This article was previously published in 2020.
The Creator gives the Israelites three days to prepare for the Revelation at Sinai, and on the third day, it says that the Creator will come down to the mountain. In Aramaic, the word for come down is nachat. However, Onkelos, who translated the Torah from its original Hebrew into Aramaic, uses the word itgalei, meaning that on the third day the Creator will be revealed from within the mountain; just as in the story of the Burning Bush the word that is used was also within - the Creator was revealed from within the Burning Bush. So, what was the secret there, and what is the secret at Sinai?
When we think about the revelation to Moses at the Burning Bush, we often think the Creator chose to come from the Heavens and reveal Himself to Moses there. But that’s not the truth; a direct revelation of the Light of the Creator to Moses had already existed within the physicality of those thorns, as it exists everywhere. So, what actually happened was that the Creator took off the veil, the illusion of this world, from that physical place and revealed something that had always already existed there.
“The direct revelation of the Light of the Creator exists everywhere, always; it is just concealed most of the time.”
The direct revelation of the Light of the Creator exists everywhere, always; it is just concealed most of the time. And there, at the Burning Bush, the Creator decided to remove the veil. Therefore, the prophecy that was revealed to Moses was not something that came from somewhere else, but rather, something that always existed. This is why it says the Creator was revealed from within the Burning Bush. The Creator – and those words, that consciousness, revelation, Light, and miracle – were there all the time. Moses just merited seeing it because the Creator removed the veil.
So, to go back to the Revelation at Sinai, the story is very theatrical; there’s fire, lightning, sounds, clouds, and there is the Revelation of the Light, as well as the Voice of the Creator. Many people think there is a little mountain in the Sinai desert called Mt. Sinai, and the Creator decided that was where to produce this great extravaganza, like on a movie set. But that’s wrong. All that happened there was that the Creator removed the veil from the Israelites, and from the world so that they could see what is actually occurring all the time.
Mt. Sinai wasn’t special. The Creator chose it for the Revelation because what occurred at Sinai occurs everywhere, in not only every other mountain in the world but also in every thing in the world, every table, every plant, just for example. If we could see what is actually happening, we would see Light, fire, clouds, lightning, and hear the Voice of the Creator coming out of everything. But for most of us, as for the Israelites there, it is concealed.
At Sinai, the Creator took off the veil of that one mountain, saying, “Look at what exists all the time.” This means that in every place, at every moment, there is the Revelation of Sinai, there is the direct revelation of the Light of the Creator to us. However, we unfortunately still live in a world of veils, and so we can’t see it. But we need to know that as every one of us sits here, Mt. Sinai is happening all around us; it is a beautiful and powerful understanding.
“At every moment, there is the Revelation of Sinai…”
What’s the practical application of this?
The Revelation at Sinai was not a production that the Creator brought to this specific mountain; the veil of everything that already existed was simply removed. The Ten Utterances that occur in the portion of Yitro are coming out of nature all the time. This means that as we sit here, right now, we can connect to Sinai. Because it’s here: it’s in the table we’re eating at and the cup we’re holding. It’s in everything, and it comes from the Creator.
When we begin to truly understand this, we realize that in every moment, we can have the most elevated experience, no matter where we are in this world. It’s always there; we just have a veil over it. Knowing this, we can make each moment we are in the holiest moment in the world… because Sinai, which is the pinnacle of human spiritual experience, is happening right now; there are just veils over it.
Most of us won’t now go sit at our table and see Sinai coming out of it, with the fire and the Voice of God, but we can taste a little bit of it, and start to realize that we are surrounded by Sinai all the time. And when we realize this, and begin to make a connection, every moment can be holy, every place can be holy, every place can be Sinai. In fact, if we could see what actually happens when the Ark is being opened, when we read a few words of the Zohar, or when we do a true action of sharing, we’d be excited and invigorated for our spiritual work; nobody could stop us! How do we begin to see those things? By fighting, begging, and pushing to remove the veils, and on Shabbat Yitro, we have that opportunity.