D’var Torah: Rabbi Ron Fish (Yitro)

We have arrived.
We survived a midnight flight from Pharaoh and slavery.  Soon after the cries of Egypt began to fade into the distance. And we marched forward.

We faced sure death as their army pursued. Our group of ragged escaped slaves were trapped between chariots and lances or crashing waves and a sure end at the bottom of the sea.

Yet we charged ahead into the water. If we were not free from doubt, we were free of options. Now all that we could do was wade into the unknown.

Despite the panic and uncertainty we crossed the sea and were able to imagine, for the first time in centuries, what it could feel like to be on our own. Independent. With unbound creativity and hope. At the waters’ edge we sang and danced and rejoiced.

The next six weeks were met with some understandable cries of terror. There were also moments of childish complaints brought by a newly freed people, not yet ready to be on their own.

But we have finally arrived here at Sinai. We are as one people with one heart.* Ready to receive whatever God gives. Knowing that the future will be written in colors of anticipation and possibility when we are unified. Like we are today.

We have been through so much. The future seems bright for this singular people.

And yet, ‘one people with one heart’ isn’t easy to sustain. We know that in the past there have been differences. We have doubted ourselves, one another, even Moshe…even God. How will we return to this sense of the possible, becoming a single unified people, in the generations to come? We will surely face times of disagreement. Will all be lost if we do not succeed in becoming, and staying one?

In times to come, when future teachers of Israel disagree over the Torah/instruction we receive here at Sinai, it doesn’t have to lead to conflict or a loss of connection with God. If we recall what joins us together, this journey from slavery to freedom to whatever comes next, that sense of being on a shared quest is our path to survival. When we disagree we must recall that “these words and those can both be offered by the Living God.”**

Then, we will truly have arrived.


*Rashi describes the people of Israel as being “like one person with one heart” when they arrived at Sinai.

**The conflict between the houses of Hillel and Shammai 2,000 years ago was resolved when they both accepted that “these words and those are both the words of the living God.” Eruvin 13b

Rabbi Ron Fish, Temple Israel of Sharon, Schechter Parent

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