I Am Your God: A D’var Torah on Parshat Yitro

10 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2019

See all articles by Perry Dane

Perry Dane

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School

Date Written: January 26, 2019


What, in the religious imagination, was the point of the Ten Commandments and their dramatic revelation to Israel at Mount Sinai? After all, most of the Ten Commandments consist of the sort of general rules of conduct that the Israelites already knew. In any event, the Torah strongly suggests that Moses began receiving legal revelations from God even before Sinai. One obvious answer is that Sinai was not just an occasion to pass down the law. It was a theophany, a rare, awe-filled, direct encounter with the divine, an appearance of God to human beings. But that just provokes a further question: Why did the theophany at Sinai have to be filled with law?

This D’var Torah’s tentative answer to these questions is that the Israelites did indeed bring their common-sense ideas about right and wrong to Sinai and then learned, amid the thunder and lighting, that the divine reality on the other side of the curtain includes those truths too: that the inner life of the universe is founded on straightforward principles of justice and truth, in addition to love and redemption. That is a revelation worth noting, and celebrating.

Keywords: Ten Commandments, Sinai, theophany, Parshat Yitro, Michael Kinsley, Christopher Hitchens, Midrash, Reformed Epistemology, Scottish Common Sense Philosophy, Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Maimonides, Noachide Laws

Suggested Citation

Dane, Perry, I Am Your God: A D’var Torah on Parshat Yitro (January 26, 2019). Rutgers Law School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3330055 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3330055

Perry Dane (Contact Author)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School ( email )

Camden, NJ
United States
856-225-6004 (Phone)
856-225-6004 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.rutgers.edu/directory/view/dane

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