While our tradition puts an emphasis on the Ten Commandments, it is important to recognize that the moment after revelation. The miracle is in the words, roeem et hakolot, they saw the voices. Rashi explains that the people saw which should be heard, something which is impossible to see on any other occasion
February is known as Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. I have written and spoken often about my brother, Eyal, of blessed memory, who lived as a quadriplegic for 32 out of his 36 years.
When I read these words in the Torah, of the people “seeing voices,” I am forever reminded of Eyal.
He had no voice. We would read his lips, and therefore only a small group who had this ability could communicate with him. So many times, we would ask Eyal to spell each word so we could understand the words he wished to tell us.
At some points, when we could not decipher his word, my mother would say, “Please be quiet, I cannot hear Eyal.” He had no voice, there was no option of hearing. What she really was telling us was, “Hearing is not only the vibrations in our ears. Hearing is understanding, being aware, accepting, and including.”
Take the word SILENT. What is an anagram for this word? LISTEN. We hear when we are quiet, but we can also hear within the quiet. It is no mistake that on the High Holy Days we reference the still small voice of God at the climax of our liturgy.
The world is a loud place, full of ideas and opinions. We search everywhere for the grand moment of revelation. Yet, on this Shabbat, as we arrive at Mount Sinai, listen within the silence. Hear the voices, and see the thunder. For then, we can make our way to the promised land.