Smoking Sinai

Based on a complete discourse by
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Shavuot, 5564-1804

by Rabbi David Rothschild


What physically transpired on Mount Sinai when the Torah was given? Enigmatic verses describe lightning, smoke, clouds and a shofar blast. These were actual physical phenomena. Each one conveys a spiritual significance, which occurred in physical reality! What do they all mean?

Delivered in the early years of Chassidus, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe elucidated the Mount Sinai verses in a crisp, yet profound manner. Here are some of the secrets he revealed.

Kabbala reveals that smoke is an acronym for space, time and soul. But these three fundamental building blocks of reality are themselves but a radiation of G-d's external light. Divine fire descended from Heaven and purified the corporeality of the created Worlds. Representing the elements of soil, water and air, they went up in smoke. That is, the life-force which animates the worlds ascended to its source in Divinity.

How did the Jewish People respond? They told Moses to deal with it. For they preferred to remain "below", intact in physical bodies. Mount Sinai resembled the state of the world in Resurrection times. Then, physical bodies will exist; it's just that their sustenance will derive from Divine lights. Thus was Moses' condition on the mountaintop.

Why does physicality merit such a lofty revelation? The Baal Shem Tov taught that the higher the source, the lower it descends. It follows that the physical world's origin is within the Absolute Essence of G-d. Moses attained perfection of his corporal body. That's why he and he alone could ascend the mountaintop.

For the full text (2600 words approx.), click here.


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