Monday, September 14, 2009

Har Sinai, the smallest of all mountains...

Parshat Haazinu begins:

א הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַאֲדַבֵּרָה; {ס} וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ, אִמְרֵי-פִי. {ר}1 Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

I was teaching my (~ 5 year old) son the coming parsha this past Shabbos, and translating Shamayim for him as sky; and explaining that the long-standing sky and ground are being used as witnesses for future generations.

And he asked a great question: If Har Sinai was the smallest of all mountains, how was Moshe able to climb up the mountain to reach Shamayim to get the Torah?

And so I was able to explain to him how Shamayim has two meanings, one spiritual and the other physical, and how one was a metaphor for the other. Later in the day, I tried explaining to him that whether or not in reality Har Sinai was the smallest of all mountains, the purpose of that midrash is the lesson of humility and nullifying the ego as a prerequisite for receiving the Torah, and indeed much learning.

How would you have explained this?


ZB said...

Just smiled, and Shamayim does not mean the physical heavens. I would definitely not talk about the allegorical stuff, as kids are very concrete and it would just confuse them (esp. a 5 year old)

Tamir said...

I would agree with ZB that talking about allegorical stuff with a five year-old would only confuse them.

Not having children of my own, and not being well versed or sure about educating young children, my suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt( at least).

That said, going according to the description in Shemot, the Lord came down to the mount Sinai from the heavens, while Moshe stood on the mountain and received from Him. Therefore, Moshe didn't have to have reached the heavens himself, to receive the Tora.

Or, if going by the Midrashim that say Moshe went up through seven Reqi'im to receive the Tora, you could say that by way of a miracle, Moshe was able to rise up from mount Sinai into the heavens to receive the Tora.


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