Chaverim Yekarim,

There’s a Jewish dating service cleverly named SawYouAtSinai, playing on the traditional idea that all Jewish souls, past and present (all 600,000 types) stood at Sinai for God’s revelation thousands of years ago. There’s something really comforting and accessible about this idea if we choose to accept it.

Similar to this idea at Sinai, another traditional bit of Jewish wisdom teaches that all Torah (Bible, Talmud, Midrash, etc) was given together at the same time the 10 Commandments flowed down. Some maximalists even teach that every bit of teaching in every generation was already revealed at Sinai. According to this line of thinking, perhaps this very email was written then!

Rabbi Shalom Berezovsky (z”l) teaches that something fundamental preceded even the giving of the Torah and her commandments. He interprets Exodus 19:5 (V’ata im shamoa tishmi’u b’koli / And now, if you listen to my voice) as making space for God outside the confines of traditional mitzvot-based Jewish law. After all, the text could have said ”if you listen to my commandments,” but instead says my voice.

This teaching confirms what many of us suspect to be true in our own lives: God ”speaks” to each of us in a divinely-tailored individual way, in a voice perhaps only we can understand.

In this world where we seem to prize possessions over people, and worship objects over ideas, where can we hear God’s voice as our ancestors did? If only we leave space in our lives for God’s voice to penetrate, then perhaps it will.

Wishing you a Shabbat of great expanse and divine love,

Rabbi Natan