos 19 Vayelch 1 


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