You are on page 1of 5

Tanach II Adv: Mount Sinai Assessment

How does Jacob make a connection with God?

• “Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a
pillar and poured oil on the top of it.” [Genesis 28:18]
• “He named the site Bethel...” [Genesis 28:19]
• “Jacob then made a vow, saying, 'If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that
I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's
house – the Lord shall be my God.” [Genesis 28:20-21]
• “This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God's abode; and of all that You give me, I
will set aside a tithe for You.” [Gensis 28:22]

When Jacob awakes from his dream of the angels on the ladder [Genesis 28:12] he did several
things to create a personal connection with God. After realizing that “the Lord is present in this place,
and I did not know it!” [Genesis 28:16] he takes the stone that he had been using to rest his head on and
pours oil on it as a physical sign that God had been in this place [Gensis 28:18]. Then Jacob makes a
vow saying “If God reamins with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making... the Lord
shall be my God.” [Genesis 28:20-21]. Finally Jacob says that he will set aside a tithe for God [Genesis

Jacob's realization that God is present turns his mindset from one of a son on a quest, [Genesis
28:2]; to a divine mission. The dream turned his focus of the journey from finding a wife to fulfilling
his vow of devotion to God. While he continues on his quest to find a wife, the dream has shifted has
transformed him from his the blessed son of his father [Genesis 27:28-29] to the most blessed man of
his time and the current leader of God's chosen people. That is how the dream gave Jacob a personal
connection to Hashem.

When Jacob uses the stone as a symbol of Gods precense in the place it shows a shift in what
God means to him. Previously God had been the source of his blessing that he received from his father
but when God actually comes to him personally he feels the need to represent this in its own distinct
way. This idea of a more personal connection with God is important for the communal connection to
God because if the Israelites cannot find any personal connection to God they are not likely to be loyal
and devoted to Him.

Continuing with this theme of personal connection Jacob's vow with God makes it clear that
Hashem is Jacob's God. Not just Jacob's family's God, but his own personal God. While clearly Isaac
was devoted to God up until this point Jacob has not demonstrated any personal devotion to God.
Arguably Jacob's deception of his father in order to receive the blessing which God had in essence
given to Isaac to pass on to his children, Jacob is showing that he does not respect God. Jacob says that
if God protects him than the Lord shall be his god. This shows a clear connection being established
between Jacob and God, a connection that is necessary in order for Jacob to become the new leader of
the Israelites.

What Jacob did in that place is signifigant because it shaped the connection that the Israelites
would have with God from then on. While his creation of the alter for God was more a personal thing

“It must be the Ganja, it's the marijuana that's creepin upon me, why I'm so high...” - Eminem
Tanach II Adv: Mount Sinai Assessment

for Jacob it became the norm for relations with God, this was hardly the most signifigant of what Jacob
did to establish a connection. When Jacob makes the vow to God, saying that if he is protected by God
than God shall be his god he sets up a basic contract with Hashem. Jacob laid out something similar to
the social contract theory that we see in Europe hundreds and hundreds of years later. While it took
citizens of private nations an extremely long time to be able to demand that their government protect
them Jacob imidiately says that without God's protection he will not be Jacob's god. Preiviously God
operated without much accountability, now that he was establishing a nation with Jacob as the leader
accountability became an issue and Jacob's contract with God ensured that the new nation would be
loyal to God as long as God was there to protect them.

2. Review your group analysis of Mount Sinai to analyze how a national model must update/adapt
the individual model of Jacob, speciifcally adressing how the nation's needs are different from
the needs of an individual.

a. Develop you understanding of the needs of the nation using the model of Mount Sinai.

What we see at Mount Sinai is that a unified community, bonded by both their fear and
commitment to God is necessary for the Hebrew nation. Hashem says to the people “You have seen
what I did to the Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Me. Now then, if you
will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treausred posession among all the
peopels.” [Exodus 19:4-5]. When God explains that they Hebrews are a chosen people this lays the
groundwork for unification but cannot solidify until they understand what God is, who God is. His
liberation of them from the Egyptians started this process, but his prescense at Mount Sinai and what he
does there will determin whether the people bond as a nation or fall back to their old ways. God decides
that he will present himself to the people after three days of purity and tells Moses to prepare the
people [Exodus 19:11]. The fact that God makes the people purify themselves means that His precense
will not be taken for granted.

