Parsha Q&A

For the week ending 4 May 2013 / 23 Iyyar 5773

Mount Sinai

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Leo G. wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I’ve heard that Mount Sinaiis called by other names. Is that true? Thanks.

Dear Leo G.,

According to the Midrash, Mount Sinai the place where we received the Torah has eight names, as follows:

  1. Har Sinai - from the word sneh - "bush." This refers to the burning bush on Har Sinai. Also, Sinai is related to the word sinah - "hatred" and "rejection." By giving the Torah to human beings instead of to the angels, G-d thereby rejected the angels.
  2. Har Ha-Elokim - "G-d's Mountain," because G-d revealed His Torah there to the Jewish people. Through the Torah, the Jews become a G-dly people.
  3. Beit Imi - "My Mother's House." By accepting the Torah the Jews were born as a nation.
  4. Har Chorev, from the word "cherev"- "sword." The Torah invests special Torah courts, sanhedrin, with authority to try capital cases.
  5. Har Chemed - "Desirable Mountain." G-d desired Mount Sinai as the place from which to give the most desirable of treasures, the Torah.
  6. Har Bashan from the word "shen"- "tooth." Sustenance and blessing come to the world in the merit of Torah study and observance. Just as teeth prepare the food for digestion, so too the Torah brings nourishment to the world.
  7. Har Gavnonim, from the word "gevina"- "cheese." Cheese is a metaphor for purity, probably because it's made from pure white milk.
  8. Har Moriah - "Mountain of Teaching," where G-d taught Moses the Torah.

Sources:

  • Shmot Rabba 2
  • Bamidbar Rabba 1
  • Shir Hashirim Rabba 8

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