Larchmont Temple Chevra Torah

Questioning faith in the parsha

The Revelation: Responding to Sinai

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Revelation means that the thick silence which fills the endless distance between God and the human mind was pierced, and man was told that God is concerned with the affairs of man; that not only does man need God, God is also in need of man.  It is such knowledge that makes the soul of Israel immune to despair…Thus the word of God entered the world of man; not an “ought to,” an idea suspended between being and non-being, a concession of the mind, but a perpetual event, a demand of God more real than a mountain, more powerful than all thunders….

The spirit of philosophy has often been characterized as the quest of values…What is the spirit of the Bible?  Its concern is not with the abstract concept of disembodied values…Its concern is with man and his relation to the will of God…Judaism is a way of thinking, not only a way of living…[But] Jewish thought is not guided by abstract ideas, by a generalized morality.  At Sinai we have learned that spiritual values are not only aspirations in us, but a response to a transcendent appeal addressed to us…At Sinai God revealed His word, and Israel revealed the power to respond.

[God In Search of Man, pgs 200, 260]
Rabbi Abraham Joshua HESCHEL
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