What happened at Mt. Sinai? Who was there? How does it affect us here today? I find the contrast between the Shavuot Torah reading (Exodus 19 and 20) and Haftarah (Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12) revealing. The Torah reading focuses on the Ten Commandments—a short, straightforward list of things to do or not do—while the Haftarah is Ezekiel’s vision of indescribable heavenly creatures. While visions inspire us, we also need guidance about how to live the rest of time. Or, while intense moments are wonderful, we also need a way to connect during ordinary, everyday moments. Do the Ten Commandments provide that for you?
What about the 613 commandments that may have been given at Sinai? Where does that number come from? One nice Midrash explains that it is the sum of the number of days in a year plus the number of bones in a human body; in other words, you should obey the mitzvot / connect to God completely all the time. As to who was there, I like the idea that all Jews of all times—that means me now—were standing at Sinai. In fact, I believe that the Sinai experience is the moment when we become a Jewish people. I want to explain this further on Wednesday. I hope you can make it.