An Urgent Call for our Generation: Bringing Har Sinai to the Nations
BY RABBI TULY WEISZ
As a Religious Zionist, I always wondered why Hashem gave us the Torah at Har Sinai and not in Eretz Yisrael. Wouldn’t Har HaBayit be a more fitting location for revelation?
The Midrash Rabbah focuses not on Mount Sinai but on the wilderness of Sinai, arguing that we can only acquire Torah when we make ourselves hefker, wide open, like the wilderness. We must open our hearts and our minds for the powerful truth of Torah to penetrate and have maximum impact (Bamidbar Rabbah 1:7).
Going further, the Mechilta D’Rebbe Yishmael offers an incredible insight that is particularly relevant for our generation. Had the Torah been given in the Land of Israel, which was promised exclusively to Am Yisrael, we could claim that the Torah belongs to us alone. The Torah was therefore revealed in the wilderness, a public domain, to demonstrate that the messages of the Torah are meant for all of humanity.
When we read Megillat Rut on Shavuot, we remember that sometimes people outside of our community can serve as extraordinary examples of faith in G-d and kindness to others. As the matriarch of David HaMelech and Melech HaMashiach, Rut reminds us that Jews have a responsibility to reach out to people beyond our own community.
For most of our history, our theological disputes with non-Jews were bitter and bloody. Christians believed in the terribly antisemitic ‘Replacement Theology’, claiming that G-d rejected Israel and that they replaced us as the chosen people. They argued violently that their New Testament replaced our ‘Old’ Testament and forced us to participate in ‘debates’ during which they ‘proved’ that our Torah was full of lies.
Incredibly, the miraculous return of Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael over the last 125 years has led many Christians to reconsider their theological intolerance of the Jewish people. Slowly but surely, millions of non-Jews have begun to look favorably upon us, even expressing interest in studying Torah from our perspective!
How should we respond to this strange phenomenon? Our painful history demands that we tread carefully, and it would surely be understandable if we dismissed their newfound interest. However, long ago, our prophets promised that this very unlikely scenario would in fact occur:
In the days to come, the Mount of Hashem’s House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy. And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, to the House of the G-d of Jacob; that He may instruct us in His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.” For Torah shall come forth from Zion, the word of Hashem from Jerusalem (Yishayahu 2:2–3).
Historically, the Torah was given in the wilderness, but Yishayahu prophetically maintained that Hashem’s word will one day emanate from Israel to the entire world.
We are all proud that in Israel today there are more yeshivot and kollelim, with more Jews learning Torah, than at any point in our history. But we should also be enthused that there is an even greater number of non-Jews, every day, virtually streaming towards Jerusalem and seeking to learn the truths of Torah.
Our people face many challenges. We are surrounded by violent enemies who seek to destroy us, and far too many of our own people deny our Biblical claim to our homeland. In times like these, it is critically important for our Religious Zionist community to take a leading role in teaching Torat Eretz Yisrael to the masses of gentiles who are yearning for a connection to Torah and to G-d’s chosen people. Imagine the impact we could make if each of our communities made the effort to teach our Christian friends about the eternal bond between the land and people of Israel?
3,000 years ago, Hashem gave the Torah to a small nation in the wilderness. After so many centuries of faithfully guarding the Torah in the face of constant attacks, we have now returned to our land and are ready at last to spread the light of Torah to the entire world. What a blessing it is to live at such a time!
Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the founder of Israel365, an organization which promotes the significance of the Land of Israel through a variety of innovative platforms.