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וְכָל־הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹת וְאֶת־הַלַּפִּידִם וְאֵת קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר וְאֶת־הָהָר עָשֵׁן וַיַּרְא הָעָם וַיָּנֻעוּ וַיַּעַמְדוּ מֵרָחֹק׃ וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה דַּבֵּר־אַתָּה עִמָּנוּ וְנִשְׁמָעָה וְאַל־יְדַבֵּר עִמָּנוּ אֱלֹהִים פֶּן־נָמוּת׃

All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they fell back and stood at a distance. “You speak to us,” they said to Moses, “and we will obey; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” (Ex 20)

The Gemmorah clarifies that the people heard only two out of the decalogue straight from G-d and then retreated to a great distance and the rest of the commandments they asked Moses to intermediate as they could not bear G-d's presence.

As the Torah depicts it IMHO, the incident seems unplanned and unfortunate.

Why couldn't G-d adjust Himself or people's perception that Matan Torah would not end so abruptly?

  • I think there's a Midrash that explains that when they initially approached Mt. Sinai, they were :angelic", and probably able to bear the loud voices. Then, something happened. On a "simpler" level, perhaps they really didn't know what to expect. I mean, thunder, lightening and a loud shofar, I guess people can bear. But God's loud booming voice? I guess that would scare anybody, no? – DanF Oct 24 at 22:17
  • @DanF I agree completely about the people, but what about G-d? Did He "plan" it to end so? Couldn't He manipulate it differently? – Al Berko Oct 24 at 22:25
  • It might have been a nisayon, to see if the Jews were trusting enough that they won’t be scared of dying, in which case they failed. – Lo ani Oct 25 at 11:58

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