In December 1974 the Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek received one of the first Nobel Prizes in economics. Hayek titled his speech “The Pretence of Knowledge.” Concluding his speech, he warned, “If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized level prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.” |
Politicians and thinkers would be wise not to try to bend history as “the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner a gardener does for his plants.”
“Moshe ascended the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of God rested upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for a six-day period. He called to Moshe on the seventh day from the midst of the cloud. The appearance of the glory of God was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of the Children of Israel. Moshe arrived in the midst of the cloud and ascended the mountain, and Moshe was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:15-18)
Moshe just guided the Children of Israel into the Covenant of Sinai. They didn’t know what to do next. They needed their teacher to help them with this new level of existence and relationship with God, but where’s Moshe? He went up the mountain. He wasn’t there on the day after to teach them the next step.
They had Aharon, Nadav and Avihu to consult about problems and conflicts, but who was there to teach them the next step?
Unless, the next step was to learn and experience two fundamental ideas about a life of Torah: “He cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.” A major part of studying Torah is the constant awareness that, “Where’s Moshe?” the sense that we will not achieve full knowledge. Torah always exists as something beyond us: No matter how much we know, we will only taste, “a drop in the vast ocean.”
They also had to understand that Torah is not information, but, “cultivate(s) growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner a gardener does for his plants.”
The Sinai experience created a Garden, paralleling the original Garden in Eden, where there were few instructions other than to grow. This is why the Sages compare the Children of Israel immediately after Sinai to Adam and Eve before the sin.
Where was Moshe? He was teaching them even as he was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. In a manner of speaking, he is still there reminding us that we will not achieve full knowledge of Torah, but will be able to create an environment that will cultivate our spiritual growth and development.
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