Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Mishpatim/Shekalim 5777

What actually happened when God revealed the Torah? Well, it depends which Biblical passage you ask!

 This Shabbat, in Parshat Mishpatim, we will read a somewhat different narrative than the one we saw last week. As JTS bible professor Dr. Benjamin Sommer wrote in his book Revelation and Authority, “Commentators have long debated whether Exodus 24 narrates the same events as chapters 19-20, events that immediately followed them, or even events that preceded them” (p. 41). One main difference is in the Torah’s description of the sensory experience of the Israelites. Last week, in Parshat Yitro, the Torah tells us the many things the people heard. But in chapter 24, the revelation is visual.

So which account is “right?” How can it be that the Torah has space for multiple narratives of revelation, each with a unique perspective?

On Shabbat morning, we’ll explore Dr. Sommer’s findings a bit deeper, and we’ll see if his proposed solution can be applied to other realms as well. I’d venture to say that we will see that the Torah has much to teach communities about dealing with discordant voices. 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi David Wise