Speaking for Himself

D'var Torah by Rabbi Jay Spero


Speaking for Himself

Contact Rabbi Spero at 862-9546 or


In this week’s portion the Jewish people reach their pinnacle, their whole purpose: the receiving of the Torah. It was for this very reason that G-d had created the world: for there to be one nation who would accept upon itself the awesome responsibility of being a light unto the nations.

Now this could only be accomplished by there being an absolute set of values. These are the mitzvos—the commandments. Through thick and thin, through good times and bad, the Jewish people have kept the words of this Torah. Although we underwent genocides and exiles from one country to the next, the Torah has been our guide for living. Sadly, it has been proven throughout the generations that though there are groups of Jews who do not observe the Torah; these Jewish groups eventually die out.

How do we go about the task of connecting ourselves to an event—the giving of the Torah— which occurred over 3300 years ago?

In Parshas Shmos Moshe arrived in Egypt on a donkey. The Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer (a source from the time of the mishna, 200 B.C.E.) comments that this was the same donkey that had been used by Avraham, and the same one that would be used by the Messiah. Obviously, there are many deep meanings behind the idea of this “donkey”; yet what can we glean from it on a simple level? 

The word in Hebrew for donkey is chamor . In Hebrew those same letters also spell out chomer — raw material. This word is often used to connote simplicity. The ideals of Avraham, Moshe and the Messiah, the men who discovered G-d and Judaism, who brought the blueprint of creation (the Torah) down to mankind, and who will come when the Jewish people have perfected the world, essentially are simple concepts. True, there are many levels to the Torah— philosophical, Kabbalistic etc.— yet, unlike many other religions, there is no leap of faith required.

We believe in the Torah because 3300 years ago, G-d Himself spoke to every man, woman, and child of the people of Israel (around 3 million). Moshe didn’t stand up and say: G-d came to me in a vision and told me to give you the Torah. G-d Himself told the Jewish people: “I am your G-d who took you out of Egypt,” forever creating a relationship with us.

No other religion or faith in the history of the world had such an auspicious beginning. There are Bible critics who will say “the Torah was written 1000 years later by the Rabbis”. How can this be logically so? Several times in the Torah G-d exhorts the people to remember that He had taken them out of Egypt, and He had given them the Torah. Were the Torah to have been written hundreds of years later, how would the people have responded to such events? It would be absurd, they would claim, “wait a minute, we just got this thing last week, now the Rabbis are telling me to believe my ancestors got it a while ago? Come on!”

As we know, it is certainly possible to fool groups of people, but to believe an entire nation was fooled in this manner is preposterous.

For 3300 years Jews who have been loyal to the Torah have formed the Jewish people. As distant as we are from the days when we received the Torah, we must strengthen ourselves by remembering how we received the Torah, and G-d spoke not only to those assembled at the mountain, but to all of us.

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