In Maamad Har Sinai Hashem reveals himself to the Jewish nation in a way that does not repeat itself during the entire history. Many commentators ask why was it necessary? What was the purpose? Why did Hashem not let Moshe give the entire Torah, why did Hashem have to reveal himself to the entire nation?
Many answers were given to these questions, however, here we will bring one answer that begins with the galut in Egypt. The Jewish people go down to Egypt in the days of Yaakov and the tribes. As the years go by, the tribes get bigger, as the Torah states: “The Children of Israel were fruitful, teemed, increased, and became strongvery, very much so.”(Exodus 1:7) A natural result of this unnatural event is the continuation of the verse: “and the land became filled with them.” Some of the Jews must leave the land of Goshen and move to live in the Egyptian neighborhoods due to lack of place. From here on the path is short and sure to 49 levels of impurity. The Jewish nation became part of the Egyptian culture in its ways, its beliefs, and it customs. After 210 years, at the last minute, Hashem sends Moshe to redeem the nation. This redemption is full of ongoing negotiations with Pharaoh and plagues. Many say that Moshe, in the name of Hashem, through the plagues, is fighting not only Pharaoh but also the Egyptian belief in idols.
It is obvious that the need to fight the Egyptian idols was not only to teach the Egyptians a lesson, this war is important also for the Jews who are stuck deep in the Egyptian belief and their customs. It is necessary to take Egypt out of the Jews and not only the Jews out of Egypt. The Jews theological transition is not easy and takes time. It begins with the ten plagues and till Mount Sinai they go through many ups and downs. The idols in the Jewish mind do not disappear in a moment. The Jews use some common expressions, such as: “What is this that you have done to us to take us out of Egypt?”(Exodus 14:11), “And they had faith in Hashem and in Moses, his servant.” (Exodus 14:31), “For you have taken us out to this Wilderness”(Exodus 16:3).
Maamad Har Sinai was to dismiss all the doubts. Hashem will speak directly and the entire nation will see and hear His voice, this way their belief in Hashem will strengthen with no doubt. The entire nation will see that Moshe does not do anything on his own, and that Hashem is in charge of everything that Moshe and Aharon do.
Did Maamad Har Sinai serve its purpose? If we follow the Jews reaction later on we will see that the answer is no. 40 days later, the Jews treat Moshe as usual: “For this man Moses who brought us up from the land of Egypt-we do not know what became of him.” (Exodus 32:1) Also during the second year to their stay in the desert we find that the Jews have a similar attitude towards their leaders. As Korach tells Moshe and Aharon:” You have killed the people of Hashem.” (Numbers 17:6) Korach, as well, relates idol spirits to Moshe and Aharon.
Even at the end of the 40 years in the dessert the Jews still have a slight belief in idol spirits, as they say: “Why have you brought the congregation of Hashem…And why did you bring us up from Egypt.” (Numbers 20:4-5).
According to the above shall we say that Maamad Har Sinai was unnecessary? God forbid! Experiencing the `thunder and lightning` at Mount Sinai gives much spirituality for the future, however, it is not enough. Changing beliefs cannot happen in three months. This is a big change that may happen during a generation or generations. The Egyptian culture and customs were a part of the Jewish nation for hundreds of years. This change takes many years and even then, the previous beliefs will leave their foot print.
If Hashem`s education of the Jewish nation takes many years, we, while educating our children and students must take that into consideration. Change and education are not due to one deed or saying, but a result of hard work for many years. Although a great experience is important once in a while, it cannot replace hard daily work of our education and religious existence.