Revelation and Na'aseh V'nishma

(ז) וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר ה' נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע׃

(7) And he [Moses] took the book of the covenant, and read in the hearing of the people; and they said: ‘All that the Eternal has spoken will we do, and obey.’

נעשה ונשמע - נעשה מה שדיבר וגם נשמע מה שיצונו עוד מכאן ולהבא ונקיים.

נעשה ונשמע, “we will carry out what God has said already, and we are also prepared to listen (obey) to what God will command from here on in.

תלמוד גדול או מעשה גדול נענה רבי טרפון ואמר מעשה גדול נענה ר"ע ואמר תלמוד גדול נענו כולם ואמרו תלמוד גדול שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה.

Is learning greater or deed greater? Rabbi Tarfon answered, deed is greater. Rabbi Eli'ezer responded and said, learning is greater. Then someone else responded to both of them and said that learning is greater, as learning leads to deed.

Silver From the Land of Israel. From the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook. by Rabbi Chanan Morrison.

The ultimate moment of glory for the Jewish people — their greatest hour — occurred as God revealed His Torah at Mount Sinai. The Israelites remarkably pledged, Na'aseh v'nishma — "We will do and we will listen to all that God has declared" (Exodus 24:7).

They made two promises: to do, and to listen. The order is crucial. They promised to keep the Torah, even before knowing why. The Midrash (Shabbat 88a) related that, in merit of this pledge of loyalty, the angels rewarded each Jew with two crowns. And a Heavenly Voice explained, "Who revealed to My children this secret used by the angels?"

What was so special about this vow, "We will do and we will listen"? On the contrary, would not fulfilling mitzvot with understanding and enlightenment be a superior level of Torah observance? And why does the Midrash refer to this form of unquestioning allegiance as a "secret used by the angels"?


While wisdom is usually acquired through study and contemplation, there exists in nature an intuitive knowledge that requires no formal education. The bee for example, naturally knows the optimal geometric shape for building honeycomb cells. No bee has ever needed to register for engineering courses at MIT.

Intuitive knowledge also exists in the spiritual realm. Angels are sublime spiritual entities who do not require extensive Torah study in order to know how to serve God. Their holiness is ingrained in their very nature. It is only human beings, prone to being confused by pseudo-scientific indoctrination, who need to struggle in order to return to their pristine spiritual selves.

For the Jews who stood at Mount Sinai, it was not only Torah and mitzvot that were revealed. They also discovered their own true, inner essence. They attained a sublime level of natural purity, and intuitively proclaimed, "We will do." We will follow our natural essence, unhindered by any spurious, artificial conventions.