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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

02/09/2023 05:00:00 PM


Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut

This week, as we read Parshat Yitro, we are standing at Sinai as the mountain is trembling with thunder and engulfed in smoke. It is an awesome, fearful sight.

There are many midrash about this important moment in our history yet I found myself drawn to a drash by Akeidat Yitchak, a 15th Century commentary on Torah by the Spanish rabbi Isaac ben Moses Arama. In his commentary, when God created earth, God resided there at first but was in despair that humanity behaved in such an evil way. God slowly withdrew farther and farther from earth as each new generation behaved abominably to one another and brought evil to the world. When God couldn’t be any farther from earth, Abraham arose and God took notice. As a result of Abraham’s goodness, God began moving back toward earth. Over the generations to follow, the good deeds of Isaac and Jacob and many others brought God slowly but steadily back, to greet Moses and humanity in smoke and thunder at Mt. Sinai.

One might have thought that God’s return to earth was to remind the Israelites of God’s imminent presence and reestablish our relationship and strengthen our belief. But what God actually did was to give the people an important lesson that how we interact with one another is of the greatest importance for creating a just society. The connection between God and humanity is important but we only truly can access that relationship by the way we treat one another.

What we do matters! Maybe it is hard to believe that actions will bring God’s ‘physical’ presence closer or farther from earth, but it can surely make a difference in creating good will and harmony. 

May our actions be ones that bring the essence of the divine into our realm and help us draw closer to one another in peace and love!

Mon, March 20 2023 27 Adar 5783