The ancient Israelites in the Torah reading cycle have just become a free people. Now what? This week's Parsha, Yitro, is filled with many insights. It starts off with Moses getting lessons in management by Yitro, his mentor and father-in-law. Yitro warns Moses that he cannot govern by himself and is instructed to delegate judicial and administrative responsibilities to others. He listens.
The people then gather at Sinai. They hear the vision that "they will become a nation of priests and a holy people." They listen. They are willing. "All that God has spoken we shall do." At Sinai, amidst the thunderous sounds of silence, the people listen again. In the "sounds of silence" they receive an awareness of Torah. Moses, their prophet and teacher, brings them the teachings that will guide them through the wilderness and us through the ages.
As we learn from our sages, every generation stands at Sinai. But does every generation listen? Yitro in midrashic, kabbalistic and Hassidic lore represents the inner teacher and the ability to listen to our inner selves. The very name Yitro means the other or the higher self. Yitro often speaks to us. But do we listen. Moses listened. But not all leaders, as we know, are comfortable with listening. We are a generation that is standing, once again, at Sinai. Amidst the tumult of our own times there are new leaders emerging. It is impressive and encouraging to see so many new leaders willing to guide us into a new future. We hope that they listen to the counsel of Yitro.
This month Am Kolel celebrates 13 years since we founded and opened Sanctuary, our own Mikdash in the wilderness of Montgomery County's Ag Reserve. Several thousand folks have enjoyed Sanctuary over the years. We plan to have a spirited outdoor celebration in the spring. You are welcome to come to Sanctuary this Shabbat, to listen to Yitro, the Aseret HaDibrot; reflect on the meaning of Sinai today and enjoy a special Kiddushlunch. Brachot, with blessings, Reb David