Sivan and Sinai: The Power of Unity

June 7, 2024


My grandfather, Sabba as we affectionately called him, was a Hebrew language expert. Growing up in New York and New Jersey, we almost always spoke English at home, but if we ever did say anything in Hebrew and made a mistake, we could be sure that Sabba would call us out on it. I did not inherit the full extent of his grammatical expertise, but I can recognize a glaring grammatical problem such as the one that is found in Exodus 19:2:

This verse, which speaks about the Israelites’ journey from Rephidim to Mount Sinai, states that they journeyed, they entered, and they encamped, all using the plural form of these verbs. But when it says, “Israel encamped there in front of the mountain,” the Hebrew verb is written in the singular form (vayichan instead of vayachanu). What is the reason for this switch?

The Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai “in the third month after the Exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt, on that very day, they came to the Desert of Sinai” (Exodus 19:1). According to the sages, “that very day” was the first day of the third month, the Hebrew month of Sivan.

After traveling through the desert for weeks, the Israelites finally arrived at Mount Sinai. They had been anticipating this moment as God promised Moshe at the burning bush: “that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship Hashem at this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).

The arrival at Mount Sinai and the acceptance of the Torah was a fulfillment of one of the goals of the Exodus. Freed from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, the Jews were able to commit themselves to God.

By accepting the Torah on Mount Sinai, Israel entered into a “marriage contract” with God, promising to follow His commandments and be His emissaries to the rest of the world. Just as marriage requires complete commitment and loyalty, the covenant at Sinai required the Israelites to be wholly united in purpose and spirit. This moment of unity was foundational for the Jewish people to accept their role as the Chosen Nation.

It is for this reason that the phrase “Israel encamped there in front of the mountain” uses a singular verb, for the sages teach that at that moment the Israelites were united as one, as if with a single mind and a single heart. They reached this heightened unity on the first of Sivan and accepted the Torah on the 6th of Sivan.

We say on Passover, “If He had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us the Torah – it would have been enough.” This is puzzling. How would it have been enough to reach the mountain but not get the Torah? What would have been the point?

Something special happened on Mount Sinai even before the Torah was given. Just standing together, united, was itself something worthwhile. Coming together as one and putting aside all our differences carries great significance on its own.

Sivan, the third month in the Hebrew calendar, corresponds to May-June in the Gregorian calendar. It marks the beginning of hotter weather and the anticipation of summer vacation for children. During Sivan, Jews celebrate Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. But in addition to accepting the Torah on Mount Sinai, the month of Sivan also celebrates unity. Sivan is a month when we not only recommit ourselves to God and His teachings, but also a time to focus on coming together as one.

Unity is not only a historical necessity but also a contemporary imperative. Before October 7th, Israel experienced deep internal divisions. However, the events of that day brought unprecedented unity among Israelis. Communities divided along political and social lines came together, demonstrating compassion and solidarity in ways not seen for many years.

This recent surge in unity showcases the potential for collective strength and resilience. Maintaining this sense of togetherness is vital not just for societal harmony but also for redemption. The Jewish sages teach that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. Just as the Israelites needed to be united at Sinai to receive the Torah, modern-day Jews must strive for unity to bring the Messiah. The month of Sivan reminds us that unity is not just an ideal but a necessity. Through unity, the Jewish people have historically found strength and will continue to thrive.

Unity is also essential beyond the Jewish community. In these unprecedented times, Jews and Christians have come together in remarkable ways. We must continue to unite to fight evil, spread truth, and bring about the peace and unity that will characterize the messianic age described by the prophets.

As we reflect on the lessons of Sivan and recent events, we are reminded of the importance of unity. May we merit to all stand united and see the final redemption come quickly.

Israeli soldiers are risking their lives to protect us all from Islamic terrorism. But they need our help. Sign up for Israel365 Action to receive updates on how YOU can help fight Hamas and its supporters in the United States and around the world.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email

Recent Posts
A Nation Born in One Day
Behaalotecha – The Alternate Storyline in the Book of Numbers
Heal Her Now

Related Articles

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email