Shavuot 5776- Looking for God inside the mist
On Shavuot the obvious thing is to speak about the Ten Commandments, they are the peak of our Torah reading and there are those who claim the peak of the whole Torah and they were given on this very day of Shavuot. However, on this reading we receive an uncommon gift, of the kind that we immediate look for the receipt to exchange it for another thing or even worst, we pack it again and give it to someone else as a present. On this reading the Torah tells us where we can find G’d, not less than that! In Israel Shavuot used to be one of my favorite holidays. You would go to pray at a normal hour, then have a delicious diary meal with friends or family and then we would go out to study. In the newspaper all the places holding a Tikkun Leil Shavuot were listed, so you were able to really plan the night, going to listen different lectures in different places all night. Around 4am we would start walking towards the Kotel, the Western Wall, were the Masorti Movement holds a Shaharit service at 4:30am. The Sun would come up in the middle of the service and by the time we were finished, it was morning and we would go home. “So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick mist where God was”. I think that in my experience of Shavuot there was something like mist, blurry. Walking at night from place to place. Fighting the tiredness, listening to Torah lessons from teachers from all different backgrounds. Praying at the Kotel with dawn. It felt like mist, it felt mystical. “So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick mist where God was”. It looks like in life there are those who stand from a distance and those who go into the mist, into the fog. We too, sometimes we stand from a distance and sometimes we are ready to go into the mist. I think we usually prefer to live from afar. We stand from a distance because of our desires, because in order to desire something we first have to see it, and in order to see it we need to stand back and look at it. And if we want to judge, to see good and bad, then we really need to put some distance, we have to be disconnected from the object, detached. The paradox is that in order to judge something we need to be so far from it, to the point we cannot know it anymore. To his we call to be “objective”, the ability to see an object from a distance, in a clean manner. However, it looks that in a place of objectivity there is no God, as it were. But we know that there is no place without God, therefore there is no such a thing as objectivity. And still most of us will stand from a distance, as if wishing to look at life in an objective way. On the other side, inside the mist we cannot see with our physical eyes. Everything is blurry. In the mist everything is one. There is God. The misty, foggy, blurry situations are scary so we tend to keep our distance. In the mist there is doubt, is the place where I know that I don’t really know. To get close to the mist is to agree that we don’t know anything! Moshe goes into the mist and receives there the words of God. The poor people stands from a distance and receives from Moshe the words of man about the words of God that he heard. Everything that we see from a distance and that we hear from a distance is kind of an imitation, maybe even a little bit of a lie. It is not the thing itself, but it is what we have. In Shavuot we can re-experience the revelation of the Torah, but we have to dare to go into the mist, into the unknown, to understand that we know little and because of that we shouldn’t be judgmental. In the mystical experience of the mist, if we are worthy, if we dare, we can find a connection to God, we can feel truth and learn the real meaning of Torah. That meaning that I used to be able to feel a little bit during those Shavuot nights in Jerusalem, that meaning that is available to us if we let go, if we are brave and curious. Would you come after me into the mist?