Posted on January 23, 2011 by Tamara Frankel
I hope you are well. This past week has been quite a busy one and at times, a difficult one for me. My cousin’s father, Eli Bellaiche z”l, passed away last week after a trying battle with cancer. He was an incredibly sweet and loving husband, father and grandfather and although we didn’t know each other very well and had a language barrier between us, I will certainly miss his mischievous and kind smile. May his memory be for a blessing.
This past week also marked the anniversary of my father, Peter Frankel’s, Bar Mitzvah. I remember my grandparents z”l always used to reminisce how that Shabbat was so horribly cold in Montreal.
In this vein, I’d like to dedicate this week’s parsha email in honour of my dad, Peter Frankel, and in loving memory of Eli Bellaiche. Both of them have modeled what it means to be a link in the chain of the Jewish People and their love and commitment to family, Torah and mitzvot.
Now, let’s turn to the parsha! The defining element of Parshat Yitro is the Revelation at Sinai and the infamous “Ten Commandments”. (Note: Charleton Heston does not appear anywhere in the Bible.) Naturally, our attention is fixed on this pivotal moment in Jewish history. And as readers of the text, we wonder: Did Revelation at Sinai happen? And if so, what exactly happened at that mountain?
To my mind, the fundamental question raised in last week’s parsha is this: what is so significant about this event (Revelation at Sinai) in our collective memory?
I cannot answer this question. It is a mystery, maybe a matter of faith. HOWEVER, in reading Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary (2001) on the parsha last week, I came across a number of revelatory insights (excuse the pun!) on the Revelation at Sinai and I’d like to share them with you. Many of them are not necessarily related to one another, but I believe that they can offer the “parsha reader” gateways to this mysterious meaning of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
I hope that these teachings will prompt further thinking and conversation and bring meaning to the content and context of the Revelation at Mount Sinai.