Covenant at Sinai

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  1. The Two Great Covenants: Sinai and Moab

    Rabbi Dr. Daniel Tropper

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ג | |

    The covenant between G-d and Israel is a basic underpinning of the Jewish tradition. The Torah contains two covenants: one immediately after the exodus, and one immediately preceding entering the Land of Israel. Why is the covenant repeated twice? What can we learn from a comparison of the two?  And what is the relationship between these covenants and the covenant with Abraham?

  2. The Ten Commandments

    Rabbi Yehuda Rock

    The Torah refers to the 'ten' commandments on the two stone tablets - but the division and identification is not explicit. This lesson will offer three divisions based on the Mesorah, and a fourth suggestion for dividing the commandments into ten.

  3. The Two Dibburim of Behukotai

    Rabbi Yehuda Rock

    God speaks to Moshe twice in Behar - Behukotai. This lesson will discuss the time and location of the two instances. Apparently these parshiyot were displaced from their chronological location; we will explain why the parasha was removed, and why it was placed here.

  4. The Third Tablets

    Rabbi Meir Spiegelman

    The four final parshiyot in Vayikra - Kedoshim, Emor, Behar and Behukotai - are a repetition of the Ten Commandments. Why does the Torah repeat the Ten Commandments a second time? Why is the wording different from the wording at the end of Yitro and Va'ethanan? This article raises the theory that these parshiyot were given between the first and second tablets.

  5. God's Covenant With Israel

    Rabbi Elchanan Samet

    The covenant in Parashat Eikev seems to contain a contradiction: the covenant seems to imply that the nation's descendants are not obligated by the covenant, but the covenant also clearly states that it is not only for the current generation, but for future generations as well.

  6. Slavery

    Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein

    Yirmiyahu does not dwell on the damning social issues of his generation; instead he focuses on idolatry and battles against those who leave God. What, then, is the reason behind the prophecy relating to slavery? This haftara demonstrates how the social issue of slavery is a sin against God: taking slaves is a flagrant violation of the unique covenant relating to slavery, and this is the reason behind the severe punishment.

  7. Mishpatim: The Covenant at Sinai (Audio)

    Rabbi Chanoch Waxman | 13 minutes

    This shiur examines the placement of the formalistic “brit” sprinkling of the blood story as it is juxtaposed with Moshe's spiritual mountain ascent. What is the meaning of this juxtaposition? The combination of the two stories, each of which highlights a different side of the religious experience, suggests that legalism does not conflict with spirituality.

  8. The Ceremony of the Stones

    Rabbi Chanoch Waxman | 33 minutes

    What is the purpose and significance of the plastered stones and rough altar to be set up upon entry to the land? Comparing the ceremony at Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal with the ceremony of the Covenant at Sinai, and reviewing Abraham's altars and his Covenant with God upon his entry to the Land reveals that the command in our Parsha is intrinsically connected to both.

  9. The Structure and Significance of the Opening Verses

    Dr. Mordechai Sabato

    Parshat Re’eh opens the Covenant of Arvot Mo’av, which is concluded with blessings and curses. Brit of Arvot Mo’av – a collection of statutes and judgements - is a completion of the Ten Commandments in Horev. The observance of mitzvot entails a blessing and a curse, and the blessing and the curse are part of the conditions of the land.

  10. The Dedication of the Mikdash

    Rabbi Alex Israel

    The Dedication of the Mikdash, the dedication of the Mishkan and Matan Torah at Sinai, the three foundational national events of collective revelation are linked together. This chapter raise several issues rearding the Mikdash:

    • The Mikdash as a place of prayer and a  conduit for all prayer, from near or far 
    • Is the Mikdash a place for God or a place for man?
    • The place of the non-Jew in the Mikdash

    The dedication concludes with God's promise that his sanctity dwelling in the Mikdash is conditional on keeping the Mitzvot. 

  11. You Shall Dwell in the Land in Security

    Rabbi Yair Kahn

    The Torah begins the parsha with the laws of Shmitta, noting that they were given at Har Sinai. This prompts the commentators to ask the famous question: “Mah inyan shemitta etzel Har Sinai?” Why is shemitta found alongside Har Sinai? By examining the nature of the laws of shemitta and yovel, we can understand that they describe a religious ideal of human faith reciprocated by divine providence. They contain a promise of a relationship between God and Am Yisrael. Shemitta and yovel are more than just commandments – they are a context for attaining the blessings of the covenant of Sinai. 

