A Match Made in Heaven by Ruchi Koval
The weird thing about the Mt. Sinai story is that you totally wouldn’t see it coming.
I mean, there you are, reading the stories in the Bible, and there’s Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and oh, look, the twelve tribes! And here we have Pharaoh, and Moses, and Miriam. Yay, the ten plagues! And then? BOOM! Thunder and lightning! Utter silence! And all this preparation! And then?? G-D SPEAKS TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE, LIKE IN AN ACTUAL VOICE.
This isn’t foreshadowed anywhere so if I would, you know, be an English teacher, I’d be scratching my head.
Shavuot is the anniversary of this day. The receiving of the Torah at Sinai. And even though Passover is WAY more famous, the whole purpose of Passover, of leaving Egypt, was for Shavuot. We only left Egypt in order to receive the Torah.
Some people think the Torah is a list of rules. And if the Torah is a list of rules, then, yes, you didn’t see it coming. Because, G-d, why didn’t you tell us you were going to slam us with a pretty huge list of 613 rules?
But if the Torah is something else entirely, then it all makes perfect sense.
So what is the Torah?
Is the Torah a book? Yes. Does it contain history? Yes. Does it contain rules? Yes. Does it contain stories? Yes, yes, and yes. But to confine it to any one, or even all, of these is a mistake. Because the Torah is no more than, and no less than, a love story between G-d and the Jewish people.
Every story, every law, every detail, every person that is immortalized in that scroll, and all the books that followed it, and all the books of Mishna, and Talmud, and Kabbalah, and commentary, are all about that story. The laws are ways to connect with G-d in that love story. The people are role models of those who were deeply in love with G-d and were committed to continuing G-d’s mission on this planet. The villains? Examples and lessons of what not to do. The stories are motivation, inspiration, and lessons about how to build the relationships that we are meant to build to fulfill that mission – between ourselves and others, between ourselves and our souls, between ourselves and our G-d.
So was the story of Sinai – the very wedding between G-d and the Jewish people, as the Kabbalists describe it – foreshadowed? Well, of course it was. First G-d “dated” the Jewish people – with Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebecca; Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. G-d and us proved our love to one another in dark times in Egypt. When G-d said, “Will you marry me?” we responded at once, “Yes! Na’aseh v’nishma – we will do and we will hear” – we are committed to this relationship even before we know exactly what it involves. We’re in unconditionally.
How awe-inspiring, how exhilarating, to be a part of that people. How special, how lucky we are, to celebrate this wedding anniversary each year. Mazel tov! Congratulations! Happy Shavuot!
Ruchi Koval is a JWRP Trip Leader and a City Leader with the Jewish Family Experience (JFX) in Cleveland, Ohio.