Beit Midrash Dibbur/Divine Voice: "Divine Presence Parlayed into Words" Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
1א
(כג) וַיְהִי֩ בַיָּמִ֨ים הָֽרַבִּ֜ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיָּ֙מָת֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיֵּאָנְח֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מִן־הָעֲבֹדָ֖ה וַיִּזְעָ֑קוּ וַתַּ֧עַל שַׁוְעָתָ֛ם אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים מִן־הָעֲבֹדָֽה׃ (כד) וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־נַאֲקָתָ֑ם וַיִּזְכֹּ֤ר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־בְּרִית֔וֹ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֶת־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽת־יַעֲקֹֽב׃ (כה) וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיֵּ֖דַע אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (ס)
(23) A long time after that, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to God. (24) God heard their moaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. (25) God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.
2ב
(ז) וְלָקַחְתִּ֨י אֶתְכֶ֥ם לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽאלֹהִ֑ים וִֽידַעְתֶּ֗ם כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם הַמּוֹצִ֣יא אֶתְכֶ֔ם מִתַּ֖חַת סִבְל֥וֹת מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ח) וְהֵבֵאתִ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נָשָׂ֙אתִי֙ אֶת־יָדִ֔י לָתֵ֣ת אֹתָ֔הּ לְאַבְרָהָ֥ם לְיִצְחָ֖ק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹ֑ב וְנָתַתִּ֨י אֹתָ֥הּ לָכֶ֛ם מוֹרָשָׁ֖ה אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ (ט) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֛ה כֵּ֖ן אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֤א שָֽׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה מִקֹּ֣צֶר ר֔וּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָ֖ה קָשָֽׁה׃ (פ) (י) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃
(7) And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I, the LORD, am your God who freed you from the labors of the Egyptians. (8) I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession, I the LORD.” (9) But when Moses told this to the Israelites, they would not listen to Moses, their spirits crushed by cruel bondage. (10) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
3ג
(ב) אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים
(2) I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
4ד
"When the Holy One came to give the Torah to Israel, God spoke to them in a language they knew and understood. 'I ['anokhi] am the Lord your God.' Rabbi Nehemiah said: What kind of word is 'anokhi? It is an Egyptian word. In Egypt, when a man wished to say to a friend 'I ['ani],' he said 'anokhi."
Midrash Tanchuma
But "I am" and "Thou shalt not have" (Exodus 20:2,3) were not heard from the mouth of Moses but from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He. In this way HE KISSED ME WITH THE KISSES OF HIS MOUTH.
( Song of Songs Rabbah I:13)
5ה
(ו) וידיעת דבר זה מצות עשה שנאמר אנכי ה' אלהיך וכל המעלה על דעתו שיש שם אלוה אחר חוץ מזה עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני וכופר בעיקר שזהו העיקר הגדול שהכל תלוי בו:
(6) The knowledge of this matter is a positive commandment, as it says, "I am the Lord your God" (Ex. 20:2). And anyone who brings upon his mind that there may be another god beside Him violates a negative commandment, as it says, "You shall not have other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:3). And this [thought] is complete heresy. For this [knowledge of God] is the greatest principle upon which everything else depends.
6ו
(י) כִּ֣י תִשְׁמַ֗ע בְּקוֹל֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֤ר מִצְוֺתָיו֙ וְחֻקֹּתָ֔יו הַכְּתוּבָ֕ה בְּסֵ֥פֶר הַתּוֹרָ֖ה הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֤י תָשׁוּב֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃ (פ) (יא) כִּ֚י הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם לֹֽא־נִפְלֵ֥את הִוא֙ מִמְּךָ֔ וְלֹ֥א רְחֹקָ֖ה הִֽוא׃ (יב) לֹ֥א בַשָּׁמַ֖יִם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֤נוּ הַשָּׁמַ֙יְמָה֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃ (יג) וְלֹֽא־מֵעֵ֥בֶר לַיָּ֖ם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲבָר־לָ֜נוּ אֶל־עֵ֤בֶר הַיָּם֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃ (יד) כִּֽי־קָר֥וֹב אֵלֶ֛יךָ הַדָּבָ֖ר מְאֹ֑ד בְּפִ֥יךָ וּבִֽלְבָבְךָ֖ לַעֲשֹׂתֽוֹ׃ (ס) (טו) רְאֵ֨ה נָתַ֤תִּי לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙ הַיּ֔וֹם אֶת־הַֽחַיִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַטּ֑וֹב וְאֶת־הַמָּ֖וֶת וְאֶת־הָרָֽע׃
(10) since you will be heeding the LORD your God and keeping His commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching—once you return to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. (11) Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. (12) It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” (13) Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” (14) No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (15) See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity.
7ז
Instead of a Love Poem
8ח
As from "Thou shalt not seethe a kid
in his mother's milk"
They made all the manifold laws of
kashruth;
But the kid is forgotten and the milk is forgotten
And the mother is forgotten
So from "I love you"
We made all our life together.
But I did not forget you
As you were then.
Yehudah Amichai (1924-2000)
9ט
Hevrutah Questions for Radical Judaism handout: (pages 107-109)
1. What is Arthur Green's approach to Sinai?
2. What does he mean by "myth"?
3. What does Green think is the relationship between the God who makes a covenant with Israel and the rest of humanity?
4. What does Green mean by "testimony"? Does his notion of "testimony" help you relate to Sinai?