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At the time of the revelation at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the wilderness, an unprecedented revelation of the magnificence and awe of G-d was sensed throughout the world, not only at the foot of the mountain. Just like the events in the desert, this, too, was a one-time event; never since the world came into being had G-d revealed Himself to His creatures so distinctly and powerfully.
There at Sinai, the Jewish nation was elevated to the highest levels of prophetic insight.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides, the renowned scholar of the twelfth century known as the Rambam, writes that the extent of G-d’s revelation at Sinai exceeded even the miracles performed in Egypt in preparation for the Exodus. He describes this a spiritual experience, perceived by the soul, not by the eye, and therefore not given to dispute or contradiction.
Although “seeing is believing”, we occasionally exclaim: “I can’t believe my eyes!” In this case, the perception was experienced directly by the inner soul, so that its validity was uncontestable.
Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzato, author of Daas Tevunos, writes that in the time of the ultimate redemption, mankind will once again experience a clear perception of G-d’s sovereignty. No one will feel the need to clarify whether or not the world has a Creator, or whether He is actively involved in the day-to-day and minute-to-minute supervision of human affairs. It will be self-evident to one and all, perceived by a knowing heart that requires no external proofs. No signs and wonders will be needed, because the world will be filled with knowledge and wisdom, as the prophet declares:
…for eye to eye shall they see when the L-rd returns to Zion..
At Sinai, the Jewish nation achieved prophetic insight similar to that of prophets and angels. Someone who is aware of G-d through his own, personal experience of His presence, has no doubts as to His existence and His infinite powers. The Torah describes this experience:
The L-rd spoke with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire …
The purpose of this revelation was to implant irrevocable faith in the Jewish soul for all ages. Had this faith been based on miracles performed by Moses, there might have arisen some degree of doubt centuries or millennia later, when man began to doubt that these reputed miracles actually took place.
At Mount Sinai, the people experienced G-d’s presence in a manner that could never be forgotten or denied.
G-d revealed Himself directly to the generation of the Exodus. However, its benefit was to be the heritage of all future generations as well. He commanded those at Sinai, and their descendants, for all time:
Take heed to yourself, and guard your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children, the day that you stood before the L-rd your G-d at Horeb …
Deuteronomy 4: 9-10
One of the 613 precepts handed down to the Jewish people at Sinai is the obligation to preserve the memory of this unique revelation that changed the history of mankind for all time.
The nation standing at the foot of Mount Sinai that day numbered approximately three million souls -- men, women, and children. Heaven and earth trembled from the force of G-d’s voice, and the mountain was enveloped in fire. There were sounds and sights which no human being had ever experienced before — lightening, the clouds of glory and the sound of the shofar horn filled hearts with dread and awe at this unique revelation of G-d’s powerful presence. G-d opened all seven layers of the Heavens and the depths of the universe.
The entire nation witnessed His utter mastery of the universe, as the Scripture states: “You have been shown to know that … there is none beside Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).
The Giving of the Law at Sinai left an indelible legacy in the hearts of the Jewish People. For thousands of years, this heritage was safeguarded by Jewish parents to their children and grandchildren, in an ongoing chain that has reached us yet today.