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The Three Dimensions of the Smoking Mountain
by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Of the four images that describe the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, only the final image of the smoking mountain actually touches physical reality. What is the deep message of smoke and why is this the final image that is meant to linger in our consciousness? In this meditation, Rabbi Ginsburgh analyzes the three dimensions of smoke and how we can unite these dimensions in our senses so that we may transform earthly reality to a dwelling place for God.

The Four Audio Visual Images at Mount Sinai

 The Torah gives a four-image description of the experience of Israel at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. 
The people saw:

  1. voices
  2. torches
  3. blast of the shofar
  4. the smoking mountain

The second and fourth images are visual. Paradoxically, the first and third images are actually audio images that at Sinai were perceived visually as well. This is because the experience reached such a deep point in the soul that the physical senses intermingled.

The first three revelations are supernatural. They did not take hold in reality. The fourth image of the smoking mountain is physical. The fire took hold of the mountain and was seen in reality as smoke.

These four images correspond to the four letters of God's Name:


image

letter of God's Name  

sefirah

Touched Reality through:  

Manifestation  

voices

yud

wisdom

eye

sound of Ten Commandments being spoken by God

torches

hei

understanding

mind

perception of heavenly torch

shofar

Vav

loving-kindness thru foundation

heart

shofar awakens emotions

smoke

hei  

kingdom

eye/taste

union of three dimensions of reality

The final image of smoke is the one that lingers longest in our mind and that should accompany us as we daily receive the Torah anew. What does smoke represent?

The Three Dimensions of "Smoke" עשן

hebrew letter

dimension

coordinates

power

positive manifestation

hebrew meaning

experience

ayin

olam
"Space"

up-down
right-left
front-back

to discern between light and darkness

light

eye

to correctly perceive reality

Shin

shanah
"Time"

past-future

to discern between truth and falsehood

truth

tooth
(taste)

to correctly integrate reality

Nun

nefesh
Soul

good-bad

to discern between good and evil

good

When we meditate on the image of the smoking mountain, we should attempt to experience the merging of light, truth and good, and unite the perceptions of sight and taste to merit to receive the Torah anew every day.

 

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