Rabbi Mordechai Rodal
Chabad of Norwood
Rav Yosef said: Man should always learn from the mind of his Creator; because the Holy One, blessed be He, ignored all the mountains and heights and caused His Shechinah to stay upon Mount Sinai.
(Talmud, Sotah 5a)
אמר רב יוסף לעולם ילמד אדם מדעת קונו שהרי הקדוש ברוך הוא הניח כל הרים וגבעות והשרה שכינתו על הר סיני.
Ask any child who attends a Jewish school why Mount Sinai was chosen as the site for the giving of the Torah, and the chances are quite high that he or she will tell you it was due to its humility. Each of the other mountains had various qualities to boast of, but poor little Har Sinai had none. So Hashem chose this unpretentious mountain to serve as the wedding venue in the hope that we, His bride, would forever appreciate the value of humility.
Which of course begs the question: If Hashem wanted to teach us about humility, why choose a mountain? Even the most humble of mountains towers above the surrounding landscape. Wouldn’t a valley have been far more suitable?
Herein lies the great paradox of living as a Jew. Whilst maintaining a humble demeanour, we simultaneously display a pride in our identity and heritage. We stand firm and proud with unswerving faith no matter what or whom we are confronted with.
It is precisely this attitude that gives us the necessary perspective to weather the present challenging times. While we are humble enough to acknowledge that our destiny is in Hashem’s hands and we don’t understand (or appreciate) His ways, we staunchly proclaim our belief and trust that He is not only carrying us through this, but that we will come out of this experience even stronger and better.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk (1787-1859) put it aptly when he once asked a chassid where G-d could be found. The chassid immediately replied, “Everywhere, of course!”, whereupon the Kotsker Rebbe retorted, “G-d is found where he is allowed in. Should that space be too full of yourself, there will be no room for G-d.”
Next time coronavirus causes you to feel anxious, depressed or worried, think of Mount Sinai. Stand tall and strong while allowing Hashem to run the show.