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Matan Torah A Double Message

By: Rabbi Jason Knapel

I never realized there are actually two stories of Matan Torah in Sefer Shemot - the one we are familiar with and the one at the end of this week's parsha. The two accounts are very different from each other. In Yitro we see Matan Torah as an awesome spiritual experience that transforms a nation. It involves changes of nature and clarity of vision upon seeing HaKadosh Baruch Hu as clearly as a human can see Him. But at the end of this week’s parsha, we see another version of Matan Torah, and this one focuses on laws, korbanot and basic details – not the awe inspiring experience of Parshat Yitro. I saw someone explain that these two stories are really two aspects of our Avodat Hashem. There is the aspect of Yitro – inspiring experiences, feelings of growth, feelings of connectedness and clarity. We feel very spiritual and “religious” during these experiences. On the other hand, there is the aspect of Mishpatim – the detailed, mitzvah-fulfilling day-in day-out experience of living our daily lives in a very real world. For many this is devoid of the spiritual connection that we feel when “inspired” by a Chavayah (experience).

The point of splitting these two tellings of Matan Torah could be so that we understand that it is not only when we are inspired that we need to grow and search for clarity and connection – but also when we are living our regular lives and doing the details.
Both are important and both are what Hashem wants from us.

May we be Zocheh to constantly seek spiritual experiences and be spiritually inspired through our regular everyday experiences as well.