  12. You Shall Dwell in the Land in Security (Audio)

    Rabbi Yair Kahn | 11 minutes

    The Torah begins the parsha with the laws of Shmitta, noting that they were given at Har Sinai. This prompts the commentators to ask the famous question: “Mah inyan shemitta etzel Har Sinai?” Why is shemitta found alongside Har Sinai? By examining the nature of the laws of shemitta and yovel, we can understand that they describe a religious ideal of human faith reciprocated by divine providence. They contain a promise of a relationship between God and Am Yisrael. Shemitta and yovel are more than just commandments – they are a context for attaining the blessings of the covenant of Sinai. 

  13. The Torah's Response to Calamity

    Rabbi Yair Kahn

    The end of the tokhacha - the section of Parshat Behukotai describing the curses that will befall Israel if they do not follow God's laws - contains curses far harsher than what seems justified. What is the explanation for this, and what does this tell us about the true purpose of divine punishment?

  14. The Torah's Response to Calamity (Audio)

    Rabbi Yair Kahn | 15 minutes

    The end of the tokheha - the section of Parshat Behukotai describing the curses that will befall Israel if they do not follow God's laws - contains curses far harsher than what seems justified. What is the explanation for this, and what does this tell us about the true purpose of divine punishment?

  15. The Shmita Year and its Connection to Shavuot and Har Sinai

    Rabbi Menachem Leibtag

    תאריך פרסום: תשע"ד | |

    What is the first real Shabbat of the Jewish people? And how does it connect to the Omer, to the brit at Har Sinai, to Shavuot, and to the Shemitta cycle? We begin by examining the meaning of “omer” by looking at the texts in which the word appears. After placing the test of the “manna” into the timeframe of Bnei Yisrael’s journey from Egypt to Har Sinai, what emerges is a crucial tool for the nation’s development and relationship with God, which is later symbolized and commemorated in rituals which are now ever more meaningful-- especially now that we understand more about the agriculture of the Land of Israel.

  16. The Freeing of Slaves

    Rabbi David Sabato

    During the time of the Babylonian siege, the king and princes of Jerusalem decided to free all the slaves in a sweeping manner in order to alleviate the situation of the city under siege. However, as soon as the Babylonian army left Jerusalem and the siege was lifted, the motive for liberating the slaves was canceled, and the people therefore restored the slaves to their previous status.

    As opposed to the breach of the covenant in chapter 11 in which Yirmiyahu describes the violation of many many mitzvot, here only one mitzva is violated. Why were the people punished so severely for the violation of a single commandment?

  17. The Chiastic Structure of Vayikra Chapter 20

    Rabbi Menachem Leibtag

    תאריך פרסום: תש"ע | |

    The chiastic structure is a tool used to understand the meaning of a chapter of Tanakh in much greater depth. This lecture illustrates how this method creates order within verses that appear random and superfluous, and then examines Vayikra Chapter 20 by applying the chiastic structure in order to gain an appreciation about what it means to be representing God through sanctity. 

  18. "The Words of the Covenant" in the Prophecy of Yirmiyahu

    Rabbi David Sabato

    In Yirmiyahu's three part prophecy in chapter 11, he relates to the historic covenants at Sinai and at Arvot Moav. He challenges the people to keep the covenant which was attempted during Yoshiyahu’s reign. In this regard, Yirmiyahu differed from the prophetess Hulda by expressing hope in Yoshiyahu’s ability to repair and save the covenant. But the days of Yoshiyahu’s reign ended with the realization  that his upheaval did not succeed in penetrating deeply and did not succeed in creating a real change.  With the arrival of Yehoyakim’s reign it becomes apparent to the initially optimistic Yirmiyahu that the covenant will not be repaired and the fate of the people is sealed to the extent that Yirmiyahu is forbidden to pray on behalf of the people.

  19. Yehezkel’s Description of the Nation’s Purification

    Dr. Tova Ganzel

    The various descriptions of redemption in Sefer Yehezkel suggest that the occurrence of the redemption is not dependent on the nation’s deeds, rather the process is carried out in its entirety by God. The prophet states the reason for this: the ingathering of the nation into its land takes place solely because of God’s desire that His Name be sanctified in the eyes of the nations. The Destruction and the exile do not cause any fundamental change in the nation’s attitude towards God, and therefore the desired processes – purification and atonement - will take place without any preconditions.

