V’ahavta / וְאָהַבְתָּ
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 4 ¶ “Hear, O Israel! The L-RD is our G-d, the L-RD is one! 5 “You shall love the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We have studied the 613 mitzvot for that past 13 weeks.
In this lesson we have come to the conclusion of our classes on the Commandments for the present. What summary can we find in having studied the 613 mitzvot?
Exodus 19:17 And Moshe brought the people out of the camp to meet with G-d, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
The English version of this text says that the B’nai Yisrael stood at the “foot of the mountain.” The Hebrew text literally reads that they stood beneath the mountain. The question should be why did HaShem hold the mountain over the heads of B’nai Yisrael? Some sources suggest the idea that had Yisrael not accepted the Torah it would have been dropped on them as a means of destruction. Other sources suggest that the Ma’amad Har Sinai was actually the betrothal of Yisrael as HaShem’s bride. This imagery will be the focus of this lesson and post.
The Ancient Jewish wedding and the giving of the Torah
The Jewish wedding demands that the Groom write a Ketubah, marriage contract to his bride. In the Ketubah the Groom must lay out the terms of commitment. Likewise, the Groom must determine and be able to provide for the needs of the Bride. If she accepts the conditions of the Ketubah and a ring she indicates there will be an endless bond between husband and wife.
It is customary for the bride to enter the mikveh before the wedding. At Har Sinai the Jewish people prepared themselves spiritually. They immersed in the mikvah and fasted. The proof that they immersed in a mikvah: (Shmot 19:10) “Sanctify them today and tomorrow and they shall wash their clothing”. Ramban, quoting the Mechilta comments: When the Torah talks about washing clothing, it is referring to ritual immersion.
While it is customary to give the bride a ring HaShem did not give the B’nai Yisrael a ring. What HaShem gave the B’nais Yisrael was a “ring” of sorts. He gave them the Torah. The Torah since the time of Moshe has been read in a continuous cycle. This is the “ring” that HaShem gave to Yisrael. The Groom was to present the bride with something of great value. This can be determined from the story of R’vkah and Yitzach. When R’vkah accepted the ring and bracelets as precious gifts she set the precedent for Jewish weddings. (Gen 24:30)
The Jewish wedding usually begins with a procession towards the chupah. This is usually is done with candles or lighted torches and singing. This is a very tense (nervous) moment for the bride and groom. We must contrast this procession against the story of Matan HaTorah (giving of the gift of the Torah). The B’nai Yisrael marched as a bride to Har Sinai. Her nervousness must have been readily visible (S’mot 19:16). Imagine standing at the foot of the mountain with it suspended over your head. Likewise, the violent voices and lightening we cause for alarm.
Under the chupah the vows of the bride and groom affirm their vows. It was here that both Yisrael and HaShem affirmed their commitment to each other. Yisrael accepted the Torah and HaShem promised that Yisrael would be His prized possession.
You shall love the L-rd with all your heart, soul and resources. Love is the motivation for studying, keeping and living the 613 and the Torah.