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The entire nation saw the thunder and the flames. (20:15)

The level of prophecy and spiritual perception which Klal Yisrael achieved during the Giving of the Torah was unprecedented.  Indeed, as the pasuk implies,  they were able to “see” the “sounds.”  Although thunder is an invisible sound, Klal Yisrael were able to transcend the barriers of human limitation and rise to a level of superhuman comprehension.  They could now see what is heard under normal physical constraints.  Seeing and hearing are two functions of the human body, each of which projects its own individual level of perception.  One sees with clarity.  To see means to perceive with an unambigious level…

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On the third day…there was thunder and lightning…and the entire people that was in the camp shuddered. (19:16)

Klal Yisrael was not the only one to shudder from the noise.  That awesome sound, the “mysterium tremendum” that accompanied the Revelation and Giving of the Torah, echoed far beyond the periphery of that mountain.  It reached an entire world.  They all gathered together, the kings and princes, the common man and scholar, to offer praise to the Almighty.  The Midrash says that they were scared; they feared for their lives.  They thought the world was coming to an end.  Perhaps Hashem was deluging the world with another mabul, flood.  They went to their “wise man,” seeking  guidance and encouragement. …

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Hashem said to Moshe, “Go to the people and sanctify them…and they shall wash their clothing…You shall set boundaries for the people roundabout… (19:10,12)

The Torah is enjoining people to prepare for the moment of Revelation when they will receive the Torah.  They are to wash their clothes and fix limits around the mountain,  so that no human or animal would be able to come closer.  We may note the distinction of these two mitzvos – washing clothes and cordoning off the periphery of the mountain.  What is the significance for these two forms of preparation for Kabolas HaTorah? Horav Y.A. Hirshovitz, zl, suggests that these two mitzvos serve not only as preparatory agents for Klal Yisrael’s ascent to religious nationhood, they underscore the…

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The entire people responded together and said, “Everything that Hashem has spoken we shall do.” (19:8)

Chazal praise Klal Yisrael’s affirmative response, their ability to accept the challenge of performing Hashem’s command without demanding a rationale.  “Naase v’nishma,”  – “We will do and we will listen,” was the clarion cry of our anscestors as they accepted the Torah.  Chazal cite the awesome reward that Klal Yisrael received for declaring “naase“, we will do, before “nishma,” we will listen.  Indeed, Hashem queried, “Who revealed this secret to My children, a phrase that only the ministering angels use?”  Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves: What difference does it really make?  In the end, they accepted both aspects- to…

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