In Sefer Devarim, Hashem had Moshe Rabbeinu repeat the Asseret HaDibrot to Bnei Yisrael, but this time, Hashem commanded Moshe to change the text of the Ten Commandments. The Kli Yakar explains that when Hashem dictated the first set in Sefer Shemot, the entire world heard the Dibrot, even though they were intended only for Bnei Yisrael. Hashem did not want the world to have a single reason to criticize the Dibrot, and amended them accordingly. However, the second time Hashem had Moshe read the Dibrot to Bnei Yisrael, only the Jews could hear it, so there was no fear of the nations’ criticizing the Dibrot. Specifically, Hashem instructed Moshe to add the phrase “KaAsher Tzivecha Hashem Elokecha,” “As Hashem your God commanded you” (Devarim 5:12, 16) to the commandments of Shabbat and honoring parents, because, as Rashi explains, these two Mitzvot were previously given at Marah. However, if the nations would have heard this, they would have been upset that Hashem chose to share specific Mitzvot with Bnei Yisrael and not them, and would have complained that Bnei Yisrael had a leg up on the Mitzvot. Another example of a change to the Aseret HaDibrot can be found in the different accounts of Shabbat. The Dibrot in Shemot state, “Zachor Et Yom HaShabbat LeKadesho,” “Remember the day of Shabbat to keep it holy” (Shemot 20:8), while in Sefer Devarim, the command used is “Shamor,” “Observe” (Devarim 15:12), which has a stronger connotation. If the nations would have heard that they must carefully guard Shabbat, they would have argued that elsewhere, it is stated that the nations are forbidden from observing Shabbat. Because of such scenarios, Hashem made sure to include these statements only in the second Dibrot. However, even with Hashem’s making sure that the Dibrot were phrased in the best possible way, the nations of the world still rejected the Torah. Once they heard a few examples of Mitzvot, they realized they couldn’t commit to all the Torah’s laws, and Hashem was able to give it to Bnei Yisrael.
The relationship between Bnei Yisrael and Hashem is compared to a relationship between a husband and wife. When Bnei Yisrael congregated at Har Sinai, the Midrash states that Hashem held the mountain over their heads as a Chupah in order to complete the “Kiddushin” between Hashem and the Jews. Two of the most important aspects of Judaism, specifically Jewish marriage, are Tzeni’ut, modesty, and respect for one another. The Maharal explains that love occurs when two Neshamot are linked at their cores; they share the same essence. The true essence of an individual can be determined only when he acts privately in a secluded area, as he does without ulterior motives. It can be said that Tzeni’ut is when a person acts discreetly and out of pureness of the heart. This is why the physical manifestation of Tzeni’ut enables people to recognize their inner beauty and appreciate it by recognizing its value. Our Chachamim tell us that the way to do so is to keep our beauty guarded. Our true essence comes out in marriage and Tefillah, which is our method to communicate with our “spouse,” Hashem. Such a relationship is what brings out a person’s true self.
Although we had such a relationship with Hashem, we were never able to form a fully modest relationship, because our spouse, Hashem, is not an ordinary human being, and it would not be respectful for Hashem to offer the Torah only to Bnei Yisrael. Therefore, He offered it to all the nations. Additionally, He had to give Bnei Yisrael the proper type of Emunah that would enable them to pass it down through all the generations; this is the reason he gave it with miraculous thunder and lightning. However, because there was a lack of Tzeni’ut, Bnei Yisrael lacked Emunah, and just 40 days after this amazing experience, they committed Cheit HaEigel. Rashi comments that the second Luchot were given without great fanfare because the evil eye had an effect on the first set. Rashi then states that there is nothing greater than Tzeni’ut.
When the Luchot were first read, Hashem could not express everything in the ideal way He wanted to, because the other nations would voice their complaints. Only in Devarim, when Bnei Yisrael had true Tzeni’ut, privacy from the other nations, could Hashem fully explain the Dibrot.
In conclusion, the ideal way to receive the Torah and to learn it is to do so privately and with complete sincerity. Learning in Shul on the night of Shavuot is beautiful, but we must challenge ourselves to maintain sincerity in our learning to enable us to grow closer to Hashem. If not, we risk falling into the same mistakes we are still trying to make up for. May we all be blessed with true sincerity and Tzeni’ut in our daily actions, and grow from all the Torah we learn Shavuot night.