Moses actions, guided for the most part from God, were in essence one huge group building
activity. He took these people who had been slaves in Egypt, dependent on others for all their
\needs and played off of that to switch their dependence (and with that some sort of loyalty) to God.
You can point to one point where the Hebrew people become one and bond as a nation. As they stand at
the foot of the mountain with the lightening and the dense cloud at the top of the mountain, and as the
mountain trembled violently [Exodus 19:16-19] they became one.

The first requirement for a national model isunity . First and formost the people need to
connect with each other. They cannot stand apart from one another and be ruled or lead as a nation. In
the case of the Israelites they are God's chosen people and thus they need to be united as a one people.
Before anythin happens at Mount Sinai God brings the people out of Egypt. This helps to unify them as
one people because as they are forced to run from the Egyptians and then travel together in the desert it
is natural that they would bond with one another. However, that is not enough unity for the individuals
to become a nation. The preparations that Moses instructs for the people are the next step in unifying
the Israelites. Giving them all the same instructions, to purify themselves in prepration for God and to

“It must be the Ganja, it's the marijuana that's creepin upon me, why I'm so high...” - Eminem
Tanach II Adv: Mount Sinai Assessment

stay away from the opposite sex etc... put them all in the same boat and help bond with one another in
prepartion for the final stage of the unification process: The revelation at Mount Sinai. While a dream
may have been enough for Jacob, because he was just one person, God needed to do something bigger
this time around. When Moses gathers the people at the foot of the Mountain, and God comes down
and speaks to them, with the thunder and lightening and the sound of the shofar, this completes the
unification process. Unity was something that was absent in the individual model because Jacob was by
himself, but now that we are dealing with a whole nation of people, God needed to do something bigger
to form connection with the nation.

The second requirement for a national model of connection is comfort with your leader.
The people need to feel secure and protected by their leader. Fear is not helpful when you are trying to
creat a nation. When God speaks directly to the people at Mount Sinai it may creat unity within the
community but it also makes the people fear for their lives. Thus they turn to Moses, a leader that they
feel safer with and say “You speak to us and we shall hear; let God not speak to us lest we die.”
[Exodus 20:16]. Moses tries to reassure the people that God would not have brough them out of Egypt
only to kill them [Exodus 20:17]. However, he accepts their request and mediates the communication
between God and the people from then on.

The third requirement of a national model of connection is connection to a leader. The

people dont only need to feel comfortrable with the leader, they need to feel like they have a connection
with the leader as well. In the case of the Hebrew people, their main connection will be to God, but
their intermediary connection is to Moses. Fitting, for a model such as that Moses connects to the
people by faccilitating God's communication/connection with the people. We saw this when the people
were liberated from Egypt. God was the one responsible for lifting the people out of the house of
bondage, but Moses was the one who actually led them out. At Mount Sinai Moses is the one who
faciliates the communication between God and the people and he is the one who explains to them what
they must do in preparation for God's arrival. In doing this Moses establishes a connection as a strong
leader. God establishes a much more powerful connection by doing several things. The supernatural
effects at the mountain and explaining to the people who is he and why they should worship him are
the two big things that God does to connect the people to him.

The fourth requirement of a national model of connection is guidance from a leader.

Once the nation has established a connection to the leader, they need to be guided by that leader. It is
good that the nation now has a connection to God, but where do they go from there? What does God
want from them? This is where the Ten Commandments come in. The commandments lay out for the
people in very clear terms what God wants from them. They now know how to please God and have
received the guidance necessary for the national model of connection.

