Tuesday, May 18, 2010
We met at Sinai
On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet G-d, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the L-RD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and G-d answering him with thunder. When the L-RD came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up to him. Exodus 19:16-19
It was there, that I asked why and it was there that I first knew the answer. It was there that we sat, you and I, and the rest, some 600,000 of us in all, and while staring at a rumbling mountain, it was there, that i first saw your smile. It was there that we first heard that we shall remember the day Shabbat and keep it Holy, though, we somehow knew this before; and it was there that we learned of the prohibition against murder, stealing and jealousy.
It was there, that we knew that we could begin to love G-d and not fear him, as, who other than a loving G-d would give us his Holy Torah to cherish, keep and love for all time?
At Sinai, you and I sat. We listened and we rejoyced. We became fearful when Moses did not return for day after day, but we waited, some of us more patiently, for him to return with the Laws; and he did.
Then G-d delivered all these commandments: "I, the L-RD, am your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other G-ds besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
You shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the L-RD, your G-d, am a jealous G-d, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
"You shall not take the name of the L-RD, your G-d, in vain. For the L-RD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.
"Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the L-RD, your G-d. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the L-RD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the L-RD has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
"Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the L-RD, your G-d, is giving you.
"You shall not kill.
"You shall not commit adultery.
"You shall not steal.
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him." Exodus 20: 1-14
One by one these Commandments were read, out loud for us all to hear, but we had heard them before, had we not? We did know to honor our parents and to not murder, or steal, did we not? Were these Mitzvot not left in our hearts by G-d before we ever got to Sinai?
Did we not know decency and respect and truth even before receiving Torah?
Now that we have Torah, why have we stopped knowing? Why have we stopped caring? How do we start to care again? When do we look to ourselves for the answers to the questions that plague us all today? The answer, my friends is now.
It is now that we must begin again. To care and to know; to love and to respect; to believe and to have faith that the lessons planted so deeply within our hearts so very long ago, we placed there for a reason. Let us all treat each other with the love and caring with which we would enjoy being treated.
We met at Sinai, you and I. Amidst a thundering mountain, pillars of fire and smoke; and the sounds of Shofar calling us closer to our Creator. Yes. We met at Sinai, and I pray that one day we may all return in spirit to reclaim what G-d gave us that day.
From the Emek in the Midbar that we call Arizona, I wish for you Ahavah u'Vrachot, Love and Blessings for a Chag Sameach, a Happy and Enchanting Shavuot.
--Rabbi Alan Abrams
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