God spoke to each individual at Mt. Sinai

The Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments, were declared to B’nei Yisrael as a group while they stood at Mt. Sinai.

If the commandments were told to B’nai Yisrael as a group, then why are they written in singular form?

Let’s take the first commandment foe example (Shmot 20:2):

“I am HaShem, Elokecha, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves.”

Why does God say “Elokecha”, your God (singular) and opposed to “Elokeichem”, your God (plural)?

The answer is that God is a personal God.

Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel ben Rav Shmuel of Apt (1755-1825) known as the Ohev Yisrael explains: It says “Elokecha”, your God (singular) since at Mt. Sinai God spoke to each and every person individually according to their understanding, according to the depth of their knowledge, according to their strength and according to their level. In this way, each member of B’nai Yisrael was able to appreciate God’s glory.

This past week, I had the honor to conduct six Tu B’Shvat seders for different populations in Tel Aviv, Yafo, Jerusalem and a Kibbutz near Hadera: teenagers at a special needs boarding school, senior citizens with special needs, mothers who attend Torah classes with their babies, two groups of at risk elementary school students and a group of independent senior citizens. Each seder was tailored to the needs of the group that was attending and although they participated as a group, each individual connected to the holiday in their own way. Some connected through song, others through dance, the readings or the eating of the fruits.

Tu B'Shvat Seder in Jerusalem
Tu B’Shvat Seder in Jerusalem

Receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai was a communal miracle. B’nai Yisrael received the Torah as a group. However, it was also a personal miracle since each individual in attendance formed a personal relationship with God and felt as if He was speaking directly to them.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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