Parshat Bamidbar

A floating chocolate Har Sinai: a chocolate shell covers chocolate mousse topped with coffee cream, all resting on a thin sponge cake layer.

This week’s dessert is inspired by the Wednesday ladies parsha class. This week’s shiur covered the census discussed in Bamidbar (and see here for an explanation for the census) but, in anticipation of Shavuoth we also discussed the events around the giving of the Torah.

When Bnei Yisroel as asked if they are willing to take on all the mitzvot commanded by Hashem, they agree, responding as one, “Na’aseh V’Nishmah” (we will hear and we will do). But, before giving the Aseret HaDibrot, Hashem lifts up Har Sinai and holds it over Bnei Yisroel, telling them that they must accept the Torah: “The Holy One held the mountain over them like a bucket and warned them: If you accept the Torah–good. And if not–here you will be buried!”(Shabbat 88a)

Why? If Bnei Yisrael were willing to accept all the mitzvot, why were they forced to accept?

Because accepting the Torah was not really optional. Bnei Yisrael could not accept the Torah just because they liked the idea and wanted, of their own free will, to do so. They needed to understand that keeping mitzvot is more than “a nice thing to do,” but the basis of existence, without which they would cease to be.  (see RavKookTorah.org for a nice discussion of this concept)

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