In a few minutes I'll head off to the synagogue for the beginning of Tikkun leil Shavuot, a night of study to remind us how the Israelites prepared to receive the Torah at daybreak. Right now, at this very moment in New York City, the sky has turned black and a storm rages; lightning cracks, thunder grumbles, car alarms wail, and wave after wave of rain beats against the window. It's exactly as it should be. Tomorrow morning at 5AM, I will chant the section right after the Ten Commandments:
All the people saw the sounds, the flames, the blast of the ram's horn, and the mountain smoking. The people trembled when they saw it, keeping their distance... "Do not be afraid," replied Moses to the people. "God only came to raise you up."
On this evening of the giving of the Torah, may we find new meaning in all words, and never be afraid.