Questions of Revelation: A Poem

image of mount sinai at sunset with the words: Questions of Revelation: A Poem

Receiving Torah at Mount Sinai was a very powerful, pivotal moment in our tradition.

Like other powerful, pivotal moments in history, we have multiple different records of what actually occurred. In Exodus 19, we learn that Moses went up the mountain, God gave Moses a message to relay to the elders, and then God spoke to the people of Israel directly.

There were thunderclaps, lightning, and smoke. Our Rabbis have expanded upon this bare-bones narrative and imagined the scene in a lot more detail. The most famous of all of these images as described in our tradition are woven together here.

“Questions of Revelation”

What happened on Mt. Sinai
the day the thunder was visible
and lightning split
into 70 tongues
whispering in our ears
so we could all understand
the gift being given?
Did the mountain really
flip upside down
and hang over our heads?
Was that really the soul
of the great great grandchild
I’ll only meet in dreams
standing
next to
my own favorite teacher?
What happened at Sinai
when the power
of a single aleph
was more than we could bear
when still
we longed for more
and crept close again?
Did I actually
join the ecstatic crowd
proudly proclaiming
I would do all I was asked
expecting
understanding will eventually arrive?
Whatever happened at Sinai,
I’d do it all again.

Author

  • Rabbi Suzanne Brody is the Director of Education and Youth Programming at Temple Beth-El in Ithaca, NY. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, has a PhD in neuroscience, and received rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, CA in 2012. In addition to her more scholarly work and her participation in on the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards, Suzanne is the author of five books of poetry, Dancing in the White Spaces, Etz Chayim She: Modern Poems Grown from Ancient Texts, Mermaid Tears, Lunch with Rav Dimi, and Unearthed.

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