We ended at about 5AM with the study of a beautiful midrash. All people, and every single thing in the world, wrote 19th century hasidic Rabbi Zadok HaKohen of Lublin, are letters in a book that God has written. The Torah is God's commentary on those letters. And (according to many other interpretations) its meaning changes from year to year, because we change. The words--us--and the commentary--the Torah--are always in partnership, dancing and wrestling with one another. All night long I remembered my own moment of revelation and gratitude, and wondered what this year's Torah would bring. And prayed that I would understand its message.
At 5:30 we moved upstairs to the sanctuary for services. We went outside for a few minutes; the sun had just risen, and it was hard to imagine that there had been night at all. Consider, said the rabbi, how the Israelites must have felt just as they were about to receive the Torah. Maybe it was a little like we did right now, brains overflowing, numb and shaking from exhaustion. Only about 20 of us remained, and we moved close together and began to sing with the kind of raw energy that's left after all other strength is gone.