Mt. Sinai– Communal Receiving of “The Book”
At the receiving of Torah all of those present reached a state of Prophetic consciousness, hearing the same words uttered by the Creator through Moses, the greatest Prophet of all. While it is true that Moses heard things others did not, they all heard the word of God revealed through Moses simultaneously. Furthermore, it is said that all present had no regard for themselves but only for each other. Their level of experiencing themselves as one body, as one people, united in the experience of being in the presence of God, has been the testimony of the covenant between the Jewish people and God ever since. The Torah received then is the same Torah studied every day of every year by the living community of this People of the Book.
Moses – The Greatest Prophet Who Ever Was, Is or Will Be
Tradition teaches us that Moses was unlike any other Prophet. “God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) “Unlike other Prophets, Moses was always in a potential state of prophecy, he could therefore receive God’s revelation at will.” “When Moses went into the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Moed), he heard the Voice speaking to him.” (Numbers 7:89). When asked an opinion, Moses was able to answer, “Stand by, and let me hear what instructions God gives regarding you.”(Numbers 8:9). Moses was able to receive revelation from God at any time and in any place.”
How “The Book” Was Written
As it was through Moses that Torah was given, it is interesting to find out how the People of the Book say the Torah was recorded. A variety of classical Talmudic and Kabbalistic sources describe the process.
“God would dictate each passage of the Torah to Moses and Moses would repeat it out loud. He would then write it down. God would dictate a paragraph to Moses, and then give him a break in order to consider it. These breaks are preserved in the Torah in the form of spacing, dividing the text into paragraphs (Parshiot). Moses would transcribe each of these portions as a small scroll. Shortly before his death, he combined all portions to form the Torah that we have today. According to another opinion, with the exception of certain portions that were needed earlier, the entire Torah was preserved orally until just before Moses’ death when he wrote it all down at once.”
Another point of view is “the entire Torah was given to Moses during two intervals, the first part was given during the year after the Exodus. The rest was given shortly before Israel crossed the Jordon at the end of the forty years in the desert. Between these two periods, there was a hiatus of 38 years, during which no portion of the Torah was given.”
It is also said that before he died, Moses wrote by hand, thirteen Torah scrolls. Twelve of these were given to the twelve tribes and the thirteenth was hidden inside the Ark of the Covenant. Eventually the Ark was put in the Holy of the Holies of the Temple and only occasionally was the scroll brought out in order to check the accuracy of other scrolls produced. One hopes this holy original scroll is still preserved, hidden since 70 CE, and will be revealed at the arrival of the Moshiach (the Jewish Messiah), the Davidic Prophet King and redeemer who will assist God in bringing world peace.
The Covenant Between God and the People of the Book is Prophecy
Prophecy is predicated on conducting one’s inner and outer life according to very particular guidelines. Being not just for the individual but the world, it confirms the oneness of all creation. The Holy Torah begins with Creation, and ends testifying to
the greatest Prophet whoever was, is, or will be, Moses our Teacher (Moshe Rabeinu). If prophecy is inextricably bound up in Torah, then the Prophet and the art of prophecy can be viewed as the outcome of Creation itself, the potential outcome of all the Holy teachings of Judaism. Following “the Book” can produce the Prophetic experience.
An observant life today is based on the same teachings given to Moses and the Israelites . The same words held holy and unchangeable as the divine word of God, have not been changed nor can they be as the “Thirteen Principles” attest to. Adherence to “the Book” can lead to union with God and the perfection of humanity, the final outcome and purpose of Creation.
Excerpted from Kabbalistic Teachings of the Female Prophets
The Seven Holy Women of Ancient Israel
by J.Zohara M. Hieronimus
Inner Traditions, 2008