Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Yitro (Exodus 18-20)Email and Mt. Sinai

Last year The Wall Street Journal had an article about a new way companies are reaching their customers: email (The Hot New Channel for Reaching Real People: Email). Yes, the medium that many deem as archaic and on its way out, is actually making a comeback for certain purposes. In fact, recent studies have shown that money spent on email marketing is more effective than money spent on social media campaigns. Why is this so? Because other platforms use algorithms to try to figure out what you are interested in. Emails don’t attempt to figure out what you want. You can opt-in and opt-out of receiving them and they don’t nudge you to read them while you are interested in something else. We may get a flood of emails every day, but if we do decide to open one of them, the marketer, for perhaps only a single moment, has our undivided attention.
One of the most enigmatic verses describing the Sinai experience states:
The sound of the shofar grew increasingly stronger; Moses would speak and G-d answered him with a voice. (Exodus 19:19) Did G-d really respond to what Moses was saying? What was the role of the loud shofar while this was taking place? Rabbeinu Bachya (Spain, 14th century) makes the obvious observation that it was physically impossible for Moses to simultaneously speak to millions of people and have everyone hear him. Couple that with the fact that Moses had to compete with the sound of a shofar, which was getting progressively louder (The sound of the shofar grew increasingly stronger). Therefore, the Almighty performed a miracle within a miracle by amplifying Moshe’s voice. This is hinted in the verse, when it says that “G-d answered him with a voice.” In addition, He enabled the people to discern Moses’ voice from the sound of the shofar. Both the Sinai experience and the story about email marketing, each in their own way highlight the challenge of hearing a message in a noisy environment. That noise could be actual audible noise or it could be the noise of all of the distractions that constantly bombard us. We don’t have the miracles of Mt. Sinai to help us filter out that noise and therefore, if we want to hear our family members talking to us, our Rabbis or mentors teaching us or even our own inner voices, we need to proactively block out the noise and listen. Good Shabbos