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The Day that Nothing Happened

Sometimes Doing Nothing can be the Most Strenuous Activity of All -- Exploring the Essence of Torah

1 hr 6 min

Class Summary:

"The 19th chapter of Exodus describes the final week of preparation for the reception of the Torah at Sinai. By analyzing the Torah's account, the Talmud pieces together the following chronicle of events for these six days, the 1st through the 6th of Sivan:" "Sivan 1: The day we arrived at Sinai: “Moses did not say anything at all to the Jewish people, since they were weary from the journey.” " "Sivan 2:At dawn, Moses ascends Mount Sinai. He brings back the following message from G-d: “You have seen what I have done to Egypt, and how I bore you upon the wings of eagles and brought you to Myself. Now, if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My chosen treasure from among all the nations, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” With these words, G-d expressed His desire that we become His “chosen people.” The day is accordingly marked in our calendar as Yom HaMeyuchas, “The Day of Designation.”" "Sivan 3: G-d commands Moses to fence in the mountain, marking the boundaries where everyone is to stand when G-d reveals Himself upon the mountain and gives them the Torah. Moses may approach closer than Aaron, who may approach closer than the kohanim (priests), who may approach closer than the rest of the nation. " "Sivan 4: The Jewish people are told to purify and sanctify themselves by suspending marital relations and immersing in a mikveh, a ritual bath. Sivan 5: Moses builds an altar at the foot of the mountain and seals the covenant between G-d and Israel. The entire people proclaim, “All that G-d commands, we shall do and we shall hear (comprehend).” " "Sivan 6: The Giving of the Torah: “When morning came, there was thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud upon the mountain... The voice of the shofar sounded, growing stronger and stronger... G-d descended upon Mount Sinai ... and spoke the following words, saying: ‘I Am G-d your G-d, who has taken you out of the land of Egypt…’” " "But there is something strange: From the moment that Moses brought them word of the promised redemption, the Jewish people awaited the revelation at Sinai. From the day they left Egypt, the Jews literally counted the days to the morning on which they would behold the reality of G-d and be granted the liberating truth of truths. In light of this, the events—or rather, the non-event—of the 1st of Sivan is most difficult to understand" "This was the day on which “Moses did not say anything at all to the Jewish people, since they were weary from the journey.” But human nature is such that the closer one comes to an anticipated point in time, the stronger one’s yearning and desire becomes. Why, after six weeks of anticipation and preparation for the great day, would everything screech to a halt merely because the Jewish people were “weary from the journey”? Why would they not do “anything at all” in preparation for their receiving of the Torah, on the very day on which they arrived at Mount Sinai?" "This class will take us on a journey onto the essence and meaning of Torah. What exactly occurred at Sinai? Why is the study of Torah considered the highest ideal? Then we can discover how the silence on the first day of Sivan actually constituted the deepest preparation for Sinai. It was the silencing of the Jewish mind to absorb the gift of infinity."

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  • CDOR

    Chaya daughter of Renee -10 years ago

    Jewish Mission Statement
    Never buy retail.

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  • C

    carmela -10 years ago

    terrible and cruel article?

    the dark picture drawn in the top comment above, just proves that we need to sacrifice a lamb not only  in the morning,when everything shines brightly.demonstrates that we have to come close to G-D also at the darkest times, in the evening (in Hebrew Sacrifice is KORBAN .the word derives from KAROV which means close).the sacrifices we make in life for ideals or for other people, bring us closer to them !!!


    to praise Your goodness, your virtues in the morning, when our life is good .recognizing all is from Him.But also be a believer in the nights, when it is dark,cold, lonely, dangerous!!! do not lose your faith. your relationship with G-D is unconditional, not subjected to any situation,'' good or bad''. He is always there even when it is  you who  don't feel His presence!!! 

    the daily sacrifice reminds us constantly our humility and gratefulness to G-D. our deeds convey our unbreakable spiritual connection with Him. when we have it good (morning sacrifice) we are to remember it is from Him that we have it so good. when we have it bad (evening sacrifice) we are to remember we are not alone in the dark !!! the two sacrifices also remind us that what happens between the time from one sacrifice to the other,  that too is from Him.

    stay when it shines, stay when it rains.stay regardless what  the circumstances are !really be there !!!

    in the daily wearout,for better for worse.totallt committed. not interested according to your mood. but committed. fully committed.

