There are some places that become etched into our memories.
I am sure we can all remember the place where we were proposed to or exactly where we heard the news that we were expecting our first child. It is therefore startling that we have somehow forgotten the location where the most significant Jewish event took place – the giving of the Torah? Why didn’t the Jewish sages preserve the whereabouts of Mount Sinai?
There is only one time in the Tanach that we read about someone returning to Mount Sinai following the Jewish entry into the Promised Land.
The Book of Kings relates how hundreds of years following the revelation at Sinai, the Prophet Elijah took refuge inside a cave on “the mountain of G-d, Horeb” (Kings I, 19) while fleeing the wicked Queen Jezebel. The following day the word of G-d came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah then opened up about his plight and the sorry state of the Jewish people. G-d asked him to step outside and stand on top of the mountain. He had a vision:
“Behold! G-d passed, and a great and strong wind splitting mountains and shattering boulders before G-d—but G-d was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake—but G-d was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, fire—but G-d was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small sound. And as Elijah heard, he wrapped his face in his mantle, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave, and behold a voice came to him and [again] said:
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” G-d then told Elijah to return to his people.
What do we see from this episode?
Mount Sinai was indeed a place of great drama and vision, yet the holiness that descended upon it didn’t remain. Elijah was sent home. Because G-d’s holiness isn’t in the great noises and rumbling earthquakes of life. Rather, He is to be found in the small stuff of our humble, day-to-day actions. We don’t have to be at Sinai to experience G-d, rather we can have holy moments in any place at any time. Indeed this is our challenge: To turn every place we encounter into a Mount Sinai!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and looking forward to greeting you in Shul over Shabbat!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman