Did Moses really speak to over a million people?

December 3rd, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I am studying my Hebrew roots, and lately a lot of hidden treasure springs up as I study the scriptures. One thing however bugs me. I was watching a teaching and the teacher requested the people in the room to move forward so that they could hear him. My mind then jumped to Mount Sinai when Moses read the Law, to 600,000 men (and there were also woman and children there). How did Moses achieve that all these people could hear him? 

I need to wrap my mind around this. Hashem did amazing wonders in the desert, however how did everyone hear Moses? 

Thank you and Shalom

∼ Charlene

Answer:

Dear Charlene,

We were quite tickled by your question. It is so important that we look at Bible passages that we have read a thousand time and still approach them with a desire to find new questions jumping out at us. This is exactly what you did!

While we have no problem with the idea of God miraculously amplifying either Moses’ voice or else the hearing abilities of the Israelites, a miracle might not be necessary.

In the mid-1800s, the Lincoln-Douglas debates took place. With no microphones, more than 10,000 people listened intently to the two men speaking in outdoor fields. Years earlier, in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin was among those who attended one of many revival meetings held by a Pastor George Whitefield. Pastor Whitefield’s reputation was wide-spread and he drew massive crowds.  Franklin estimated that Whitefield could be heard by over thirty-thousand people in the open air, though, until hearing him in person he had thought claims of the size of the crowds to be exaggerated.

Often, as technology advances, human skills recede. The fact that we can’t imagine people’s voices today carrying as well or that, as is likely, people’s hearing used to be substantially more acute, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t so.

Keep listening,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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