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  • E

    Eliyahu -10 years ago

    A deeper look perhaps reverse matters a bit
    Might I suggest that on careful analysis, the three prior opinions of the essence of the Jewish mission do not correspond to the properties of the vehicle, but rather its crucial cargo that must be safely carried to the end of history -- which may well be now.  As such, Judaism becomes, as it were, a physical vehicle instituted for transportation.  And as such, it must be consistent and reliable, until its destination when the Jewish nation, as Israel, must indeed, truly carry out its mission.  [During the week, the Beadle is indeed more important than the Rav.  But on Shabbos, the Rav finally comes to his proper place in the foreground.]

    1 - Man was made in G-d's image -- We are obligated in Imatateo Deo.

    2 - Know that G-d is One/Unity -- The supreme goal -- Unity.  [The Talmud relates that "a Roman matron" asked, what does G-d do since creation (is -- "I AM" -- existence -- source of the creation of the Universe, and Israel...).  Replied the sage, he does match-making (Unity).]

    3 - "Love your fellow as yourself" -- Bingo! (to paraphrase Rabbi Akiva on this (THE essence of positive mitzvah, bestowal) -- but of course Hillel, "What is hateful to you, do not do unto your fellow" (THE essence of prohibitive mitzvah, selfishness)).  In sum, the right draws in more powerfully, but the left pushes away -- Unity that bonds toward the purpose of Creation, but not that negates (destroying Creation).

    And so our true mission -- Unity -- mutual guarantee and responsibility.  This not out of fear of a common threat (a love for a reason leaves when the reason does), but rather independent of any other cause.  That Unity at Mount Sinai gain us the Light of Torah, and will make us once again the Ohr HaGoyim (Light unto the Nations) -- changing the darkness of antisemitism into the pinnacle of love between Israel and the nations, as teacher and students, as husband and wife, Light and Vessel.

    Thus will Adam be again in G-d's image...

    So it is that the framework of Judaism in its simple sense of corporeal perception -- maintenance of the tradition -- is the most crucial until the end of history.  It is the Halacha.  Similarly, "These and these are the words of the Living G-d, but the law is according to Hillel."  That is, until the Messianic Age when the Halacha will be according to Shamai.  Today is gestation in an unbroken chain of 9 months, tomorrow is birth...or is it today?

    The Rebbe taught that the time of Moshiach has arrived.  Is it not our duty, in unity, to open up the car door -- spreading our fingers as a nation of Cohanim should -- and bring forth the Light of Moshiach though that Unity and unto the nations?

    The nations struggle desparately with globalization.  It requires mutual guarantee too, as globalization's interdependence and mutual responsibility is upon all Humanity.  But individual humans are trapped in their own ego, the connections thus grinding in chaos rather than being smoothly made.  Unlike the Babylon of Avraham Avinu's days, there is not longer any place to run for people who cannot talk to each other -- who do not sense each other's heart.

    Judaism has brought us with Avraham's message and method intact to this time.  Now, upon that base, at a higher level, we must truly begin carrying it out -- for this is why the Jewish nation was created ...


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  • M

    michael -13 years ago

    can you please leave the pictures up without the "arrow" icon in the middle- they are beautiful pictures that i like to file along with the shiur- but the arrow takes away from the picture

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  • D

    Dovid -13 years ago

    Maharal's birth year
    If I am not mistaken, the birth of the Maharal was in 1512. He lived approximately 97 years. Thank you. Keep up and increase the good work.

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  • M

    miriam -13 years ago

    I saw this essay as a video exactlu 1 year ago. It was shortly after my grandmothers passing and made me realise how much she embodied this teaching It touched me deeply and I have since tried to apply the lesson of consistency and self discipline in my daily life. May Chana Yenta bas Gershon Hakohen have an Aliya and may we all immediately be reunited with our loved ones with the complete and true Redemption now.

