Haftarah and Torah Summaries for Yitro – Jan. 22, 2011

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 - p. 452 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.

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