This week’s incredible parashah describes the seminal event when the Children of Israel can take a step close to the fire in order to move forward spiritually. The haftarah is a section from the Book of Isaiah where Isaiah is also presented with an overwhelming sight. He sees seraphim surrounding Gd Who is sitting on a throne. Isaiah feels impure and allows a seraph to “cleanse” his lips with a burning coal. After accepting the fiery coal Isaiah feels adequate enough to serve God.
The event at Mount Sinai was an unbelievable experience. It was beyond a sound and light show. A people who have been enslaved for their entire lives have recently been freed from slavery and now are witnessing a mountain encased in flames. There is thunder and lightning, and God’s voice resonates with such power that the people begin to shake. They are afraid and beg Moses to intercede. They ask Moses to listen to God and then relay His words to them. Moses encourages them to experience God’s presence themselves, knowing that the experience will change their lives forever. How does Moses know this? Because he went through the same experience of awe and fear at the burning bush and since then has continued communicating with God.
Moses’s experience with the burning bush took place on an isolated mountain. He heard the bush speaking. He was given orders and instructions. The Voice was compelling and knowing, so much so that the Voice (actually God) was able to convince Moses to take a risk-based on faith. The burning bush was an event that foreshadowed the burning mountain and God’s communication with the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai. Moses tried to convince the nation to witness God’s greatness themselves but they were too afraid.
Revisiting the haftarah, when Isaiah witnesses the spectacle of the seraphim around God’s throne and then accepts the hot coal from the seraph he shows he is willing to brave the unusual circumstances. He accepts prophesy and is therefore able to help the people around him. He improves himself and nurtures his ability to improve the world.
As we walk through life we have many challenges, some big and some small. We can only improve ourselves by accepting those challenges as we move forward. Sometimes we walk into the unknown and sometimes we venture into a place we know but where there is still uncharted territory. Our son Max is making aliyah in the coming week. He is taking that step into the semi-known and will learn, as he always does, from the challenges in front of him.
I hope we can all take challenges, learn from them, improve ourselves, and improve the world.
Shabbat Shalom, Laya
PS_ some of the artwork in my Blog will be included in the soon-yo-be published book, “ILLUMINATIONS.”
Abraham art art history bible Bible stories biblical art Bnei Yisrael Book of Isaiah dvar Torah Egypt Ezekiel God Haftarah Haftorah history Isaac Isaiah Israel Israelite Jacob Jeremiah Jerusalem Jewish Jewish Art Jewish education Jews joseph Judah Judaism Land of Israel Lord mishkan Moses Parasha Parashah parsha Pharaoh prophet Sefer Bamidbar Shabbat torah Torah story Torah study Yisrael Yom Kippur