Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why was the Torah NOT given in Jerusalem?

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva

Yeshayahu Chapter 2 states: "The Torah shall go out from Zion, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem." So would it not be logical for Hashem to give us the Torah in Jerusalem, our eternal, united Holy City?

Thus, why did Hashem give the Torah in the Sinai Desert rather than in the Holy Land? The Talmud explains that G-d wanted to demonstrate that the Torah didn't belong to one nation alone or even to one country. The Jewish People are commanded to observe the 613 mitzvot, while the non-Jewish nations are commanded to observe the 7 Noachide mitzvot. For the UN and the EU Hashem G-d says, Keep the Seven and go to Heaven. So therefore the Torah was given in a desert, which is an ownerless place. The Torah was not given in the Land of Israel for that would have meant that it was to be uniquely for the HOLY LAND and the Jewish People.

The Torah was given in a space and place, accessible to all humanity. The purpose of The Revelation at Sinai was to turn a world without Torah, which by definition is a barren desert, into a blooming and productive place for human existence.

Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, is the name of the Parshah in which we read the account of the most important event in Jewish and World history, the Giving of the Torah. It is remarkable that this Parshah has as its title, the name of someone who was not even born a Jew. Yitro was a pagan idol worshiper, but only later in life abandoned his paganism and recognized the One, True G-d.

Why was Yitro chosen to have the Parshah of MATAN TORAH named after him? It is because he is the greatest illustration of what the Torah is meant to accomplish. The Torah's goal is to transform idolaters into believers and pagans into the worshipers of the One True G-d. Judaism is not a restrictive club for born Jews only. Any non-Jew who sincerely desires to embrace Torah true Judaism is welcome.

When the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai and were prepared to accept the Torah, Hashem defined our mission by telling us, "Therefore if you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own, special treasure from among all nations, for all the Earth is Mine, and you shall be to Me a Kingdom of Kohanim and a Holy Nation" (Sh'mot 19).

Yehuda HaLevi wonders about the phrase "a Kingdom of Kohanim“. Surely the Jewish People will not all be kohanim. The l2 tribes were divided into Kohanim, Leviyim, and Israelites. Most Jews are simply Israelites. Why does Hashem say that the Jewish People in its entirety will become a "Kingdom of Kohanim"?

Yehuda HaLevi answers that just as the Kohanim were to be the teachers and leaders for the rest of the Jewish People, so too the Jews have to become the leaders and teachers of the rest of the world. That is the meaning of "... You shall be My own special treasure from among all nations..." (Sh‘mot 19).

We are to be the Kohanim, who will insure that all nations eventually will acknowledge the One True G-d. That's why Hashem says "...for all the earth is Mine" (Ibid.).

We Jews perform our G-d-given task in two ways - Judaism for Jews and those who want to sincerely convert to Judaism and the Torah's 7 Noachide Laws for the gentiles.

This Divine Plan is used by the Talmud to explain why Jews throughout history have been exiled around the globe. The Talmud offers the rationale that the punishment of our exile may have a totally different purpose. "G-d did not exile Israel among the nations but only so converts might join them, as is written, ‘And I, (Hashem), will plant her for Me in the land‘... (Hoshei‘a 2:25). "Surely a man plants a SE'AH [a biblical measure] in order to harvest many KOR" [an even greater measure]. (Pesachim 87b).

Our mission as Jews is to spread the knowledge of the One True G-d, as the prophet Yeshayahu says, "We are to be a light unto the nations."


  1. Just wondering, if "we are to be a light unto the nations", why not continue doing our own sort of kiruv with neighbours, family and friends in the diaspora? Many are doing wonderful Tikkun Olam work. After all, Parshas and haftorah readings ensure that we will be gathered from the far away places we have been scattered to and "planted" in our land when Moshiach is revealed.
    Ms. AP

    1. The exile is over. Our time of being a "light unto the nations is complete." The Torah has been spread throughout the world. Hashem's message is TO COME HOME, NOW.

      The best Kiruv you can do is to save all the Jews from the upcoming devastation and convince them (and yourself) to come home.

      All the Jews may be protected and survive the upcoming devastation, but they will lose everything (home and all your possessions).

