Up for Debate

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This module contains one key debate amongst the various classical commentaries of Chumash.

At the end of the Parsha, the Torah describes an incredible revelation the Jews experienced at Har Sinai. The Torah cryptically states 

 

Exodus 24:10-11
and they saw the God of Israel: under His feet there was  a pavement of sapphire, like the sky in purity.

Yet He did not strike the leaders of the Israelites; they gazed at God, and they ate and drank.

וַיִּרְא֕וּ אֵ֖ת אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְתַ֣חַת רַגְלָ֗יו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה֙ לִבְנַ֣ת הַסַּפִּ֔יר וּכְעֶ֥צֶם הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם לָטֹֽהַר׃

וְאֶל־אֲצִילֵי֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לֹ֥א שָׁלַ֖ח יָד֑וֹ וַֽיֶּחֱזוּ֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וַיֹּאכְל֖וּ וַיִּשְׁתּֽוּ׃

 

The verse describes the Jews having this spiritual vision followed by them eating and drinking. There is a disagreement amongst the commentators about this action. Was it good or bad that they did this? 

 

Rashi says that this was a negative action. Rashi thinks that it was disrespectful to eat and drink in the midst of such an awesome and holy experience. The Ramban says that the fact that the Jews ate and drank while looking at G-d was their celebration. This was them expressing their true happiness. In times of true happiness Jews are supposed to celebrate with food, andhere is no difference. The Jews wanted to eat and drink in order to celebrate.