  20. Can the People Keep the Covenant?

    Rabbi David Sabato

  21. From Sea to Sinai - Trials and Edification

    Rabbi Dr. Avraham Walfish |

    Between the two great revelations in the book of Shemot, the splitting of the sea and the Ten Commandments, the Torah describes a series of events in the wilderness, including the miraculous provision of food and water, the battle of Amalek, and the visit of Yitro. Through close reading techniques, including careful attention to literary and thematic connections linking these narratives, we will explore the ways in which the challenges and trials of living in the wilderness help prepare the people to progress from the revelation at the sea to the revelation at Sinai.

  22. The Legacy of Sinai

    Rabbi Yair Kahn |

    How does the Revelation at Sinai help us in our days? What aspect of the experience helps with faith? Why is it that God promises Moshe that through this event, Am Yisrael will believe in Moshe as prophet forever? In this shiur, we discuss two dialogues with Moshe that bracket the Ten Commandments, focusing on the account in Parashat Vaetchanan.


  23. Shmuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) as a Bible Commentator

    Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin |

    In this class, we will examine the unique approach of Shadal (Shmuel David Luzzato) in his Bible commentary. We will look at different texts that highlight interesting features in his commentary to them. He does not hold back from interpreting the pshat (plain meaning of the text) in a way that contradicts traditional Rabbinic interpretations. Occasionally, he strongly voices his opposition to Rambam (Maimonides) and the apparent influence of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle on Rambam’s comments. Luzzato’s comments also reveal ideas about equality, sexual ethics, and the conviction that the purpose of the Torah(including mitzvoth such as Loving God, is not philosophy, but action: for furthering the goal of doing and spreading justice and righteousness.

  24. From Breishit to Shmot

    Rabbi Menachem Leibtag

    When Yaakov and family depart for Egypt, are they planning to make Egypt their permanent home, or are they planning just a short visit?

    Yaakov fears that his departure to Egypt may be against God's will or possibly even a threat to his bechira. The unique Korbanot that Yaakov offers in Beer Sheva are thanksgiving for the reunification of the family and the realization of the completion of the twelve tribes.

    God's message to Yaakov reveals the upcoming slavery in Egypt but also the growth of an entire out of the seventy descendants to Egypt.

  25. Na'aseh Ve'nishma & Sefer Habrit: What Did We Know & When?

    Rabbi Moshe Shulman

    תאריך פרסום: תשעד | |

    Every year on Shavuot we talk about the significance of the fact that when Bnei Yisrael were offered the Torah, they said "Na'aseh venishma" - "we will do and we will listen." Why are we so enthralled by this, and are we really so enthralled by the acceptance of the Torah before even knowning what the Torah said?

     When did Bnei Yisrael make this declaration - before the Torah was given, afterward, or something else?  From where does the "gvura" of this declaration come from? And what does was the "Sefer haBrit" that came up in the Covenant of the Basins?


  26. The Covenant at Sinai

    Rabbi Chanoch Waxman

    Why does the Torah embed the story of the "brit Sinai" within the story of the ascent of Moshe and the leadership? What is the thematic connection of the "brit" to the ascent of Moshe and the leadership onto the mountain and their respective visions and intimate interactions with God? The answer lies in some of the themes elucidated above. The Torah wishes to emphasize that the various forms and aspects of the spiritual quest - religious ecstasy, sacrifices, and ascending to God, on the one hand, and covenantal commitment to the word of God, on the other hand - constitute harmonious rather than conflicting categories. Each is somehow a necessary condition for and result of the other. The Torah knows of no conflict between law and spirituality, between celebrating the divine and seemingly dry legalism, between the encounter with God on a mountaintop and commitment to a code. The two categories fit neatly together in the text and in the experience of Bnei Yisrael. Together they comprise the rationale, purpose and culmination of the redemption from Egypt: a nation and its leaders serving God and celebrating His presence, fully and absolutely committed to His word.

  27. Parshat Ki Tavo - Pledge of Allegiance

    Rabbi Alex Israel | 33 minutes

    This shiur focuses on the description of the covenantal Ceremony of the Stones. It bears a striking resemblance to the covenantal ceremony at Sinai which took place the day after the Revelation at Sinai. What is the reason for the strong overlap? The ceremony occurs at an auspicious juncture as the People of Israel take a bold step- to become a nation with a land. The covenantal ceremony-  creating a triangle between the Nation, the Land, and God, mediated through the Torah - is meant to naturally continue the values of Sinai in Israel.

  28. Parshat Mishpatim - Some Short Thoughts on Compromise and Naaseh Ve-Nishma

    Rabbi Ezra Bick | 20 minutes

    The Chida, in a homiletical comment to Parashat Mishpatim, sees the parsha full of laws about man and his fellow as highlighting the importance of compromise and the value of peace.

