There is a widespread problem that plagues humanity, leaving us lonely and disconnected. Many people live their lives in a state of ego – a state of mind in which one views himself as an isolated being inside his own body, his own mind, his own world, alone and independent. The consequences of this state of mind are obvious: Since everyone else in the world is separate from us, we will feel disconnected from them; we will also likely feel the need to compete with them – to beat them – in order to gain self-worth, in order to convince ourselves that we’re good enough. This often means pushing others down just to feel like we’re better than them. We might even hate certain people or even go so far as to hurt them, because they don’t make us feel good or perhaps because they challenge our own self-worth. But most of all, this state of consciousness leaves us lonely, abandoned, and empty. However, there is another option.

Would anyone describe Kabalas HaTorah as “groovy”?

Long before the 1960s, the Torah used the phrase “seeing sounds” (ro’im es ha’kolos) to describe the Jewish people’s experience at Har Sinai (Sh’mos 20:16). Far out!


How about an encore? 

The end of Parshas Mishpatim has more of the razzle-dazzle Matan Torah experience that we read about last week. Parshas Yisro contains the Ten Commandments and their accompanying sound-and-light-show that literally shook the world (Sh’mos 20:15). The end of this week’s parshah continues that story and describes the eagerness of B’nei Yisrael to accept the Torah, and their famous exclamation of Naaseh v’nishma (24:7). Our sidrah concludes with the Jewish people gaining a peripheral view of Hashem Himself (vv. 10-11), Moshe’s ascent up the mountain, and his disappearance into the clouds (v. 18).

One night, four students stayed out late, completely disregarding the test they had the next day. Before school the next the morning, they hatched a brilliant plan to avoid taking the test. They covered themselves with grease and dirt and went to the principal’s office. They told him all about how their car had gotten a flat tire the previous night on their way home from a wedding, and how they had to spend the whole night pushing it home.

The screen flipped on, and the film began. It was a documentary of an exceptional human being who had achieved his ultimate perfection. He faced enormous challenges in his youth, but they made him stronger and pushed him to live a life of idealism, centered on learning and spreading Torah wisdom. He built an idealistic community designed to help everyone achieve his unique mission in this world. He married a true tzadekes, raised a beautiful family, and devoted his entire life to connecting with Hashem and contributing to the lives of others. He wrote books, finished projects, built up organizations, and changed the world.

How can surrender lead to victory?

During the war against Amaleik, B’nei Yisrael prevailed only as long as Moshe’s hands remained raised; when his hands fell, the Jews began to falter (Sh’mos 17:11). How strange that winning and success were associated with “hands up,” the universal signal of surrender and defeat!