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Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman

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Shavuot, Mt. Sinai and the Big Bang

Posted: 05/25/2012 4:16 pm

On the morning of the day the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai, along with thunder and lightning and a heavy cloud on the mountain, there was the sound of a shofar that grew increasingly loud. Later it states that the people saw the sounds of the thunder and the shofar (Exodus 20:15). Rashi comments that their seeing sounds was something that was impossible to do in any other place. He also comments that these sounds emanated from the "mouth of God."

According to the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (5:1) and expounded upon by Kabbalah, the agency of creation was Divine speech -- the 10 utterances through which God spoke the world into existence. Rashi's comment regarding the unusual phenomenon of the sound of a shofar from the "mouth of God" continually increasing in loudness is somehow connected to the actual creation of the world.

In the 1960s two scientists practically by mistake stumbled onto one of the greatest discoveries of modern science. They picked up of an unexplainable static on a measuring device leading them ultimately to discover the background static of the "big bang," thus revolutionizing our concept of how the world was created. And the emphasis is on the word "created," for before this discovery, science could not or would not admit what Torah has always claimed -- that there was a beginning point of creation -- and not that the world was eternal as the Greeks posited and accepted by many or most scientists until the big bang theory, now referred to as the standard model of creation.

The comment of Rashi regarding the Jewish people "seeing the sounds" is explained in Kabbalah in the following manner: at the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, in order to perceive the Divine revelation, all the physical senses and dimensions were unified, as were all levels of human consciousness in an extraordinary union of physical and spiritual synesthesia. When the people saw the sounds of the thunder and an increasingly loud shofar, it is possible to say that they were privy to seeing/hearing the background static of the big bang, in as much as this day had been set aside from the very beginning of creation as Rashi states -- it was as if the world was in fact being created on the day of the giving of the Torah.

In Pirkei Avot (6:2) it states that everyday a voice goes out from Sinai admonishing the Jewish people to return to Torah. It was asked in the book Degel Machane Efrayim, in the name of the Ba'al Shem Tov: If there is a voice coming out every day from Sinai, then why don't we hear it; and if we don't hear it, why bother to have a voice come out at all. He answers by saying that every time a person has the arousal to better themselves, or return to God and Torah, it is because they are in fact hearing that voice.

Just as there is a background sound permeating all the universe as a result of the initial instant of the big bang, we can say similarly that there is a spiritual background voice in the world resulting from the giving of the Torah at Sinai, an event that actualizes God's purpose for creation. Just because we don't hear the sound of the big bang doesn't mean it's not there. Similarly, just because we don't hear the voice emanating from Mt. Sinai everyday doesn't mean it's not there to be heard.

The entire universe, which we now know consists of billions of galaxies, each one greater in size than we can imagine, all comes from one almost infinitely small "point." The world is all the result of that expanding seed or spark. So too, the Jewish people are spiritually rooted and unified in our source in receiving the Torah "as one being with one heart" (Rashi on Exodus 19:2). May we all merit to hear the voice coming from Sinai "as if it was given today."

 
 
 

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