by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Tomorrow night we begin the festival of Shavuot when we celebrate and commemorate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The Sinai experience was the defining moment of Jewish history when we committed ourselves to G-d and His commandments, becoming His nation forever.
In describing this dramatic event the Torah tells us that there was fire, smoke, a loud Shofar sound and fierce thunder and lightning. The entire mountain shook and the people trembled as G-d descended with His heavenly entourage and proclaimed the Ten Commandments.
One would imagine that with this incredibly dramatic backdrop, the Ten Commandments would be the most profound, spiritual and original pronouncements. That is not the case. The commandments ask us to commit to monotheism and to observe the Shabbat. The rest of them are logical moral instructions such as honoring parents and refraining from murder, theft, dishonesty, adultery and jealousy. Isn't it a bit of an anti-climax?
But this is the beauty of the Sinai experience. To be holy and spiritual human beings does not mean that we need to engage in metaphysical or complicated mystical experiences. It does mean that we have to instill morality and spirituality into our normal daily living with small simple deeds and basic values.
Shavuot teaches us that a delicious Shabbat meal with Kiddush and candles, visiting elderly parents and being honest with others also deserve the dramatic and spectacular Divine revelation of Mt Sinai.