Yitro – Ex. 18:1-20:23 (Feb 14/15)​

As the Torah Turns

Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah

Yitro – Ex. 18:1-20:23 (Feb 14/15)

Our Torah portion this week is Yitro – Ex. 18:1-20:23, and includes our amazing experience standing at Sinai.  “On the third day, as morning dawned, there was thunder, and lightning, and a dense cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the shofar; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp, and they took their places at the foot of the mountain… God spoke all these words saying, I am the Eternal your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…” (Ex. 19:16-17, 20:1-2) In Midrash Rabbah on the book of Exodus, Rabbi Abbahu said in the name of Rabbi Johanan: “When the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah, no bird called out, no fowl flew, an ox did not roar, the angels did not fly, the seraphim did not call out, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy!’, the sea was motionless, the creatures did not speak. Rather, the world was quiet and silent. And a voice emerged: “I am the Eternal your God…”

 Our Torah text sets the stage with a light and sound show on full volume… and then there is silence… an unusual silence that enveloped the world at the time of revelation.  Only in silence, could God’s voice be heard; hearing the Ultimate depends on careful listening and concentration.  As Doug Cotler wrote in his song, “Listen” – “… When the wind and the thunder finally disappear, there’s still a Voice that you will hear if you listen… listen… to our God…” This seminal incident testifies to the power of silence, focus, and deep listening in human communication as well.  Making room to stop and silence one’s own thoughts to really listen to another, can create the important space for a thoughtful and respectful relationship.

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