“A Mighty Voice that Did Not Cease”

Torah portion of VaEtchanan Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11

Moshe Kempinski

We read in the Torah portion that always follows the fast of Tish B’av the following;

Hashem  spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness, with a great voice, which did not cease. And He inscribed them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.. ( Deuteronomy 5: 19)

This verse which immediately follows the description of the revelation of the Ten Commandments, carries an eternal message. We read these words and are aware of unusual phraseology.” Hashem  spoke these words to your entire assembly … with a great voice, ..” and then the words VeLo Yasaf which are translated by some as “and no more” and by others as “which did not cease

These are two seemingly opposing views.

What then do the words Lo Yasaf truly mean? Rashi in  explaining these words brings both views. He writes the following; ” As interpreted by the Targum (Onkelo) as and it did not cease.for His voice is strong and exists continuously (San. 17a)”. Another explanation of VeLo Yasaf is : He never again revealed Himself so publicly.

 According to Rashi’s second view, the Voice of G-d was revealed once and for all time. All that was to be gleaned in His Torah and all the prophets and inspired teachings that were to follow would simply be a derivative of that dramatic encounter.

As Malachi the final prophet declares:”Keep in remembrance the teaching of Moses, My servant-the laws and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.( Malachi 3:22)

Therefore  the text in our Torah portion can be read  “These matters spoke the Lord unto all your assembly on the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud and the mist; a great voice and then no more (Lo Yasaf).

Yet there is a powerful concept introduced in the first view brought down by Rashi. That powerful “Voice of G-d“never ceased. It continues to reverberate in every generation, in every location and in the innermost places of every soul.

In this week’s Torah portion Hashem says “Not with our forefathers did Hashem  make this covenant, but with us, we, all of whom are here alive today. Face to face, Hashem spoke with you at the mountain out of the midst of the fire:( Deuteronomy 5:3-4)

Yet we shall see further in the Book of Devarim, that Hashem describes the encounter even more deeply;

“You are all standing this day before the Lord, your God the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel,your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp both your woodcutters and your water drawers,…13But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, 14but with those standing here with us today before Hashem, our G-d, and also with those who are not here with us.. this day ( Asher Einenu Poh Hayom “ (Deuteronomy 29:9-14)

That is to say “on this day Hashem spoke his covenant to those that are here and also to those who are not physically here!

In Torah understanding,  we all were at Mount Sinai and we all still hear that voice the “never ends”.

All that mankind needs to do is to block out all the noise around us , even for just a moment. All that noise past and present, like the destruction of the Temple, the modern day threat of the Covid 19 virus , the riots, the terrorist threats  and all other challenges in our lives. All these issues and concerns are a function of real and potentially dangerous realities.

Yet at times we need to find a place of silence in our own souls and hearts.

It is then that we will hear again “the mighty Voice that did not end” LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved and LeRefuat  Yehudit bat Chaya Esther .Lerefuat Kol HaPtzuim ve Hacholim

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