Parashat Yitro: The Giving and Receiving of the Torah

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, pointed out that we must carefully distinguish between the giving of the Torah and the receiving of the Torah. He gave an explanation about this which he had learned from his father, Maran Ha-Rav Kook, an idea which was both simple and deep. On the one hand, the Master of the Universe descends to us. "And Hashem descended on Mt. Sinai" (Shemot 19:20). Hashem lowers himself to meet us. "Who remembers us in our lowly state" (Tehillim 136:23). On the other hand, since Hashem descends, we are "invited" to meet him by exalting ourselves.
This week's parashah, Yitro, and Mishpatim, the one for next week, are a pair. In Parashat Yitro we are given an overview in which all 613 mitzvot are hinted at within the Ten Commandments, while in Mishpatim the details are included. At the end of this parashah, we see our elevation: "They saw the G-d of Israel, and under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of the heaven in purity" (Shemot 2:10).
Hashem's descent and our ascent are one amazing meeting.