FAMILY LIFE CENTER
In Conjunction with
The Caring Community Committee
Look To See God's Presence
In Continuous Gift Of Torah
The second point we should remem-
ber is that the revelation at Sinai was not
just about hearing. The Torah records
several times an element of "seeing" at
Sinai and before. Our people "saw the
sounds" at Sinai (Exodus 20:15). God
says, "You yourselves saw that I spoke to
you (-Exodus 20:19) and previously, at
the Exodus we read that the people "saw
the mighty hand," a vision that led them
child once brought his
to awe and faith. (Exodus 14:31).
mother a picture he had just
Some of the commentaries under-
drawn and said proudly, "It's
stand seeing in these cases as referring to
a picture of God." His
"experiencing" or "understanding" or as
mother said, "But, honey, no one knows
describing an experience that over-
what God looks like." The child
whelmed the senses. But, it is also possi-
thought for a moment, looked at the
ble to understand these words
picture, and said, "Now they
literally. Our ancestors lived in a
time in which they more readily
It seems that hearing has
saw the presence of God.
always been more important
While we might say "seeing
than seeing in Jewish tradition.
is believing," our tradition
We avoid representations of
seems to say "hearing is believ-
God. We discuss and read
ing" or "hearing leads to believ-
Torah aloud. Our rituals are
ing." But that is only part of
usiially accompanied by spoken
the story. In addition to listen-
liturgy. We summarize our
ing for God's voice, we, like
faith with the words "Shema
our ancestors, must attempt to
Yisrael— Hear 0 Israel."
Special to the
see God's presence in the
Shavuot, ZMan Matan
Torateinu, the commemoration .
- Where can God's presence
of the giving of the Torah, is no
be seen? For some, it is the view of the
different. On this holiday devoid of
world from a mountaintop. For others,
visual symbols, we listen closely for the
it is the sight of our children playing in
echoes of God's voice at Sinai.
a grassy field. Perhaps it is in a great
According to tradition, we all stood at
work of art or in the effects acts of kind-
Sinai and all received the Torah. Shavuot
is a reminder of what God once said and ness can have on others. The sights of
God's presence are as different as the
what we once heard.
varied sounds of our tradition.
But we should be careful to remem-
God continues to give the Torah and
ber two aspects of the Sinai experience.
to give us reasons to believe.
First, God did not give the Torah
But I think that we concentrate far too
once; the Torah is given every day. The
much on talking and listening.
brachot for an aliyah to the Torah bless
Sometimes, we need to take a step
God who, ratan lanu, gave us the Torah
back, stand quietly and open our eyes.
and who, notayn haTorah, is the giver of
Perhaps then, we will find, like our
Torah. Each of us understands this idea
ancestors did, that seeing can lead to
in a different way, but the message is
faith and that, even without a child's
clear. We stood at -Sinai at one time in
picture, we really can sometimes see the
our history; but we receive the Torah
face of God in our world. II
every time we study, every time we con-
front its words, every time we fulfill one
of the mitzvot as our way of navigating
our way through the world.
For kids and all of us, what would
So, on this day in which we look
it have felt like to stand at Mt.
back to the moment of revelation at
Sinai? What have you seen lately
Sinai, we must also look at revelation as
that has encouraged thoughts
an ongoing process that inspires us,
about the presence of God? The
sanctifies us and challenges us.
world isn't always beautiful. How
do we fit that into our beliefs
Robert Dobrusin is rabbi ofBeth Israel
Congregation in Ann Arbor. His e-mail
address is dobrusin@bethisrael_aa.org
Shabbat and Shavuot,
day two: Deuteronomy
SENIOR ADULT PROGRAM
THE UAN JCES
& the Temple Treasures, Presents:
Thursday, June 12, 2003
1:30-3:00 pm at Temple Israel
Please join us for coffee, cookies and good
company. Come alone or bring a friend.
Open to the community free of charge.
No reservations necessary.
Please call Kari K. Provizer, ACSW
director of the Family Life Center if you have any questions.
Partly Funded by the David Arthur Stulberg Memorial Fund
and the Harry & Phyllis Kellman Memorial Fund
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