In the Thickness of the Cloud
By: הרב רונן נויברט
Our Parasha provides us with the miraculous description of the giving of the Torah to Bnei Yisrael on Mount Sinai. Interestingly, this anticipated and expected event is conducted in an apparent restricted and restrained...
Our Parasha provides us with the miraculous description of the giving of the Torah to Bnei Yisrael on Mount Sinai. Interestingly, this anticipated and expected event is conducted in an apparent restricted and restrained manner, as a foggy partition separates Hashem from Bnei Yisrael: "Hashem said to Moses, "Behold! I come to you in the thickness of the cloud" (Exodus 19:9), and later on, "The people stood from afar and Moses approached the thick cloud where Hashem was" (Exodus 20:18).
The Rambam explains, that the giving of the Torah under this thick veil of a cloud symbolizes our inferiority. We, as limited human beings, cannot capture the holiness of Hashem, and cannot tolerate Hashem's full glory. The thickness of the cloud is a reflection of our limited earthly being, which prevents us from directly witnessing Hashem. Accordingly, Rav Kook explains that the foggy revelation of the Torah indicates Human spiritual weakness.
It is essential to understand the essence of this barrier between Hashem and us. This blockage that hinders the flow of the waters of the Torah (often comparable to water) consists of clouds and fog, which are generated from water.
The manner by which the Torah was given to Bnei Yisrael should be viewed as a fundamental educational lesson. Proper teaching does not involve flooding a student with enormous amounts of information, which the student will not be able to absorb. A student should not be overwhelmed by the Torah or intimidated by it. Proper education calls for the measured limited stream of holiness in a manner, which will ensure the student's ability to completely accept the Torah and follow its path.
Unfortunately, because of our limited reality, we are unable to fully capture the holiness of Hashem, we cannot bear to stand a flood of this holiness. Nevertheless, we can fully capture the Holiness of the Torah once provided to us in the form of a cloud, infusing the waters of the Torah into us in a gentle-soft manner.
Therefore, explains Rav Kook, the cloud through which Hashem is revealed is not a barrier, but rather a bridge, not an obstacle, but rather a means to provide for the complete giving of the Torah to Bnei Yisrael. The waters of the Torah are handed to us in the form of a fog, so as to ensure that the Torah is not only provided to us, but also absorbed, accepted and fully preserved by us, and in the words of Rav Kook: "the cloud which hides the divine light is actually the cloud which provides for the revealing of that divine light."