Saturday, January 22, 2011

Yitro: Between Before and After

What is revelation? What does it mean to get ready for revelation, what leads to revelation, how does it changes everything afterwards, what of the Before and After, of the stories of Genesis and Exodus that lead to this moment, and the repercussions afterwards,

From the Liktuim Yekarim (sp?):

It is actually very surprising that a mortal human being should be able to attach himself to God. Besides his physical body, many Husks separate him from God. Even though, “the whole earth is filled with His glory”< God is still hidden behind many barriers. But all the barriers that separate and restrain can be torn down by the word that you utter. Your words should therefore be attached to God. This means that you must intimately feel that you are actually speaking to God. If we could speak just one line, or even two or three words, to God in each service, in the above mentioned manner, it would be sufficient.

What are the husks the Hebrews went through to get to that moment on Sinai, and what is it we go through to get to it? And let me just say here that for me anyway, it really doesn’t matter if it actually happened, or what any of us believe about that, because what we know happened are that stories got told about what got us here, and then there was the story of the moment, and then all the stories that stem from it. We’ve got Torah right here. This we know exists.

The Before is these two parallel stories, both a bout young men who are gifted but foolish, who get themselves in trouble and are pulled away from everything they knew or thought they knew, who have to re-invent themselves and in the re-inventing, find their true selves. And the first boy pulls his family into this re-invention and makes a family into a tribe. And the second boy pulls his tribe into the re-invention and turns the tribe into a people. And the people re-invent themselves and turn themselves from slaves into free people, from a people into a nation, from brutes into people of covenant with laws and ethics and spirituality. And all of this re-invention, it’s all to get them all there, at Sinai, at one place and one time, so that something huge can happen, so that everything and everyone can change, all at once, during this one incredibly special moment.

And this experience, it is so huge that it happens outside of time and maybe even out of space, I think when you hear some rabbi say that we were all at Sinai it’s because we were, because we’re there now, right now, at this moment.
And it was the biggest most important moment ever, and I know this because we tell this story every year, thousands of years later, even when it seems ridiculous or barbaric, yet we are compelled to work our way to the stories leading up to this moment, and then the stories that follow from it, from the words that were uttered on that day.

The Before stopped, the After hadn’t started yet, we were just there. Which is as complete a description of what Shabbat should be as I can come up with. So every Shabbat, we are in that moment of revelation of one-ness, of community, of connection, of right and wrong.

If we could speak just one line, or even two or three words, to God in each service, in the above mentioned manner, it would be sufficient.

Imagine if you could find that moment, those two or three words, at every service? And what is a service, what is a prayer, but the stories we tell ourselves, the Before of revelation, to get us to those two or three words of God, that will lead to completeness, no before and after, to shalom, wholeness, even if only for a moment.

And what would be revealed? Same thing at Sinai, on Shabbat, during a service, in a prayer….the Ten Commandments. Which for me boil down to this. Know this transcendence, recognize the moment. Respect your experience, don’t trivialize it, don’t try to make it small or material. Don’t forget this experience, give it to yourself once a week, call it Shabbat. Internalize the experience, live consistently within it, which means you treat your community and yourself with the same respect that you give to this moment.

If we could speak just one line, or even two or three words, to God in each service, it would be sufficient.

So what if, from now one, we start looking into each Shabbat, each service, each prayer, and look for the two or three words that might lead us to that moment. Maybe it’s this word. Maybe it’s this moment.

Maybe it’s this moment.

Baruch atah Adonai, Brucha At Yah, Blessed Ruach Ha Olam, God of my ancestors, God of my current understanding or lack thereof, God of my belief and disbelief,

I pray for those two or three words.
I pray for that moment.

It would be sufficient.


Shabbat Shalom.

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