The World-Changing Torah of Jerusalem

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At the end of the Torah, when Moshe retells the story of the Giving of the Torah, he says as follows:

The Lord came from Sinai and shone forth from Seir to them; He appeared from Mount Paran and came with some of the holy myriads; from His right hand was a fiery Law for them.

The Midrash wonders why God came to Sinai from Seir and Mount Paran? What was He doing in the non-Jewish areas? One approach of the midrash is that on His way to Sinai, God offered the Torah to the other nations of world. However, each nation decided to decline receiving the Torah due to its inability to follow the laws of the Torah.

What is the midrash coming to teach us? Did God really offer the Torah to other nations?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that this Midrash teaches us of the universal relevance of the Torah. Yes, the non-Jews ultimately rejected the Torah since the Torah in its entirety is not suitable for them or their lifestyle. However, everything God does is for a purpose and leaves a lasting impression. 

On some level, the Torah is relevant for non-Jews. The basic moral and spiritual principles of the Torah as expressed in the seven Noahide laws are certainly relevant for non-Jews and must be observed by all of humanity. The Lubavitcher Rebbe argued that God imbued the non-Jewish world with the ability to tap into some of the lessons of the Torah through first approaching them before the Giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.

Throughout much of human history it has been difficult, perhaps to discern the impact of God’s visitation to Seir and Mount Paran. How many non-Jews were open to listening to Jews tell them about the seven Noahide laws and the basic value system of the Torah? It seems that Torah, as revealed at Sinai, only laid the groundwork for the eventual embrace of the aspects of the Torah that are relevant for the nations fo the world.

The full revelation of the Torah that will impact the entire world will occur not at Sinai, the beginning of the Torah’s revelation, but in Yerushalayim, the Torah’s final resting place. Therefore, Yeshayahu tells us:

And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths,” for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Yerushalayim.

Sinai laid the potential for a world order that is based on God’s system of values and spirituality. But it will take the full revelation of the Torah in Yerushalayim to actualize that vision. 

May it come soon!

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