10 Feb Yitro: All Alone
How do I know that this is really God talking to me? Will the people even listen to what I have to say to them? I didn’t even ask for this job! I feel so alone up here on the mountain all by myself!
Is this what Moses was thinking while standing at the top of Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah from God as we read in the Torah portion this last Shabbat?
It’s sometime hard to remember that at the top of Sinai is just a guy, a man estranged from the home in which he grew up, a leader whose people will often despise him and direct towards him their anger at God.
We can imagine the entire scene, the clouds, smoke and fire, the thunder and heavenly shofar blasts, the people afar, the elders at the foot of the mountain, Aaron, Moses’ brother half way up:
And even more than that, when we think of the Torah, both narrative and law, we picture Moses with rays of light emanating from his head, Aaron in his priestly garments, King David with his harp and his son, soon to be king, Solomon. We might even think of a synagogue or study house and all the “Torah” that has been produced in the generations since the Bible. The cover page of Ashalei Revivei, a book on the dietary laws by 16th century scholar Rabbi Joseph Karo, including comments by Rabbi Moshe Isserles, published by Shlomo Propps of Amsterdam in 1711 includes all the above:
But there is a small detail, at the top of the title page that, for me, speaks toward those thoughts of the leader, teacher and prophet Moses, up there all alone atop Mt. Sinai:
Above Moses holding the two tablets are the two letters “bet” and “hey”. This can be an abbreviation for “B’ezrat Hashem” – with God’s help, or God willing, or it can signify the words “Baruch Hashem” – thank God.
There is a moment in each of our lives, in which we seem to be experiencing the truth and in which we feel like we can clearly see our path. For some of us, we’re just not sure and wish there was someone nearby to talk to about it. So we might say, “God willing it will be OK”. For others, we’re quite happy to contemplate that which is before us on our own with no distractions and simply “Thank God” for the opportunity.
As with most things, it’s not one or the other, it’s both.
Have a good week.