Sunday, May 31, 2009

819. Back from Sinai, part 1

I had an amazing Shavuot.

This holiday is always awesome for me, in the truest sense of the world—full of awe, especially at the moment right after dawn when we gather, exhausted and depleted, in the dark sanctuary to hear the ten utterances (each, incredibly, shorter than a Twitter post) that are blueprints for everything that followed and came before. And for the past few years I've chanted the part right after this, when Moshe calms the terrified people—al tira'u, don't be afraid—and is then gutsy enough to approach the cloud of mystery for more instructions.

I think those last sections touch me even more than the thunder, lightning, and commandments parts. Stay calm. Don't worry. Between Moses on Earth, and Me everywhere else, you're covered.

In past years I've anticipated these phrases long before we read them, getting antsy and starting to count down the hours in the middle of the night during study. So when the moment arrived, the buildup was too great—the words themselves became an anticlimax. I think I spent so much energy waiting that I had none left for the moment itself. But this year was different. The teaching burrowed through my sleep-deprived loopiness; I learned, deeply and consciously. I became infinitely more tired as the night wore on but also more energized, although I didn't have the strength to act on it. I can't quite describe this sense of feeling physically diminished but also overflowing with conviction about the of the rightness of my place at that moment. I knew that I stayed awake this Shavuot not just not to wait for something, but to absorb. We studied art about Sinai; the poet Bialik; mussar; and midrashim about water and dawn. As the sun rose, my brain and soul were full, like a big helium balloon about to fly somewhere new and exciting.

(Continued here.)

No comments: