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Rabbi Robinson’s Sermon Feb. 17 2023

Mishpatim Plaut p. 523

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson



Exodus 24:1-4


(1) Then [God] said to Moses, “Come up to יהוה, with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and bow low from afar. (2) Moses alone shall come near יהוה; but the others shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.” (3) Moses went and repeated to the people all the commands of יהוה and all the rules; and all the people answered with one voice, saying, “All the things that יהוה has commanded we will do!” (4) Moses then wrote down all the commands of יהוה. Early in the morning, he set up an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.


שמות כ״ד:א׳-ד׳

(א) וְאֶל־מֹשֶׁ֨ה אָמַ֜ר עֲלֵ֣ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֗ה אַתָּה֙ וְאַהֲרֹן֙ נָדָ֣ב וַאֲבִיה֔וּא וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים מִזִּקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶ֖ם מֵרָחֹֽק׃ (ב) וְנִגַּ֨שׁ מֹשֶׁ֤ה לְבַדּוֹ֙ אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה וְהֵ֖ם לֹ֣א יִגָּ֑שׁוּ וְהָעָ֕ם לֹ֥א יַעֲל֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ׃ (ג) וַיָּבֹ֣א מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיְסַפֵּ֤ר לָעָם֙ אֵ֚ת כׇּל־דִּבְרֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה וְאֵ֖ת כׇּל־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֑ים וַיַּ֨עַן כׇּל־הָעָ֜ם ק֤וֹל אֶחָד֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כׇּל־הַדְּבָרִ֛ים אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַעֲשֶֽׂה׃ (ד) וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֵ֚ת כׇּל־דִּבְרֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֣ם בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וַיִּ֥בֶן מִזְבֵּ֖חַ תַּ֣חַת הָהָ֑ר וּשְׁתֵּ֤ים עֶשְׂרֵה֙ מַצֵּבָ֔ה לִשְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃


  • Valentine’s Day this past week, which isn’t exactly yontif, but I know is meaningful for many
  • Makes me think of the weddings I’m blessed to do.
  • When I do weddings: favorite moment is the Ketubah Signing
  • Small intimate moment before the grand ceremony
  • Talk about the importance of the ketubah as a covenant, a brit, a binding commitment
  • Words of passion spoken in the moment of elation, the high of first love, is one thing, but maintaining the commitment in difficult times is another thing entirely
  • Or, as my teacher Larry Kushner would say, the point is to be able to say I love you, even in those moments where neither partner likes each other very much.
  • Here we see what appears to be a moment of profound ecstacy, as Israel stands at Sinai and proclaims “all that God will say we will faithfully do!” And we might dismiss these as words of passion on the part of Israel.
  • But this is also a covenantal moment, a moment where Israel is clear-eyed about what it means to follow the mitzvot and become God’s people. The commentator Ibn Ezra points out that when the text says that Israel responds with one voice, they are speaking as if they are one person. A moment of unity for the Jewish people as they embrace their destiny.
  • Now, we can argue over what it means to ‘faithfully do’ as Israel claims; surely we have not always followed the mitzvot, our sacred obligations, with equal devotion or even understanding of what they all meant.
  • Nevertheless, in this moment, Israel embraces its identity, even as two people embrace their new identities as they sign a ketubah and step under the chuppah–to devote themselves–ourselves–to God’s commandments, to be devoted to God’s mission. Not every day is easy, and some days it’s easier to love God than like God, never mind each other, but this is what it means for us to move forward.
  • May we find the way to do so. Amen.