Yitro, one of the most famous of all portions of Torah, greets us this Shabbat. The sweeping drama of the Ten Commandments is the centerpiece. The portion begins with this insightful instruction to Moses by his father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro). In a classic first case of management 101, Jethro instructs Moses, who asked him for advice, to delegate his responsibilities (Chapter 18). Leadership can be a lonely and trying challenge and so Moses follows up and heeds Jethro’s advice.
As the moment for the Revelation neared, Moses summons the elders to make sure they understood God’s words. Again, it seems, these elders had the ear of Moses. The Revelation of the 10 Commandments follows. The drama and power of this moment is sealed in the liturgical, theological and spiritual DNA of Judaism. But what of us? Do we or are we open to “revelation”?
I recently asked a class about how the Sacred is revealed to them? These elders brought their collective life experience to bear on the question. There were no “a-ha” moments, no great “revelation” of God’s presence. Rather, the people who responded counseled me in the fact that for them, the awareness of God came slowly, often in an unexpected moment, as if there was a slow shift in their internal being, that they were embraced by a feeling that changed them. Some related personal stories of how they overcame grief, others spoke of moments when, in a time of personal challenge, the path to take emerged organically. There was a feeling of peace and “wholeness”, an awareness that they were part of something beyond their own self.
Perhaps it is that “still small voice” that we hear a lot about, that voice of our soul that emerges in moments of doubt or questioning or choice? What was interesting in this class was the openness to this idea that the sacred is revealed, that this sense of “divine revelation” is present, if we but open our souls to receive it.
Rabbi Richard F. Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.