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The Significance of a Mountain

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner
Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

This week’s Torah portion begins with the verse, “G-d spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.” The portion continues to talk about the laws of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee Year (the fiftieth year).  Since the Torah portion begins with mentioning Mount Sinai, the name of this week’s Torah portion is called “On the Mountain.”

Our Torah portion which begins with mentioning Mount Sinai fits the time of the year as we get ready to celebrate the festival of Shavuos when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

There is a well known Talmudic teaching that the reason the Torah was given on Mount Sinai was because it was the lowest of all the mountains and thus symbolized humility and self-effacement and nullification. This idea is also found in the word Sinai which is rooted in the Hebrew word “Sinai” or thorn-bush which is a lowly tree.

However one can ask if G-d wanted us to teach us that the path of Torah is humility so why not give the Torah in a valley?  The commentaries explain that the reason the Torah was given on a mountain is to teach us that at times a Jew should act in a tall, bold and expansive manner, but at the same time it was given on a lowly mountain to teach us that even when we act in a bold manner, even when one is working for a lofty goal and thus it is proper for him to work in a manner of broadness and expansiveness, if he doesn’t combine it with humility and nullification, it is very possible for his mission to turn into an outgrowth of his ego instead of being an expression of holiness.

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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