Rabbi Mendel Popack
Chabad Centre Cape Town
To Moshe, He said: ‘Ascend to Hashem...’ (Exodus 24:1)
וְאֶל מֹשֶׁה אָמַר עֲלֵה אֶל ה'... (שמות כד:א)
The Midrash Tanchuma1 relates an analogy about Matan Torah - the giving of the Torah - on Shavuot.
A King issued a decree, saying: "the inhabitants of Rome shall not descend to Syria, nor shall the inhabitants of Syria ascend to Rome."
So too, when the Holy One created the world, He decreed, saying:2 "the heavens are the heavens of G-D but the earth He gave to Man."
When he sought to give the Torah He nullified the original decree saying:
"Those who are below shall ascend on high and those on high will descend below, and I will begin", as it is written:3 "And Hashem descended on Mount Sinai, and later it is written:4 "To Moshe, He said: ‘Ascend to Hashem’”.
What was the ultimate intent of G-D giving the Torah on Mount Sinai? In order that "those who are below shall ascend on High". By giving them the Torah, He gave them the tools to do just that.
Hashem wants us to receive it, incorporate it into our consciousness and thus make it our very own.
He wants it to lift us up above our mundane earthly self. This transformative event changed creation and changed the reason for our very existence.
May we truly internalise this Yom Tov and recognise its purpose. Live it with true simcha and joy!
Midrash Tanchuma, Va'eira 15:1