By Rabbi David
Think back on the most awesome, sense-scrambling experiences in your life – the times that changed everything.
If someone told you in advance what they’d be like – how they’d feel, what they’d mean, how you’d remember them for the rest of your life – would the telling mean much to you? Could the advance telling, even in perfect detail, ever prepare you for life’s moments that most make you who you are?
Life keeps teaching us that life is to be lived fully, messy, scrappy, beautifully, awesomely, heartbreakingly, soul stretchingly – all in, highs and lows, oys and joys. Telling can convey part of our story (we Jews have a proud story to tell), but our real story is living, not telling.
These weeks on covid lockdown, which happen to coincide with our seven-week Omer count between Passover and Shavuot, are incubating us for what’s next. However much we may ache to “return to normal,” the “normal” we knew is history: there’s no going back. There’s only going forward, and there’s no shame in confessing that as a society, we don’t yet fully know where forward will lead.
I imagine our desert-wandering spiritual ancestors would empathize. They had known only one way of life – bitter, but predictable. Could anyone have told them what Sinai would be like? What ample words could explain how they’d feel to have their senses scrambled – to feel Infinity flow in a super-human jumble of love, word and law that would forever change humanity? And if somehow some exactly right words of explanation had existed, how could anyone understand them much less believe them?
There’s no such thing as ready for Sinai. We can count our Omer days. We can examine our souls. We can clear out clogged pathways to receive revelation anew. We can look forward with anticipation and resolve to build a better world. But whatever we say, the experience is nothing like any words or ideas we ever can claim.
It’s not that we’re inadequate. It’s that the lovingly joyful call to receive revelation’s ways to remake the world anew, is like a giant spiritual re-set button. If our own moments in life teach us that there’s no such thing as really ready, then how about for the Infinite?
There is no such thing as ready. Ready isn’t the point.
We weren’t ready to see our world so radically shift on covid’s axis, and maybe we’re not yet fully ready to re-make our world in the image of what’s next. Neither were our spiritual ancestors. Ready isn’t the point.
Rather, the point is to show up, knowing that every preparation is just prelude. We’ll show up fully, messy, scrappy, beautifully, awesomely, heartbreakingly, soul stretchingly – all in, highs and lows, oys and joys, together. That’s the calling of these weeks, the weeks we loosely call getting ready for Sinai, knowing that the best preparation is to get beyond the need to be ready.
The Voice will come again from Sinai. Don’t worry about being ready: just open and listen.
Past corona-themed spiritual messages from Rabbi David:
Week 2: The spirituality of melting down
Week 3: The liberation journey when so little feels like freedom
Week 4: How can we celebrate? How can’t we?
Week 5: Countdown to what’s next
Week 6: On spiritual resilience
Week 7: On Israel: Identity, Pride and “Exile”
Week 8: Enduring Spirit