On Mount Sinai

It seems like ages ago that we read about the Ten Commandments given on Mount Sinai. However, our people never left Mount Sinai through the rest of Exodus and Leviticus. Our portion begins on Mount Sinai with the laws of the sabbatical year. This demonstrates that these laws as well as all the laws of the Torah were given on Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai teaches us many things. One is humility: it is the smallest mountain amongst the peaks by it. Another is obscurity: we are not certain as to where Mount Sinai is today. The smallest and least pronounced mountain can become the source of the giving of the Torah.

Moses, a reluctant leader, had to be up on Mount Sinai, a small mountain, for 40 days and 40 nights. Upon descent he not only gave the core teaching of our tradition, the 10 commandments, but transmitted the entire Torah. This teaches us that no matter how small something is, it has great import. Never underestimate the potential of small items.

At times in our life we will be on Mount Sinai. We should never let those moments get to our head. At other times we will be in the lowly Hinnom Valley. We should never stay in an area of despondency like that. Rather we need to walk a middle road, as Maimonides asserts. The resting of the land, like our resting on the Sabbath, is in order for it to yield even more produce when work resumes. The same is true with our rest and reexamination of our lives on this Sabbath and those to come.

In our life, whether we feel lowly or exalted, we use Shabbat to come back to earth, recharge and reconnect with our loved ones. We recognize that even, or perhaps because, we have a day without pressure to do anything that we are able to embrace ourselves just as we are for now. Even if we feel lowly, perhaps we are destined for great things in the coming week. All we need to do is reach a little higher, to climb a little farther.

Let us feel this Shabbat that we are on Mount Sinai, hearing firsthand the laws and commandments from G-d’s messenger Moses. In so doing, may we feel gratitude for the opportunity to come together as a spiritual community, especially when we celebrate the upcoming holiday of Shavuot in just 2 short weeks’ time. Let us enjoy all that this beautiful weekend has to provide-perhaps going on a hike or a walk tomorrow or Monday and appreciating all that nature has to provide. May we feel like we are ascending not descending in the journey of life and that there are far greater heights for us to reach.

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