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Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5780

Ein Ayah: The Hatred of Those Who Did Not Get a Potential Gift

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:121)

Gemara: One of the rabbis asked Rav Kahana: “Did you hear what the reason behind the name Har Sinai is?” He answered: “The mountain upon which miracles (nisim) occurred.” “So it should be called Har Nisai? Rather, it was the mountain which was a good omen (siman tov).” “Then it should have been called Har Simanai?” He said to him: Why do you not spend more time with Rav Pappa and Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua, who look into aggadic matters, as Rav Chisda and Rabba son of Rav Huna both said: “Why is it called Har Sinai? It is because it is based on this mountain that sina (hatred) has come to the idol worshippers.”


Ein Ayah: There must be a special reason for the fact that Israel received the Torah specifically in the desert at Har Sinai, in a place that was open to all, as opposed to in the Land that was specifically set aside for Israel.

This shows that the impetus to give the Torah only to Israel was not something that was innate in the physical world but was connected to thought and understanding. Hashem wanted to show that really the Torah is something that is fit and even proper for all of the nations who live on the face of the earth. It is not something that is beyond the reach of a human being, but rather something that is suitable for man. Without the guidance that Torah provides, a person is like an evil beast. Torah is compatible with the spirit of the human being, as all of the elevated elements of the human spirit and all the storehouses of sanctity are hidden within the light of the Torah.

Therefore, it was not stressed at Sinai that Israel has a special characteristic that makes them fit to have dominion over nature and contain the divine light in a manner that other creations do not. And so while special miracles were done for Israel, Sinai does not represent that reality.

One can claim that Israel had a siman tov, i.e., special characteristics, which the people of other nations do not have. However, that too is not hinted at in the name of Sinai. If that were the intention, the Torah would have been given in the Land of Israel and likely on the Temple Mount, which would make our lot in the world the sign that the Torah relates to our qualities.

If the very basis of the Torah required that only we could receive the Torah, the nations would have had no basis for hating the Jewish people for keeping the Torah from them. After all, a person cannot be distanced from something to which he could never draw close. Rather, the fact that the Torah was given at Sinai is an indication that the source of the Torah is the fountain of spring water that is appropriate for all of mankind. This is on condition that they are removed from the ways of evil and are not interested in following their tendencies toward evil and destruction. Because the nations harmed their spiritual form, when they distanced themselves from the Torah [by refusing to accept it], their hatred for Israel began at Sinai. That is the reason that Sinai is the mountain’s name until the mountain of Hashem will be raised and will spread its glory over the whole world, which will be healed, as it says (Tehillim 68:18): “Hashem will be in their midst; Sinai is in the sanctum.”
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