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Dvar Torah - Yitro

This week's parsha tells the remarkable story of the revelation at Mt Sinai. The Jews stood at the foot of the mountain as it billowed smoke. The mountain was at once covered in fire and flowers and trees. The sounds of thunder and lightning filled the air, followed by the overwhelming noise of the shofar. And then G-d addressed the Children of Israel directly. Never before or since has such a momentous event occurred. This was the only time in history that G-d directly revealed himself to and addressed an entire nation.

The Haftorah which follows continues to capture the majesty of the Sinaitic experience. Yishaya tells us how he entered the Temple. Inside, he saw G-d sitting on a throne with the skirts of his robes filling the entire hall (of course, this is intended only as an allegory). To his right and left fly two angels with six wings (though only two are needed to fly), who extol Him and praise His divine glory. Immediately, there was an earthquake, and then Yishaya received his mission to approach the Jeiwsh people and rebuke them for their iniquities. The two stories share elements of wonder, majesty and awe. Both are intended to impress with their vivid descriptions of divine revelation. And both have penetrated the Jewish consciousness profoundly. The Sinaitic revelation is a foundational moment for our people. We continue to tell the story to this day. The ten commandments are a foundational text which we teach our children in primary school and to which they repeatedly return. From Yishaya's vision, the praise the angels give G-d becomes a central motif in Jewish prayer. Each morning, three times, we repeat the phrase "Holy! Holy! Holy! Hashem, Lord of Hosts, His glory fills the entire world!" This verse is central to all Jewish liturgy, theological and theosophical speculation, and sense of Divine imminence.

In our world, we no longer regularly have experiences similar to that of Yishaya and the Jews at Mt Sinai. However, we continue to remember and retell the old stories. May we all be blessed to use these stories' inspiration to build a more spiritually infused and inspired way of life.

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