Rabbi Yitzchak said “Even that which the prophets will later prophesy, they all received it from Sinai. From where do we know this? As it is written (Deut. 29:14) ‘all who stand present with us today.’ This refers to he who already prophesied. ‘Present’ means one who is in the world now. ‘And those who are not with us today….’ refers to those who will prophesy, but have not yet. ‘With us today:’ it is not written ‘standing with us’ but ‘with us today,’ as this refers to the souls that have yet to be created.” (Midrash Tanchumah, Yitro, siman 11)

The momentous event that is Sinai is what binds Jews across time. Just as God is the creator of time, and therefore beyond time, the Torah stretches across generations, binding those who died long before our grandparents were born to those who will come generations from now, to bring us closer to the One that lies beyond time.

A life of Torah is a life not just of study, not just a life of cultural identification and solidarity with the Jewish people, although it is these things. It is a life of devotion to the One that constantly speaks the world into being. It is a life of constant reorientation from ourselves as the center of existence to the fountain and foundation of existence. It is the enterprise of constantly acknowledging and paying homage to the infinite while being finite beings.

Our understanding of Torah is inevitably limited. Our knowledge of the natural world is limited. So is our self-understanding. How much more limited must our knowledge of anything beyond this world be? How skewed and foggy our vision must be when we approach the Limitless God through our imperfect prayers! How many well-intended blunders must we commit as we try to do mitzvot to the best of our abilities and our understanding!

This Saturday night, we will move from Shabbat into Shavuot. We will go from the day that acknowledges the world coming into being to the day that acknowledges the revelation of the Torah. We say that Shabbat is a taste of the World to Come. Torah is meant to instruct us to bring awareness of that which is beyond this world into this world. Shabbat, as a day imbued with holiness, is a temporary departure from the mundane. That departure is accomplished through delighting in the mundane, especially through food and the company of others. If we can fully experience Shabbat in all its holiness, we may be that much more prepared to receive the holiness of Shavuot and the revelation of Torah.

Shabbat Shalom, and moadim lesimchah!

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