I have seen many divrei torah about the fact that Har Sinai was not the tallest mountain (based on Sota 5a) and the importance of humility in acquiring torah. But, why was the torah given on a mountain at all? If anything, based on these divrei torah, you would expect it to have been given in a valley.

What was the reason that Hashem gave the torah from on top of a mountain?

3 Answers 3


They say in the name of the Kotzker, that even though being haughty is disgusting in the eyes of Hashem, there is still a need for a minimal amount of haughtiness. (Shemini SheBshminis) The purpose of this minimal amount of haughtiness is in order not to be embarrassed from those who make fun of his good deeds and to realize his value in heaven. Therefore it was given on a mountain, however the lowest one.

  • What is The Kotzker adding over The Talmud in Sotah (5A)?
    – Menachem
    May 3, 2013 at 18:01

In this article, Rabbi Michoel Gourarie answers [I believe based on the Lubavitcher Rebbe's explanation in Likkutei Sichos vol. 1 pg. 276]:

Humility is often erroneously associated with feelings of nothingness, self-negation, inferiority, unworthiness and being undeserving. However in truth, the consequence of these attitudes is not humility. On the contrary, feelings of nothingness lead to emptiness and insecurity. The person with these thoughts has no drive to achieve and feels unimportant, failing to recognize the significance in the good that he/she does. In fact, false humility leads to arrogance. An insecure person is threatened by the views and perceptions of others, and needs to convince himself and others that he is worthy of approval. False humility brings egocentricity and self absorption.

Real humility can only be there together with a healthy sense of self. The humble person is fully aware of who he is. He acknowledges his talents, strengths and weaknesses. The humble individual feels safe with his identity and is confident and secure. On the one hand he recognizes that he has a part to play and that G-d acknowledges the importance of his good deeds. At the same time it is specifically this feeling of inner safety that allows him to: make space for others, understand that his strengths are G-d given and do not make him better than anyone else, feel secure enough with himself to understand another point of view with tolerance and respect, be discreet about his achievements without the need for great publicity..

That’s why G-d chose a mountain not a valley. G-d does not want you to be an empty valley with feelings of unworthiness and emptiness. He wants you to be a strong mountain – but a humble one.


There's a widespread vision of God as "up there" and some evil opposite as "down there". Up is good and down is bad in the world of vertical corollaries. You have to work to go up but going downward is oh so easy, like sin. So it follows that the torah would "come down from the mountain". Judaism has no literal recognition of God as a material being such as could exist on a mountain, as that would be idolatry. However one name of God used early on is El Shaddai, which is shown in extrabiblical semitic to be a "God of the mount", or as I prefer to say, "God of the bluff". Whether "mount" refers to a geographical mountain, a horse or a reproductive activity I can't say. The easiest answer is that it's a bluff.

  • 3
    Are you trolling? You're not sure what mount means? And can you source this novel definition of God's name?
    – Ariel
    Apr 26, 2013 at 23:38

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