Rabbi Yehoshua Weber

Sponsored by the Wellman family לז”נ and in loving memory of Adin Wellman עדין יהודה ע”ה בן שמואל חיים יבלחט”א.    

In memory of Dr. Yehudi Shields,יהודה פסח בן חיים נתן ז”ל, a well respected doctor, mohel, baal kriah & baal tekiah who dedicated himself to his wife, his family & his community.   

“Hashem will descend onto Mount Sinai…..so guard yourself about ascending the mountain and about touching the edge of the mountain.”[1]

There was danger in ascending that fiery, holiness-encased mountain.. Because of that, we were warned to “guard” ourselves by not “ascending” the mountain.

That imperative about “ascending” is still so relevant now.

It’s just that today, it’s a different sort of imperative.

The imperative, today, is not about guarding oneself from ascending a fiery, holiness-encased Sinai. Such an ascent is no longer dangerous because we no longer live in the shadow of a fiery Sinai.

The imperative, today, is, rather, about pushing oneself to, once again, “ascend” Sinai and to recreate the inspiration that we once experienced there.

And there are so many reasons as to why we must now “reascend” and recreate that inspiration.

Firstly, we live far removed from the inspiration of Kabbolas HaTorah, that the inspiration is hidden from us. “Reascending” can reawaken that inspiration. Secondly, we’ve been performing mitzvos for so long that we’ve become habituated to those mitzvos. Those habituation can make those mitzvos stale. “Reascending” can bring those mitzvos to life.  And we’ve been maintaining relationships with Hashem – and with people around us – for so long, that we may bee giving those relationships short shrift. “Reascending” can prompt us to give those relationships the attention that they deserve.

Yes, we must try to “ascend” Sinai and to recreate its passion.

All of this may be read – homiletically – into that possuk about “guarding yourself about ascending the mountain. ”

That possuk can be read to mean “guard yourself and continue to ascend.” That ascent will, hopefully, counter our mitzva-emasculating habituation.

This also explains the latter part of the possuk about “touching the … mountain.”[2] Touching Sinai symbolize “touching” – but not being deeply involved in – our yiddishkeit. It can mean living with out-of-habit davenings, lackluster mitzvos and insipid relationships.

Yes, we need to make that ascent.

And no, its not easy to do that.

We’ve been mumbling davening for so long that we can’t envision something better. And we’re so accustomed to cruise-control relationships that we don’t envision new sparkle.

But it can be done.

Not by envisioning always transcendental davenings. Nor by expecting ever-uplifting relationships. Those dreams may be unachievable.

But by implementing incremental ascents.

And by bettering small blocs of time and of space.

By committing to not saying one word during the Shabbos Shacharis chazaras ha-shatz.

And by pledging to not say one bad word at the Shabbos day meal.

And by making any one of a million other manageable commitments.

Yes, we must start ascending the mountain.

Once we start ascending, we may notice the exceptional realities that await us on that mountain’s summit.

Soul-searing davenings.

Joy-filled mitzvos.

Truly loving relationships.

Seeing those realities may motivate us to climb to that mountain’s summit.

Yes, we can reach that summit.

First, though, we must begin the ascent.

[1] Shemos, 19:12

[2] Repeated in the name of the Kotzker Rebbe.

Rabbi Weber is founder of Ohr Tzvi Montebello-Monsey. Please visit his website, ohrtzvi.org, to sign up for his weekly email message or for information on his live or zoom shiurim. Rabbi Weber will be scholar in residence at the Hudson Valley Resort for Shavuos. For information, please email or call (845) 794-6000