Have you ever felt like someone was holding a mountain over your head wanting you to choose something? This was exactly how one midrash suggests the Israelites felt when the Torah was being presented to them.
This week, we read from Parashat Yitro which includes the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses who will later bring them down to the people. A midrash explaining the events of that day states that God took Sinai and held it above the Israelite people and said, ‘see now! You WILL accept the Torah or this will be where I will bury you!’
I don’t know about you, but I would absolutely say yes if God was holding a mountain over my head threatening to bury me, I would not argue with God. Thankfully, no one is holding a mountain over our heads as this portion is read. Yet, we still wonder, when have we felt like a mountain was being held over our heads and we had no choice in the matter?
We call those who convert to Judaism, Jews by Choice, however, I would argue that in many ways, we are all Jews by Choice. Each of us chooses to participate in or connect with Judaism or Jewish community. Each of us does it in our own way, in our own time and of our own will. No one can hold a mountain over our heads and tell us that this is the ONLY way to be or do Jewish – we’ve definitely figured that out.
As we enter into the second year of this pandemic, we’ve lived with a mountain over our heads. Covid is that mountain and the choices we make will either keep us alive or bury us. Mask or no mask? Vaccine or no vaccine? Mask after vaccine or not? Indoor dining or outdoor dining? Personal shopper or shopping personally? Just like the Israelites, the only way that mountain gets carefully placed back is knowing that the choices we each make impacts everyone. The mountain does not just fall on one person alone, but rather it can fall on all of us. We are impacted by the decisions of all of those around – just like the Israelites saying together, “WE will do and WE will understand.”
We all take this very seriously and we all work to understand how life continues to pivot as we learn more about Covid and how we can, together, get out from underneath the mountain. May God carefully put the mountain down and may we see in the months ahead a time when we can climb the mountain and enjoy the view from above.