Posted by: jdiscover | January 15, 2010

“I Will Be” – What About You?


Visiting the Grand Canyon last week, I was struck, in many ways, by the awesome power of the sight.  Indeed, after a few moments of being struck speechless, something that rarely happens to me, only “Wow!” came to my lips. The grandeur, the size and the age of the space overwhelmed me and made me feel  so insignificant in the scheme of things. I was particularly struck by the fact that the sight before my eyes came so suddenly.

After a long drive from Sedona, Arizona, we had parked the car, been to the Visitor Center and not yet seen the Canyon. “Where do we go to view the Canyon?” I asked the Park Ranger. “One hundred yards that way,” he responded and pointed. We followed the path he indicated. I kept expecting to get a small glimpse of the scene and then, as we got closer, to see more and more.  But that is not what happened. It wasn’t until we were but a few yards from the canyon’s edge that we suddenly saw before us the infinite view as far as the eye could see from right to left and down, down below.

I kept thinking – this canyon has always been here (at least for 100s of million years) but where have I been? Although I certainly knew of its existence and seen many pictures, it wasn’t until I was physically there that the experience touched my heart. I had to take the steps to be there. Being there made it real!

I wondered; perhaps it was so for Moshe (Moses) at the burning bush. I remembered that Rabbi Lawrence Kushner taught: The bush was always burning, but it took Moshe stopping, paying attention and stepping forward to realize the miraculous and to notice God’s presence. Moshe asks God; “When I come to the Israelites…and they ask me ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God answers; “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh….Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Eheyeh sent me to you.” This phrase defies translation but is derived from a verb stem meaning “to be”. Standing before the majesty of the Grand Canyon I felt a sense of this eternal being.  

In this week’s portion and throughout the rest of the Torah, Moshe faces the challenge of conveying God’s eternal being to the people of Israel. He meets with only partial and occasional success. Possibly, Moshe’s problem is that he is trying to convey God’s presence to the people and yet the only way they can get a taste of God’s presence is by taking the steps themselves.  

So to it is for us. God is always there. As he tells Moshe, “I Will Be What I will Be.” The eternal question to all humanity is – will we be there?

On this Shabbat, let us be there with the people of Haiti, suffering unimaginable pain and let us take the steps to be there with God, the Eternal Being.

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose

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