    At the end of the  parasha, Moshe presents the  covenant with Bnei Yisrael, where they say "Na'aseh ve-nishma" - "We will do and we will listen."

    We would have expected to see this phrase in the previous parasha, before the description of the Revelation at Sinai. We examine a relevant midrash.

  29. Accepting the Torah – Then and Now

    Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

    In Parashat Yitro, in the preparations for receiving the Torah, we are told that Moshe came to the people and they all said, “All that God has said – we shall do” (19:8). In parashat Mishpatim, as they are about to enter into the covenant of the basins, we are told: “He took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people, and all the people said: All that God has spoken – we shall do and we shall obey” (24:7).

    We may ask what happened in between, and what brought about such a revolutionary change in such a short time that Bnei Yisrael were able to declare, “Na’aseh ve-nishma," rather than merely promising, “Na’aseh”? 

    What was added in Mishpatim, and what facilitated the transition from “na’aseh” to “na’aseh ve-nishma,” was threefold: first, the purely religious aspect of the revelation at Sinai, including its experiential and personal dimension; second – and no less important – the involvement in study and the deepening knowledge of Torah; and third, Torah experience and knowledge implemented on both the personal and societal levels.

    [Based on a Sicha by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (summarized by Shaul Barth with Reuven Ziegler and translated by Kaeren Fish)]

  30. The "Supplement" to Ma'amad Har Sinai

    Prof. Jonathan Grossman

    Parshiot Behar and Bechukotai contain a supplement to the covenant at Sinai, which, alongside the deep, spiritual motivation and voluntarism associated with entering into a covenant with the Almighty, adds the reward and punishment, which both encourage and threaten, seeking to preserve the integrity of this special covenant. If parashat Mishpatim presents the side of "ahavat Hashem," parashat Bechukotai adds "yir'at Hashem," without which the covenant is not complete.

  31. When Were the 3 Days of Preparation for Matan Torah?

    Rabbi Yaakov Medan

    The date of the giving of the Torah is not stated explicitly in the Torah, and its connection with the festival of Shavuot requires some clarification.

  32. Separating From Foreign Wives

    Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky

    Ezra’s response to the news of intermarriage is at once severe and passive. His actions seem conflicted. The success of the initiative is similarly mixed. At first glance, it appears to be a remarkable triumph. Upon closer examination, however, the people’s commitment appears lukewarm.  The fact that Nehemya was repeatedly required to confront the sin implies that Ezra had failed to truly solve the problem.

    Ezra was a different type of leader than Nehemya. Whereas Nehemya was a forceful political personality deeply grounded in Torah values, Ezra was first and foremost a brilliant, dedicated scholar. Ezra was not, in essence, a man of action. Only when prodded does Ezra rise to the occasion and move mountains to profoundly shape his community.

    The parallels to the Revelation at Sinai teach despite the fact that the community has sinned, repentance creates the possibility of renewed covenantal commitment. Shivat Tzion represents a time of renewed commitment to our relationship with God.

  33. Parshat Ki Tisa - The Breaking of the Luchot

    Rabbi Chanoch Waxman | 35 minutes

    We will discuss the story of the Sin of the Golden Calf.  To what extent is this idol worship - or is it something else? What is the motivation of Israel? We touch on these questions, but focus on a third: what is this story all about?

    The description of the tablets inscribed with the Finger of God can offer a clue. What is the role of the luchot in story of the Sin of the Golden Calf? Why does Moshe make the people drink the water with the ashes of the Golden Calf? We compare this strange incident with the Sotah ritual, and compare the story of the covenant with the story of the anti-covenant.


  34. Studies in Parashat Yitro

    Rabbi Dr. Yoel Bin Nun

    God's first words to Moshe after the Israelites arrive at Mount Sinai describe and explain the comprehensive and revolutionary change in God's governance of Israel – transition from miraculous governance to governance by way of words.

  35. Parshat Yitro Part 3: Introduction to the Berit

    Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom | 33 minutes

    This podcast discusses the dialogue between God and Bnei Yisrael through Moshe as they prepare for the revelation at Sinai. 

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  36. Seeing the Torah as a Ripe Fruit

    Rabbanit Dr. Michal Tikochinsky

  37. Sefer Shemot: Overview and Meaning

    Nachliel Selavan | 50 minutes

    Sefer Study Shemot: Overview and Meaning - Dr. Yael Ziegler

    This the second episode of Tanach study's five episode course studying of an overview and the meaning of the five books of Torah (Pentateuch). In this episode Dr. Yael Ziegler uncovers the main themes of Sefer Shemot and demonstrates how it ties the book together.