Torah Readers Reflections

We will do and we will Listen!

Doing and Listening Go Hand in Hand. Na’aseh ve’nishma is one of the best-known phrases related to the Shavuot holiday. Standing at Sinai we declared, “Na’aseh, we will do” and nishmah, from the word shema, “we will hear.”
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In the Hebrew year 2448 (1313 BCE), 3,333 years ago, on the 6th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, Three months after Exodus from Egypt, the Jews arrive at Mount Sinai to hear the Ten Commandments and receive the Torah. Leaving Ahron and Hur in charge in the Israelite camp, Mosheh ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from God.

Even though Chag Matan Torah, The Giving of the Torah, implies that the entire Torah was given that day, only the Ten Commandments were taught to us that day, and even they were only transmitted verbally. The Luchot Habrit (tablets) were given after 40 days.

The Ten Commandments

  1. Believe in God.

  2. Not to worship idols.

  3. Not to take God’s name in vain.

  4. Keep the Shabbat.

  5. Honor their parents.

  6. Not to murder.

  7. Not to commit adultery.

  8. Not to steal.

  9. Not to bear false witness.

  10. Not covet another’s wife or property.

Parashat Mishpatim מִּשְׁפָּטִים “laws”, sets out a series of laws, the Covenant Code, as the people accept the covenant with God. (Exodus 21:1–24:18.)

Following the revelation at Sinai, God told Mosheh to give the people of Israel, a series of laws. Altogether, Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot. 23 commandments and 30 prohibitions. Including the laws of the servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the “Four Guardians”- The unpaid guardian, The paid guardian, The borrower, The renter; the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law. Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the mitzvah of prayer, the observance of the seasonal festivals: שָׁלֹ֣שׁ רְגָלִ֔ים תָּחֹ֥ג לִ֖י בַּשָּׁנָֽה Three times a year you shall hold a festival for Me: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot.

אֶת־חַ֣ג הַמַּצּוֹת֮ תִּשְׁמֹר֒ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִים֩ תֹּאכַ֨ל מַצּ֜וֹת כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתִ֗ךָ לְמוֹעֵד֙ חֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב כִּי־ב֖וֹ יָצָ֣אתָ מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וְלֹא־יֵרָא֥וּ פָנַ֖י רֵיקָֽם׃ You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, eating unleavened bread for seven days as I have commanded you, at the set time in the month of Aviv (Spring), for in it you went forth from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty-handed;

וְחַ֤ג הַקָּצִיר֙ בִּכּוּרֵ֣י מַעֲשֶׂ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּזְרַ֖ע בַּשָּׂדֶ֑ה וְחַ֤ג הָֽאָסִף֙ בְּצֵ֣את הַשָּׁנָ֔ה בְּאָסְפְּךָ֥ אֶֽת־מַעֲשֶׂ֖יךָ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃ and the Feast of the Harvest, of the first fruits of your work, of what you sow in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot) at the end of the year, when you gather in the results of your work from the field. And the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

רֵאשִׁ֗ית בִּכּוּרֵי֙ אַדְמָ֣תְךָ֔ תָּבִ֕יא בֵּ֖ית יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ לֹֽא־תְבַשֵּׁ֥ל גְּדִ֖י בַּחֲלֵ֥ב אִמּֽוֹ׃

God promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants. The people of Israel proclaim, “We will do and we will hear all that God commands us.”

Naaseh Venishma

וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע׃

Then he took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will faithfully do!”

Doing and Listening Go Hand in Hand. Na’aseh ve’nishma is one of the best-known phrases related to the Shavuot holiday. Standing at Sinai we declared, “Na’aseh, we will do” and nishmah, from the word shema, “we will hear.” “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.”-Paul Simon “Sound of Silence”. Interpreting nishma as listening is important, actively hearing, Na’aseh ve’nishma as, “We will do and we will listen,” is relevant and should never be forgotten.

“Na’aseh V’Nishma” (we will do and we will hear) is one of the major challenges facing the Jewish people today. This proclamation, made by the people of Israel when they stood at Mount Sinai, is regarded as a national declaration of total subjugation to G-d’s will, accepting the Torah in its entirety without question, is literally the opposite of today’s world, which offers unlimited possibilities, independent thinking, and endless freedom. The breakdown of authority and the rejection of commitment is posing challenges to the continuity of Jewish tradition.

Rashbam on Exodus 24:7:2 נעשה ונשמע , “we will carry out what G-d has said already, and we are also prepared to listen (obey) to what G-d will command from here on in”


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