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02/11/2021 08:10:28 AM


Imagine for a moment that the Torah indeed is born of the Divine.  That Moses does dwell with God at the top of Mt Sinai, receives the Divine instruction, and then writes it into a text.  And imagine the Creator, infinite, immeasurable, and unknowable, desiring to share the wisdom of eternity with these beings born of love, who are necessarily finite.  It is not difficult to understand the Rabbis’ imagination that God attempts to bestow the Torah upon many other peoples, who reject it, for apparently it was too cumbersome.  And that in this rabbinic vision, the only reason the Israelites accept Torah at Sinai, is because God is literally holding Mt Sinai over their heads, asking, “Do you accept the Torah?”  They of course most willingly oblige.  But what is it that is so difficult about accepting Torah? Is it the laws, rules and regulations that make life so much more difficult and challenging to exist, as we have for the vast majority of our history, as a unique and distinct minority, that even in our most liberal manifestations, causes us to stand out?  Or, is it perhaps the Torah’s regular reminder that what matters most is “the now” of this and every moment?  Is it the powerful demand for humility that stands witness against human beings’ vain attempts at immortality?  Is it the Torah’s subtle recognition that our lives are like a passing shadow? 

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, a Tzaddik Gamur, a completely righteous human being, the Talmud teaches, is out seeking the Messiah, the Moshiach ben David.  He goes to Elijah the Prophet, begging him for direction. Elijah points Rabbi Joshua to the city gates, where, he tells him that the Messiah sits, cleaning the wounds and redressing the bandages of the lepers.  One bandage at a time, so that if the moment arrives when the Messiah is called, the Messiah can at once appear.  Rabbi Joshua rushes to the city gates, finds the Messiah, and asks, “When will you come?”  The Moshiach ben David replies, “Hayom” (“Today”) but as he continues, Rabbi Joshua is off to tell the world.  He and his disciples await but the Messiah doesn’t come, so Rabbi Joshua returns to the city gates.  “You did not come,” Rabbi Joshua says to the Messiah.  In return, the Messiah kindly shares, “you did not listen.”  I said, “Today,” but had you stayed and listened well, you would have heard me say, “if you but hearken to God’s words.  To bring healing and wholeness, to act with kindness and embrace joy, to share and mend and repair embrace, forgive and express compassion for all God’s creations, then, “Hayom.” 

Hayom – Today is all we have, really.  Surely we can process and perhaps better understand the past, and indeed we can plan and envision the future, but Hayom is ALL that is really in our grasp.  We can shape and mold and make Hayom into what we wish it to be.  What is the one thing today that you can do to make Hayom matter?

Sat, June 19 2021 9 Tammuz 5781