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Parashat Yitro - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Yitro. It contains the most important event in the history of our people - The Revelation at Sinai. In Hebrew this event is known as "Matan Torah" - the Giving of the Torah. I would like to share with you just two thoughts about this Parasha, which is known to you because it contains the Ten Commandments:

First, The Talmud asks: Why do we call the mountain where the Torah was given "Mount Sinai"? They answer because since the Giving of the Torah, hate has come down to the world. The play on words is the fact that "Sin-ah", in Hebrew, means 'Hate'. In view of the hate that the nations of the world have shown to the Jewish people since the Giving of the Torah, we call the place where the Torah was given "Har Sinai" - Mount Sinai. Also, Mount Sin-ah, the mountain of hate.

As we look back over the more than 3000 years since the Giving of the Torah, we are aware of the long struggle of our people among the nations, for no other reason than just because we are Jews who have accepted the Torah. We are also proud that other religions have accepted its teachings, and have made the Ten Commandments a foundation for a just society. We hope for the day when they will also adopt the most important principle of the Torah: "Love your neighbor like yourself," and also adopt Shalom - peace - as the most important teaching in the Torah.

The second point I would like to make is that this event in Hebrew is known as "Matan Torah" - the Giving of the Torah - not "Kabbalat HaTorah" - the Accepting of the Torah. The explanation given is that the Giving of the Torah was a one time event that took place at Mount Sinai. Accepting the Torah, however, studying it and living it, is a work in progress. Every day, we are asked to experience the acceptance of the Torah in our life, through learning and practice.

Open your heart - The Torah is there for the taking.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram