The fourth book of the Torah starts with the following words, “The Lord spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert, in the Tent of Meeting” (Num. 1:1). According to some commentators, “Whenever divine communication occurred in the first year [following the exodus], before the erection of the Tabernacle, the text writes that it took place “at Mount Sinai.” But after the Tabernacle was erected…the text does not say “at Mount Sinai,” but rather “in the wilderness of Sinai in the Tent of Meeting.” (Rashbam, Num 1:1).
There is a deep connection between the Sinai and the Tent of Meeting. Not only in the way that some communications between God and Moses appear in the Torah but also in the way the people arranged the camp. According to Nachmanides (in his introduction to the book of Numbers) the way the Torah describes that the people camped, each one with his own tribe, around and protecting the Tabernacle was the same way that people back then camped around Mount Sinai while they were waiting to receive the Torah.
I would like to suggest, approaching Shavuot, that the Tent of Meeting became to the Jewish people not only a portable tabernacle but also a portable Sinai. Sinai and the revelation which occurred there was a “one time event” but our ancestors wanted to continue that revelation and preserve an eternal connection between Mount Sinai and the Tent of Meeting. Today the revelation continues when we as a people, in the same way that our ancestors put the revelation at Sinai and, later on, the Tent of Meeting in the center of their camps, we put the Torah in the center of our lives.
Sinai – Tent of Meeting – Torah. That is the sequence of revelation. When we put the Torah, its study and its observance, in the center –physically and spiritually—of our lives we are able to make God´s revelation eternal.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!