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Are you there Moses? It’s Me, God

Friday, 24 February 2006

Last week was such an exciting week. Remember? We recalled what we would consider the watershed moment of our ancestors. It was in past week’s Torah portion that the Children of Israel came face-to-face with God. It was in that moment that our covenantal relationship was established and sealed for all time. It was our Sinai moment, and it was so powerful that the Israelites instructed Moses to carry on the conversation…without them. So moved were they that they could no longer bear to be in God’s Presence.

In this week’s portion, therefore, God draws Moses near to Him in order to convey the terms of the covenantal agreement…alone. Without us.

God said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teaching and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them.” (Exodus 24:12)

A very straightforward verse and yet there seems to be a redundancy in the first half when God says. “come up to Me…and be there.” Where else would Moses be but “there?” The Kotzker Rebbe, who had the same question, teaches that “come up to Me” speaks of Moses’ physical location while “be there” is God’s way of telling Moses to be mentally present as well.

How often do we find ourselves just going through the motions? We are certainly physically present but we are not always mentally engaged. We get home from a long day at work and go through the mail or messages while our children try to engage us in conversation. We are there in person, but definitely not in spirit. This week’s portion strives to be our mental check. “Make certain,” God says, “that you are fully involved in My sacred work. It is not enough to just show up!”

May we learn from this to connect on every level in order to achieve God’s imperative to His servant Moses.

Keyn y’hi ra-tzon – May this be God’s Will!

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