The fifth requirement of a national model of connection is unity under a leader. The
group unity is nice, and the connection to the leader is nice. But it is essential that the two of these be
combined so that the unified nation answers collectivly to one leader. In the case of the Hebrew nation
and Mount Sinai, this idea can be summed up in the phrase “One Nation Under God.” This is achieved
at Mount Sinai basically in the same way that the guidance from a leader if achieved. When Hashem

“It must be the Ganja, it's the marijuana that's creepin upon me, why I'm so high...” - Eminem
Tanach II Adv: Mount Sinai Assessment

gives the people the ten commandments that unifies them under one clear set of laws which act as a
proxy for God. So while it is not always the case in other situations, in this one, the unity under a leader
has already been achieved with the guidance from a leader (because the guidance was communal in

1) unity
2) comfort with leader
3) connection to leader
4) guidance from leader
5) unity under leader

28: 10 – 33 Genesis

Chapter 19 Exodus


1) symbiotic relationship
2) revelation of importance of _____
3) marker of importance
4) unity
5) comfort with leader

Teddy Bear

What a teddy bear offers in the way of a symbiotic relationship is that you cuddle it, and it is
cuddles. It benefits from the support that it gives you when you hold it, because it enjoys being held.
While this differs in content from the symbiotic relationship of the Jewish people and God, in which
God protects the people and the people follow God's laws and worship him, it remains similar in
prinicple. The importance of having a symbiotic relationship is that one side or the other is bound to
defect if they are not both getting something out of the relationship. If us as Jews were to turn back to
idol worship, what incentive would God have to protect us? Likewise, if God stopped offering us
protection, what incentive would we have to continue to worship God?

One thing that can happen with a teddy bear, is that you may not imidiately see the importnace
of it. You may look it and go, “Well that's just a stuffed animal, that doesn't mean anything to me.” But
then, you realize, you've had this “stuffed animal” for all your life. You grew up with it, you played
with it and slept with it. The emotions that are held within the stuffing of that teddy bear are more
important than you could imagine. This is the same thing with the Jewish people and God. It is
necesarry that sometimes you look at a situation that you see as either very good or very bad and notice

“It must be the Ganja, it's the marijuana that's creepin upon me, why I'm so high...” - Eminem
Tanach II Adv: Mount Sinai Assessment

that in fact there is more than meets the eye. That in fact, God is responsible for what is going on.

A teddy bear can provide a physical symbol of your child hood. Or your youth, your innocence,
those carefree days that you now long for. When you see a teddy bear it conjures up images of playing
with the bear in your room as a child. The fact that you have something tanjible that you are able to
actually hold can bring back memories that otherwise would be lost in the back of your head. This is
something very necessary is a national connection to God. For the same reason that we errect
monuments in memory or wars or people, physical symbols that represent devotion to God are
essential. While obviously this doesn't mean idol worship, things such as the Torah scroll and the star of
David serve as physical monuments to God. They remind us when we see them, of God. In the case of
the Torah scroll it reminds us that we are all God's children and that He gave us the Torah to learn from.
When we see the Star of David it reminds us of our connection to each other as a Jewish nation.

A teddy bear is a commonly occuring childhood item. If you were to randomly sample houses
that kids lived in, in this country, you would undoubtly run across countless teddy bears. This means
that the image of a teddy bear will conjure up feelings related to childhood from a wide range of
people, thus creating a sense of unity. This is possibly the most important out of all the components of a
national model of connection. Without unity we have nothing. Without unity there is no nation. Having
something in common is what seperates us, as B'nei Yisrael and as Jews today from everyone else. If
we lose that unity then we lose our indentity as Jews.

A teddy bear provides comfort to you when you are sad, when you are lonely or when you just
need something to hug. It is a non-threatening, warm, cozy object to hold onto and you can feel safe
with it. The same is necessary with a leader. The national model for connection must include a leader
that is able to provide comfort to the members of the nation, without a leader providing some kind of
comfort/security, it will be hard to lead or connect to the nation. If a leader is feared or intimidates it's
followers to a point in which they no longer feel comfortrable following said leader, that is a major
problem. As Jews today we put ourselves in situations in which we have compassionate leaders that
provide comfort to us. These leaders can take any form, but often they take the form of a Rabbi. Rabbis
can provide guidance about spiritual issues and they can also provide comfort in times of need. This is
something we are lucky to have as Jews and part of the reason that our nation is so strong and well

“It must be the Ganja, it's the marijuana that's creepin upon me, why I'm so high...” - Eminem