This week, in congregations all over the world, we read about the giving and receiving of the Ten Commandments. Certainly, the image of Moses receiving the two tablets of the law has captivated the imagination throughout history. It is a moment described to be filled with awe and majesty, smoke and fire, chaos and order all at once. In our tradition as well as in the movies, Revelation at Sinai is one of the most powerful images we have to represent a single moment in the ever-unfolding story of the universe.
Much has been written about this powerful divine encounter, and the idea that I would like to share with you today is a teaching by the 20th century German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. Buber taught that the most significant aspect of the Revelation at Sinai was not the content of the Ten Commandment; not the list of rules; not the categories of ethic; but rather the human capacity to receive Revelation itself. According to Buber, the most important thing about Sinai is not what God said, but the fact that we hear.
There is so much in this world to which we are deaf and so much that we refuse to hear. The noise around us is great, and yet, as Sinai stands to teach us, we are able to hear and understand truth and goodness in despite the noise and chaos. The miracle is in this human capacity to hear and grow and learn.
In this sense, revelation is not simply the process of being given new truths, but of learning to open our ears and our hearts to new ideas and perspectives. In this sense, revelation is not a single moment in time, but rather an on ongoing string of endless opportunities to become aware. In this sense, our relationship with God can be understood as being rooted in our willingness to listen more attentively and open our hearts to the needs of the world around us.