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  • AN

    Adam Neira -13 years ago

    The Mission
    World Peace 2050 !

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  • Y

    YYJ -13 years ago

    To Seymore
    Yes, all of them are consitent. but they are not ABOUT consistency. they do not represent the idea of consistency. Each of them rather represents a great ideal of Torah. in this verse however we learn that the essence of the Jew is his or her consistent service, commitement and sacrafice on a daily basis. the very verse denotes the depth and power of the consistent relationship with G-d.

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  • S

    seymore -13 years ago

    In response to the Dvar Torah, don't the other 3 Pesukim apply on a constant basis as well ? I thought the Dvar Torah was going to say, that since we have naase V'nishma, the 4th Pasuk is the lease logical, but we should practice Torah because G-d wants us to, and that's it. Not because it is logical.

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  • A

    Anonymous -13 years ago

    terrible and cruel article
    As for the midrash -- offering a sheep in the morning when there is no one there to eat it is as pointless as offering one in the afternoon. But who knows? maybe some one will show up. He left a cookbook.

    On the other hand we Jewish followers are the sheep. And we'll be slaughtered in the morning and the afternoon. Again.

    Blame it on the primitive state of the goyim; blame it on HaShem's direct curse; or blame it on our inability to find the freedom not to be sheep.

    Where else can you see such confusion of will, heart, and mind? The advanced missile systems that neutralize Israel's navy and air force are lined along the mountains and coast of Lebanon. The bunkers are dug deep in Gaza and Lebanon. Iran is on its way to a nuclear warhead and the missiles that will reach Israel and the US is negotiating with Iran for a cap on oil prices at $150 a barrel.

    The gods of Egypt have outsmarted us again and we stand like sheep for the second holocaust - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

    Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. France reneges on its pledge to keep Hizbullah out of Southern Lebanon. Javier Solano wants more time to negotiate with Iran. Egypt makes no effort to stop weapons transport into Gaza. And we fall asleep once in the morning and once in the afternoon waiting for Whoever didn't eat lunch to eat dinner and straighten out this mess as a compliment to the chef or nostalgia for old time's sake.

    Yes we have a compulsion to maintain loyalty to a divine being who has abandoned the covenant, wiped us out with a flood, expelled us from the garden, led us into slavery, cursed us on the way out and forced Moses to prophecy our debasement. Why did He create us as servants to confuse our will, confuse our heart, and block higher awareness by our conviction of our inadequacy and defectiveness?

    It makes us good butlers, good servants, loyal slaves. Or should we say sheep?

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  • M

    malachi -14 years ago

    as per jack's correction posted 5/12/2010 at 3:06PM....i believe he is correct in his comment regarding "preceeded by silence" vs. "followed by silence" unless i really missed something...please clarify this...on a broader note, these shiurim are absolutely wonderful...G-d bless you in all ways, always to go from strength to strength

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  • G

    Greg -14 years ago

    mp3 works
    Mp3 works fine on my iPhone(3g) I've been listening to r. Jacobson since the opening and never had issues, only lots of pleasure :)

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  • J

    jack -14 years ago

    At the end you said that the the internanilazation has to be "followed by silence." You meant to say "preceeded by silence." first comes the "betul" the surrender, to the absolute sublime component of Torah, that happened on rosh Chodesh, then after that comes the work of the five days to prepare with your identity for Torah.
    this theme was explained beautifully and very powerfully.

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  • Y

    ycm -14 years ago

    Thank you!

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  • A

    Avraham -14 years ago

    Can you please record a youtube version so I can see on my iphone.
    The MP3 as well does not work on my iphone

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  • I

    issac -14 years ago

    That is such an original way of understanding the gemarah, that moshe not telling them anything was in itself his greatest message! that too was a communication, the ability to be silent in the presence of a titanic gift of love, because it required of them a journey of "weakness," of self nullification, opening themselves up to G-d. powerful.

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  • KK

    Kayo Kaneko -14 years ago

    The Love Letter from HaShem
    Baruch HaShem,

    You opened my heart.

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