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Preview for May issue: D’var Torah on Shavuot
April 12th, 2012
God’s revelation to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai is the essence of the holiday Shavuot, which this year is May 27-28. However, we have a problem with this: How are we supposed to understand Revelation?
Unfortunately, movie director Cecil B. DeMille and actor Charleton Heston implanted a hollow picture of this into our brains. In the 1956 movie, “The Ten Commandments,” we hear the booming voices of both God and Moses/Heston.
It’s not the movie’s fault that so many of us settle for a movie version of the deepest mystery of all religion. Media cannot portray Revelation; this concept defies any possible description. Even the prophets could not fully describe their deepest innermost experiences.
Words alone cannot adequately contain the real depth of any experience. Words help. They are important. Words have great weight in Torah. Hashem used words to create the world.
However, we must search for the meaning beyond the words.
Think about a conversation with your friend. Of course, you listen to each other words. You also listen for voice tone; you watch gestures and body language.
The better you know the person, the more you pay attention to underlying issues that might alter her mood. In other words, a real conversation contains the sum of mutual interaction.
You can also have a conversation without words, when we sit quietly with someone and give ourselves space to reach full understanding. We can reach our deepest insights in the spaces between the words, in moments of quiet that are built from yearning for the other.
Thus we come to Divine Revelation. There are words, and there are the flashes of insight that defy words.
See the rest of this article in the May issue.