IF ONLY G-D WOULD STOP BY AND INTRODUCE HIMSELF
“If only I would experience a revelation of the Divine then I would’ve bought into Judaism hook, line and sinker. Now that I never had an audience with the Almighty, do you expect me to be committed to the whole deal…”
Have you expressed this thought before? Have you offered your ears for someone else’s — lack-of-Sinai-style-revelation — excuse for standing on the side-lines of wholehearted investment into their heritage?
I know that I have. I’ve said it. I’ve heard it. I hear it all the time.
So let’s play out the scenario:
You are called to a lovely mountain in the middle of a desert. As millions of your family and friends stand around this mountain, you all experience a mass revelation of the Divine. G-d Himself comes to talk to you and even offers a bio on Himself. “I am the L-rd your G-d who has delivered you from Egypt!” No room for confusion. It’s ‘that’ G-d. Heaven is 100% real.
That should settle all matters of atheism, idolatry and ethics for a long long time, don’t you think?
Um… problem, people.
You all know the story: 40 days later and the Jews are dancing around a calf made of gold, declaring “This is your god, oh Israel!”
Huh? What happened to the fool-proof method? Doesn’t divine revelation mute all options of mutiny against G-d? Idolatry just six weeks after Sinai? Slap in the face to the revelation excuse!
Or how about the fact that throughout the First Temple era there was rampant idolatry in Israel? The Second Temple period didn’t fare better, with widespread secularism and Hellenization across the Jewish community. This is the TEMPLE ERA with mad miracles occurring all the time in front of the eyes of the Jewish community!
Revelation isn’t that electrifying after all. Inspiration has a short shelf life and expires very quickly indeed.
YOU HAVE TO EARN AND WORK ON YOURSELF TO BE READY AND DESERVING OF REVELATION!
Unearned revelation backfires. If you don’t make yourself worthy and ready for an experience then it can destroy more than build.
Think of the terrible legacy of lottery winners versus earned money. Earned money usually keeps the person humble, sincere and cautious. Winners usually splurge, lose their minds and end up broke. Same with inherited money; it rarely lasts. You got to earn your stripes.
Where are we going with this?
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of revelation. There is electricity in the air. Even the most uninspired Jew finds him or herself a tiny bit moved over this time period.
Alas, it rarely lasts for more than the three day period. How could it? It has not been worked for and earned!
This is where the month of Elul (beginning this Shabbos) enters the discussion. Elul is a ‘normal’ month. No Yom Tov, no major holidays, no mass revelation. And yet it offers the greatest opportunity: to start working towards the revelation. To prepare ourselves. To dig a cup in our heart which will allow the energetic flow of the High Holidays to be contained in us rather than spill right off our back.
Elul is our opportunity to get into the zone. To activate the process on our side of the relationship, so that when Hashem activates His side we will be receptacles for His blessings and love.
To summarise it all that into one sentence:
Ani Ledodi — I am for my beloved. And only after that: VeDodi Li — and my beloved is to me!
Chodesh Tov! Shana Tova!
#Elul #RoshHashanah #AniLedodi