      The nicest thing you can do for your neighbors and relatives is tell them the truth -- THE END OF TIME IS HERE AND THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE DEVASTATED. ONLY ONE PLACE FOR A JEW TO BE TOTALLY SAFE AND HAPPY!!!!!!

      Germany in the 1930's is going to look like a picnic soon compared to the world (except Israel). Kiruv complete.

    2. We Jews, suppose to be heardheaded in keeping mitzvot, not in staying outside of Eretz Israel to just practicing mitzvot. Its the same as replacing CHITA AND SEORA WITH CUSMIN. Instead of buying good quality wheat without klipot and unbleached ( to prevent any allergy), wheat is replaced by cusmin!

      Instead of the real thing, ERETZ ISRAEL, the land is in your mind replaced. The galut rabbis call Amsterdam, New York HOME. How can that be? HOME IS YERUSHALAYIM, where Beit ha Mikdash is going to be builded by every Jewish family. Here in Israel. Israel=1948 the proces started, where are you, hiding somewhere between the MITZRIM, so that your empty place here is taken by a notzri or a dog?????

      If you are Jewish,
      Your Jewish NESHAMA DO NOT LEAVE ERETZ ISRAEL, and watch how are you doing there somewhere.
      THE GOLEM, POWER OF US TOGETHER, works just here.
      Here is home, home for a Jew is THE HOLY LANDDDDDDDD.
      A Jew in living in Eretz Israel by just living here (not keeping mitzvot yet) is a pure baby, breathing the SHECHINA.
      A Jew in galut is potential of a Jew, that must practice all the mitzvot to not to forget how to live as a Jew.
      Unfortunately, living outside means living in TUMA, DAY AND NIGHT.

      Hashem choose us to be hardheaded to PEEFORM 613 MITZVOT.
      We perform them in Eretz Israel.

      You practice them outside to not to forget them, dry bones!
      So if you are Jewish by halacha, pkease, please risk your life for that part just to come home=TO LIVE!

      Then you can reunite with your own holiness!
      When mashiah tzidkeinu is crowned, where are you??
      You might die, and come as a gilgul back here, getting reunited with your own neshama here after all, if there is time left for that. YOU KNOW, WHEN EVERYONE IS BUILDING BEIT HAMIKDASH UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF MASHIAH TZIDKEINU, THERE IS NOT MUCH TIME TO LEFT. Have GVURA, YIRAT SHAMAYIM TO DO, YHEN YOU LISTEN. To DO!

  2. Thank you Rav as always for your insightful posts and commentary.

    I, as many, struggle with the idea of moving to Israel due to a challenge which seem out of my hands. I have family in the U.S., and as much as I would like to make Aliyah tomorrow, I have responsibilities that prevent me from just getting up and leaving my family, unconditionally. It would in effect be me abandoning them, which obviously is not realistic.

    Wouldn't making Aliyah if it hurts one's family effectively contradict important laws in the Torah as it relates to honoring family (e.g., kivud av v'eim, or shalom bayit, or other similar examples I may be forgetting)?

    As you know, convincing others of the reality that Moshiach is around the corner, is always an uphill battle. So what is one supposed to do if those around them are not as receptive to this message? I imagine one shouldn't get up and leave for their own sake, and ignore the well being of those close to them. Additionally, as Ms. AP noted above - we are promised that HaShem will redeem us from all 4 corners of the world. So wouldn't it make sense as a comprise to stay in chutz la'aretz until Moshiach is revealed and inspires everyone to come Home?

    - Dovid S.

    1. Read my answer to Ms AP above and my post of tomorrow, B"N.

      There is no greater abandonment of loved ones than to know that devastation and loss of everything is on the way (Hashem's warning), and doing nothing to help them. To say that it is comforting to give your loved ones an extra day, week, month, whatever before they see the worst chaos and suffering imaginable is not being nice to them; it is irresponsible (and it is against the Torah's concept of Ahavas Yisroel).

      Of course, if you don't believe Hashem's messages, that is the worst type of irresponsibility.

  3. Unknown: You are asking interesting questions about which I have very little information. It is of greater importance to a non-Jew and should be easily researched. I suggest that you do just that; have a good time, the answers are out there.