Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Today is Shavuot. 50 days after Passover. It is most significantly the holiday which commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.  My family will be heading to our local synagogue soon for services, and I will participate in the reading.  My section (Exodus 19:7-13) recounts Moses instructing the Israelites in the proper preparation for receiving G*d's word.  The people reply, "All that G*d commands we shall do."

It is notable that the people reply in this fashion 3 times, and on the third time they famously say, "We shall do and we shall hear."  Isn't this in the wrong order?  Doesn't one need to hear the commands first, and then fulfill them?  No, says the text.  We must make the commitment to obey first!  Then find out what is involved.

On the other hand, we can also read "hear" to mean "understand".  Now the entire narrative makes more sense.  Obviously the people "heard" what they must do from the beginning, and said, "Yes, G*d!"  I mean, there you are, the Red Sea just split for you, you see the fire in the mountain, how can you say "no"?!  But only through repeatedly performing G*d's commandments do we come to truly "hear" their meaning.

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