This is a simple post. The point is that Chazal's insistence that Har Sinai's kedusha was ephemeral obscures the fact that it is a place of recurring Giluy Shechina. The temporary nature of the kedusha was not because the Shechina only came to Sinai once, because it was there several times. It is not because of the unique nature of Mattan Torah, because other appearances had nothing to do with Mattan Torah. It is not because the events were extrinsic, because Chazal talk about Har Sinai's intrinsic qualities. Despite this, the kedusha was temporary every time. UPDATED 1/12/21
That Har Sinai only had kedusha during the period of Mattan Torah is practically a truism. Besides the pshuto shel mikra, the Gemara in Taanis (21b) says
There are some variations on exactly how that played out. For example, Rashi in Beitza (5b) says that while the kedusha only lasted while the Shechina was on the mountain, the Shechina was there until the Shechina/Anan either appeared over the newly built Mishkan, or when the Annan lifted up from the Mishkan and they left the area near Sinai, a month and a half later. (The Mishkan was first erected near Har Sinai.)
What Rashi means by saying that the Shechina stayed till the Mishkan was erected (Rosh Chodesh Nissan,) and then saying it was there till they left the area (the twentieth of Iyar,) is a girsa issue discussed in the Achronim there. But that does not affect our discussion. The passuk in Bamidbar 10:11-12 says that the Mishkan was near Har Sinai, and that they stayed near Har Sinai till the twentieth of Iyar, and we will see that Sinai retained a special status until then.
Even though the passuk in Shemos 33:21 says that Hashem spoke to Moshe at Moshe's "Ohel Moed" until the Mishkan was built, apparently the voice came from Sinai. More evidence for this is that in 33:21, Rashi says that Hashem instructed Moshe to come up to Sinai, and calls it
The Ramban (Shemos 34:3) says like Rashi (as does Rav Saadiah Gaon brought in the Ibn Ezra) -
Whether "during Mattan Torah" means the three periods of forty days, or the entire year from Mattan Torah till they left Midbar Sinai, is not really important. The point is that unlike the Beis HaMikdash, and even unlike your local synagogue, the kedusha of Har Sinai was not a fixed kedusha - it is a kedusha contingent on the current presence of the Shechina.
One might think that the transitory nature of the Kedusha is because the Giluy Shechina on Sinai was a one-time event, but that is false. Mattan Torah was not the only time the Shechina appeared on Sinai. It was on Sinai that Hashem appeared to Moshe in the miracle of the Sneh, it was from Sinai that Hashem spoke to Moshe for the entire year after Mattan Torah, it was on Sinai that Hashem put Moshe into the Nikras HaTzur, and it was in that same Nikras HaTzur on Sinai that Eliyahu Hanavi experienced something closely akin to that of Moshe Rabbeinu.
The transitory nature of the Kedusha can not be due to Mattan Torah being an never to be repeated event. It can not be due to Mattan Torah relating to the world as a whole and not to any specific location. It must have something to do with the type of kedusha that Sinai attracted.
We'll start with the Sneh, in Shemos, 3:1
Rashi explains the name "har ha'elokim" as a reference to what would happen in the future, by Mattan Torah.
Which is like the Targumim,
The Seforno says that he went there to be misbodeid, which implies that the place had a quality that Moshe Rabbeinu was aware of, besides being remote and barren.
On to the נקרת הצור in Ki Sisa, in Shemos 33:22. When Hashem told Moshe
The Abarbanel then adds the important point that that this place was "מיועד לקבלת השפע," it was uniquely fit for nevu'a and gilui Shechina.
Also in the Seforno there in Ki Sisa - The nikras hatzur straddled the line between the world of Gashmiyus and the world of Ruchniyus (from Pesachim 54a.)
The Nikras Hatzur was used later by Eliyahu HaNavi, in Melachim I 19.
It is also in the Gaon on that passuk, where the Gaon says
As we saw above, the Seforno also told us that the Me'arah of Eliyahu was the same as Moshe Rabbeinu's and that it was created Bein Hashmashos. The source for בין השמשות is the Gemara in Pesachim 54a.
(Equating the experience of Moshe Rabbeinu with that of Eliahu Hanavi is consistent with Reb Yochanan in Yoma 3b-4a, that there was no Prisha for Moshe on Sinai, while according to Reish Lakish there, it's difficult to understand how Eliahu could just walk up to the cave on Sinai and immediately experience the presence of the Shechina without prishas shiva. I guess Eliahu's prisha was during the forty days he had to walk to get there, but it's still different than Moshe's prisha on Sinai gufa.)
Har Sinai did not have Kedushas Makom except when the Shechina was present.
On the other hand, it seems that it was a place that had a special hechsher for hashra'as haShechina.
Because of that special hechsher, it was there that the miracle of the Sneh occurred, it was there that Moshe was given his life's work of creating a new Klal Yisrael, it was there that Mattan Torah occurred and according to Rashi it remained kadosh until a year and two months after Mattan Torah, it was there that Hashem spoke to Moshe and placed him in a covered cave as His Shechina passed over him, and it was there that Eliahu Hanavi experienced a gilui Shechina greater than he even had before.
- Perhaps Hechsher for hashraas haShechina is not kedusha;
- or the Shechina is not mekadeish the rocks and dirt, it's mekadesh the Makom, (as Reb Chaim says in Beis Habechira 1:10, first and second paragraphs, דלא חיילא קדושת מקדש רק במחובר לארץ, ומשום דקדושת מקדש היא קדושת מקום, וכדכתיב: המקום אשר יבחר, שאינו רק בארץ ולא במטולטל.) Since it's a kedushas makom, there's a special din in hashra'as haShechina that it only has a din makom while the Shechina is actually shoreh, as opposed to the din makom of the Mikdash. Perhaps this is because there can not be a din of makom that confines the Shechina to any one place (אין העולם מקומו), and it is only the effect of the hashra'a on us that gives the place kedusha;
- or our chiyuv to build a mikdash gives the makom a din kedusha as opposed to Har Sinai where we have no chiyuv to do anything with that kedusha;
- or you can say like Reb Meir Simcha in Parshas Yisro (and many other places) that the only kedusha that lasts is the kedusha created by the efforts of human beings such as the akeidah;
It's easy enough to come up with speculative explanations, and I'm not fishing for any - feel free to use whatever explanation is helpful for your drasha requirements.
Despite the undeniable difference between the persistent kedusha of Har Chorev and the temporary kedusha of Har Sinai, obviously Sinai still has a tremendous maalah. For some reason, the Ribono shel Olam wants us to stay away from it and so its location has been long forgotten.