This world is filled with treasure hunters—people looking for riches in all of its forms –wealth, power, position and glory. They search high and low for clues and directional signposts to show them the way So much of mankind is on a seemingly never ending search for success and fortune, however, at best, their endeavors produce only transitory gains. This is in contrast to the enduring legacy of our nation which we acquired 3300 years ago when we merited to receive the durable, eternal wealth of our holy Jewish teachings (Torah).
At the giving of the Torah, we were not asked to be searchers seeking out subtle clues and vague directives. We did not have to explore the heavens and plumb the depths of the seas. We did not even have to climb to the top of the lowest mountain upon which it was given in order to receive it. It was brought down to us—by our leader and emissary, Moshe Rabbeinu. The question then as now was not how to find it, but rather how are we to comprehend, appreciate and incorporate its treasured value into our lives? There are maps and guideposts that are available to help us with this exploration. All it requires is for us to take a fresh look at some old familiar landscapes.
To start we might wish to consider the place of its presentation. The desert is a place that is separated from the busyness of the world—a place where the world’s standards and distractions do not impinge—a place where we lacked the ability to be self sustaining, but in fact had to rely upon the Creator’s (Hashem’s) kindness and protection. In this place, greatness is measured in humility rather than in power and wealth for ones’ very survival depended upon the willingness to humbly accept the direction of the Creator of the Universe. And thus we find our first prerequisite for “mining” the treasure that is our Torah—that is the ability to allow the Torah to guide us rather than us making determinations that impose our own limitations upon it.
Another key for accessing the Torah’s eternal wisdom and guidance is derived from the fact that it was given from above but was received below. This alludes to the fact that the Torah emanates from a place that is “above” natural law, but in order for us to benefit from the wealth of our Torah these teachings need to descend into all facets of our lives.
How does this happen? Ordinarily, it is difficult to evoke changes in habits and behavior, therefore perhaps the intense roaring thunder and streaking lightening bolts at Har Sinai may have been much more than just an introduction of the giving of the Torah but actually served to “jolt” the whole nation out of their old mind set in order to elicit the new spiritual revelation that was to follow. For us it can serve as a lesson reminding us that before valuable growth in the service of Hashem) can occur, there often comes a challenging “storm” – ie: a difficult situation or person that jolts us and in so doing actually helps us to realign with Torah directed sensibility and sensitivity.
This perhaps explains the fact that the entire nation experienced a transposition of the senses in which they heard what they saw and saw what they heard. We, who are the beneficiaries of the Sinai revelation, can continue to benefit from this vital experience, if when hearing of some else’s difficult problems – we see what we can do to help them. Likewise when we see someone struggling – if we allow ourselves to hear our inner voice guiding us as to how we can react most sensitively to their needs, we will hopefully bring closer the final redemption (geula), may it be soon in our days.