An Offer You Can't Refuse ­ Article ­ BINA

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An Offer You Can't Refuse

by Rabbi Aron Moss

Question of the Week:

I read a weird thing. The Talmud says when G-d offered the Torah to the Jewish people, He held an upside down mountain over their heads and said "Accept the Torah or else!" I find this difficult on two levels. Are we supposed to really believe that G-d picked up a mountain? Sounds more like Greek mythology than Judaism. But more than that, are we meant to respect a G-d who bullies us into subservience?


The Talmud often throws out statements that seem bizarre. This is a brilliant teaching tool, an attention grabber. We read some way-out idea, react with puzzlement, and then look deeper to find out what it really means. The upside down mountain is a great example.

The Kabbalah teaches that the earth's landscape, with its peaks and gorges, is a metaphor for human spirituality. A mountain is earth reaching upward. It represents the yearning of earthly life to connect to its divine source above, man's thirst for a higher connection. This is why so many great spiritual moments occur on a mountain top, that piece of earth that yearns to touch the heavens.

If a mountain peak represents the human desire to reach heavenward, an upside down mountain must depict the opposite: G-d's desire to reach out to us, His awesome love for His creations. It is not just we who seek G-d, G-d desperately seeks us too.

G-d wanted to let us know just how much He loves us. The image of a mountain suspended above us is symbolic code language for G-d reaching out to tell us how deeply He wants a relationship with us.

When someone is so open about their love for you, and that love is pure and sincere, it is impossible not to respond with love. We were so overwhelmed by this divine embrace that we were forced to love G-d back.

So the Torah was given to us in a shower of love. Our souls were all present at that awesome event. Each one of us felt the warm embrace of G-d's affection. And at that moment we couldn't help but reciprocate that love, and dedicate ourselves to living up to our divine calling.

This is what we celebrate on Shavuos. That we matter so much to G-d that He made us an offer we couldn't refuse.

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