“The Eternal One spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai” (Lev. 25:1)
וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּהַ֥ר סִינַ֖י לֵאמֹֽר
This week’s double portion Behar Behukotai ends the Book of Leviticus and in so doing sets us a challenge that all our Judaism – however different, however contemporary, irreverent or iconoclastic – relates to the moment of Sinai.
A beautiful midrash tells the unlikely story that Moses had a dream, a disassociated vision, where he imagined being thousands of years in the future sitting in a classroom of the yeshiva of Rabbi Akiva. Sitting in the back row while Akiva taught, Moses was utterly confused. His spirits fell as the arguments spun around in circles. He just couldn’t follow anything, from comments on the crowns of the letters of Torah, to the commentary that surrounded them. He was, the midrash suggests, forlorn and lost. One of the other students raised a hand and asked “Rabbi, where in the Torah did you learn this?” Akiva answered: Halachah l’Moshe MiSinai, “Oh this is the law given to Moses at Sinai.” Then Moses’ mind was set at ease. This was connected to him. M’nachot 29b
I love this story.
Because it basically reassures us that every new thing we do, every new expression and manifestation of Judaism, is connected to what has gone before. I think of this as we mark the next FPS Bar Mitzvah of Sam Fields, a most committed Bar Mitzvah student, who plays guitar in our shabbat service, accompanies me on social justice outings to represent us at the Barnet Citizens Assembly, who has waited on our seder tables for the past two Passovers and is generally a great kid in our synagogue, and I see that same line of connection flow through these past 70 years of FPS life to this moment and two weeks later to our next Bar Mitzvah in Zac Zalkin.
I’m compelled by continuity as well as courage in being different and inspired. As we finish the book of Leviticus and bless ourselves in the process, may these words be real for us.
Chazak Chazak V’NitChazek.
Strength, Strength, Let us be strengthened.
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