I Am Your God: A D’var Torah on Parshat Yitro
10 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2019
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
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