In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about Moses’ father-in-law Yisro coming to the desert to meet Moses and the Jewish people. This took place after the splitting of the sea and shortly before the giving of the Torah. The Torah tells us that Moses told Yisro about the great miracles G-d did for the Jewish people, to which Yisro responded, “Now, I know that Hashem is greater than all the Gods.” The famous book the Zohar teaches that this response of Yisro’s was the final preparation necessary for the Jews to receive the Torah.
The explanation for this is that the giving of the Torah was not just the transmission of G-d’s teachings, since we learn that Torah was already known to righteous people such as the forefathers through prophecy. Rather the revelation at Sinai changed the properties of the world. Before Sinai physicality and spirituality were separate and could not join together. However, after Sinai, when we follow the Torah we unite physicality and spirituality. By following the Torah, we don’t just become holier but our homes, surroundings and objects we use to fulfill the Torah also become holy.
Now we can understand the correlation between Yisro’s statement and the Giving of the Torah. From the examination of Yisro’s words, “Now I know that Hashem is Greater than all the God’s”, our sages deduce that there was not any form of idol worship that Yisro did not study. Yet Hashem’s miracles were so overwhelming that in the realm of rational intellect, it was obvious that Hashem was the True G-d. This elevation of the world’s consciousness was the final preparation necessary for the world to become fit to join physicality and spirituality. (Based on the teachings of the Chabad Rebbes).