Let My People Know

"To Accept Things That Are Beyond Our Faculties of Comprehension"

On the second night of Passover we begin looking ahead to the holy day of Shavuot.

With the coming of each special day on the calendar I go to my shelves of books by Rabbi Steinsaltz and review what he has written about that approaching day.

One special source is a book-length dialogue between Rabbi Steinsaltz and Rabbi Josy Eisenberg of Paris, France, called The Seven Lights On the Major Jewish Festivals, (Jason Aronson, 2000).

In the chapter on Shavuot, Rabbi Steinsaltz teaches:

One of the problems facing this generation is that we have perhaps become too “intelligent,” too knowledgeable, or too rationalistic, to be able to experience the total and spontaneous allegiance of our ancestors.

Worse still, we tend to forget that there is something beyond reason. Jews need to face this question both as individuals and as a nation.

How can we recover this ability to transcend the particular and seize reality in its totality without performing fancy calculations beforehand, without asking, “Do I understand?” “Do I want this?” “Am I ready?”

This is why the sages say that every day we need to place ourselves at the foot of Mount Sinai.

This can take place on Shavuot or on any day of the year.

The face-to-face encounter at Sinai involves an encounter with Oneness and willingness to accept things that are beyond our faculties of comprehension.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Seven Lights on the Major Jewish Festivals by Adin Steinsaltz and Josy Eisenberg, p.231-232