Torah Summary – Yitro – p. 432 – Jan. 22, 2011
One perspective on what we learn in is what is central to
establishing any civilization — how do we set up a judicial system that
will decide cases efficiently and justly? — what are our laws? — and how
do we establish personal and communal boundaries in our lives.
The main events in our Torah reading is the giving of the Ten
Commandments (aseret ha’dibrot) and the formal establishing of the
sacred relationship between God and Israel (habrit).
During the sixth aliyah, we will all rise and poetically imagine
what it means to stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai. — And consider — what
is the meaning of revelation – in both ancient and modern times? Is it
the sudden comprehension of an epiphany? Is it the immanent, personal
experience of the Presence of God? Or is it something else entirely?
Haftarah Summary – Yitro – Jan. 22, 2011 – Isaiah 6:1-7:6 & 9:5-6 –
This morning we not only stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai, we get to
be like angelic beings – seraphim — not once, not twice, but three times
— twice when we recite the Kedushah of the Shacharit and Musaf
Amidah – and which we can all recite together “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh,
Adonai tzivaot, me’lo chol ha’aretz, kevodo.” And we experience it once
more as we listen to angelic Cindy chant the source of this verse in
today’s Haftarah. Unlike the cherubic angels depicted in Renaissance
art, as seraphim, when we do the Kedushah, we stand on our toes, let our
spirits fly, and sing words of praise.
Our Haftarah makes clear that then, as now, people tend to focus
on physical existence, often live in fear of violent death from a real or
imagined external enemies, and give up on trying to change those
aspects of our life that we can affect. But in our Haftarah, Isaiah brings
hope of a better existence, when we will be led to desire and to
experience a way of living with and in peace. On one level, our
Tradition identifies this era of peace as the kingship of King Hezekiah.
Another interpretation, envisions an overwhelming and eternal peace
that will transcend the realities in which we live – just as the seraphim
transcend the abilities with which we live.