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EVENTS AT MOUNT SINAI WERE UNIQUE
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The type of revelation at Mount Sinai will never be repeated.

 

Over three thousand years have gone by since the Jewish People gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Torah from G-d.  From the moment when the world was first created, and down to this very day, no other nation, ethnic group, or religion has put forth a claim to a divine revelation to an entire nation.  The Jewish People are the only group in history who put forth a claim to a national revelation.

What difference, you might ask?

Let us explain:

The Torah itself not only describes the events at Mount Sinai, but also declares categorically that this type of revelation - to an entire nation - revelation will never be repeated.

For ask now of the days past, which were before you, since the day that G-d created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there has been any such thing as this…  Did ever a people hear the voice of G-d speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?

It was shown to you, that you might know that the L-rd, He is G-d; there is none else beside Him.

Out of heaven He made you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; and upon earth, He made you see His great fire; and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire.

Deuteronomy 4:32-34

Each of the world’s great religions asserts that it was party to some sort of Heavenly revelation, but none – except Judaism – lays claim to a massive event like the giving of the Torah in the presence of the entire nation.  What is more, this claim is related in the Torah itself, and the Torah urges us to investigate the matter: Did any other nation witness a similar, wholesale revelation?

Sinai was an imparting of prophetic knowledge accompanied by strong blasts of the shofar and the sight of flames in the heavens.  Six hundred thousand men of military age witnessed the stance at Sinai.  Together with their wives and families, the number of people present at Sinai surpasses one million.

Throughout the ages, selected individuals merited the level of prophecy, but at the time of Sinai, every member of the nation, without exception, witnessed and heard the Divine revelation. It was at once sublime, clear, and undeniable. It left an indelible impression on all who witnessed the giving of the two stone tablets which bore the Ten Commandments given to the People of Israel.

The purpose of this divine revelation is explained in the Torah itself: “You have been shown to know that the L-rd is your G-d; there is none other beside Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).  The sights and sounds of Sinai created in the Jewish heart an indelible impression which is passed on from generation to generation, and will never be completely eradicated. The Torah commands us to pass down this faith from generation to generation until the end of time.

In the twelfth century, the Jewish community in Yemen suffered from extreme religious persecution.  A fanatic Shi’ite Moslem rebel rose to power and demanded that the Jews convert to Islam on pain of expulsion or death.  In their desperation, the Jewish community turned to one of the leading authorities of their day, and, indeed, of all time, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, (Maimonides), also known by the acronym of his name, as the Rambam.

Rabbi Maimonides urged the people to remain true to the faith of their fathers.  In the year 1172, he sent them a lengthy message of encouragement and an explanation of the correct response to the threat hanging over their heads.  We quote here a portion of that letter which mentions the events at Sinai:

Keep in mind that G-d commanded us to remember and never to forget the Revelation on Mount Sinai.  He instructed us to teach about this even to our children so that they will grow up with this lesson etched in their minds.  As it is written:

Only guard yourself, and diligently watch your soul, lest thou forget the things which your eyes saw, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; and you shall  make them known unto your children and your children's children — the day that you stood before the L-rd your G-d in Horeb, when the L-rd said to me: 'Assemble the people to Me, and I will make them hear My words that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.'

                                                                       Deuteronomy 4:9-10

It is essential, my dear brothers, that you impress on your children’s minds this momentous stance at Sinai.  Proclaim its overriding significance at mass meetings.  Stress that it is the cornerstone of our faith and the proof of its validity.  Emphasize the pivotal importance of this event, as G-d did in the Scriptures:

Ask about times long past, going back to the time that G-d created man on earth, and from one end of the heavens to the other.  Investigate and clarify whether anything as great as this has ever happened or whether its like has been heard of.

Deuteronomy 4:32

Remember, my fellow Jews, that the divine origin of the Torah is substantiated by the best of possible evidence.  Never before the Giving of the Torah, nor after it took place, did an entire nation witness G-d’s presence as did the People of Israel at Sinai.  The purpose was to firmly implant faith in G-d in our hearts, so that nothing can shake it…

The most conclusive proof of the divinity of Torah lies in the manner in which it was transmitted to the Jewish People: publicly, in the presence of an entire nation.  An event of such proportions cannot be a product of imagination, falsification, or historical duplicity.  This method of transmission, as documented in the Torah, is foolproof.  It cannot be counterfeited.

The Torah itself throws out a challenge to would-be contenders of its authenticity, as we see in the above quotation of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon: "Investigate and clarify whether its like has even been heard of."

The Torah was given not to an individual, and not to a select group, but in the presence of the entire nation, so that in the years, centuries, and millennia to come, no one would be able to refute the facts.  No other nation or sect has ever claimed a mass revelation that begins to compare with the events at Sinai.

Had the Torah been given to Moses alone, to be passed on by him to the entire nation, there would be room for doubt.  Future generations might claim to produce a leader of Moses' stature, someone also capable of performing miracles like the ten plagues.  If so, this new "prophet" would therefore claim to be qualified to override the teachings of the Torah.

However, no one can claim a revelation that compares with the events at Mount Sinai.  And, just at the Torah predicts, no individual and no ethnic or religious group throughout the history of mankind has laid claim to such a mass revelation.  An event of such proportions and of such magnitude as described in the Torah cannot be "staged" by even the most talented entrepreneurs.  Only the Creator Himself could bring about such events, so that the testimony of the Torah about the day the entire nation stood at Sinai, remains irrefutable yet to this very day.


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