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Friday, February 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Yisro

    As Matan Torah approaches, HaShem ensures Moshe (19:9) that with this great event, B'nei Yisroel "will believe in you forever." The difficulty with this promise is that we have already seen that with the splitting of the sea (14:31) "they believed in HaShem and in Moshe his servant." Why does Moshe need to be assured once again of B'nei Yisroel's trust?
    Ramban here and Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 8) explain along similar lines that the mere witnessing of great miracles still did not accomplish complete belief in Moshe's prophecy for there was still room to suspect witchcraft of some sort. They had never actually witnessed the actual procedure of prophecy. The events at Har Sinai showed not only Moshe heeding HaShem's word but HaShem actually commanding Moshe directly, to which all of B'nei Yisroel were witness. Now there was certainly no room for any doubt whatsoever in the authenticity of Moshe's prophecy.
    One of the most prevalent proofs offered by common kiruv organizations as to the authenticity of Judaism over other religions is based on these events. For the most part, each religion has a figure who claimed to have been in contact with God. Their religion is based largely on these prophecies. The Rosh HaYeshiva of Ner Yisroel, HaRav Yaakov Weinberg zt"l offered a famous joke found in an old Hebrew joke book as a parable to prove the futility of this belief:
    A certain Rabbi passed away and left two sons who argued over which was to be their father's successor. One day one of the sons gathered all the elders of the community and proclaimed that his father had come to him an a dream and told him that he wants him to be his successor. The elders, rather impressed by this revelation, were just about to appoint him rabbi when one man objected from the back, "Excuse me, but if your father really wanted us to appoint you rabbi, then he would have come to US in OUR dream!"
    All the other religions choose to believe in the prophecy of one man. But why? So-and-so says he spoke to God. Why should you believe him? Only the Jews are different. Every single Jew stood at the foot of Har Sinai and witnessed HaShem talking to Moshe with their very own eyes and ears. This is a level of belief that is irrefutable. Also, due to its foundation upon nationwide testimony, it is a claim that could not possibly be fabricated. That explains why none of the other religions have ever dared make such a claim.
    With this we can understand that the promise given here to Moshe was not about whether or not B'nei Yisroel believed in his prophecy. This was already established earlier. Rather it was a promise of the longevity and perseverance of this belief. A prophet who performs miracles may convince his generation to believe in him, but who will believe it in the generations to come? With the awesome events at Har Sinai, the belief in Moshe Rabbeinu's supreme prophecy became one that is sure to be everlasting and could never be challenged.
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Many Who Fear God
Dikdukian: Letzais
Dikdukian: Ram veNisa by Eliyahu Levin

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