Parashat Yitro: G-d
When you imagine what G-d looks like, what do you see? Close your eyes for a moment, and try to picture what you associate with G-d. What is the first image you see? Maybe you see nothing, the classic old man with a long beard, or something ethereal.
In this week’s Torah Portion, Yitro, G-d appears to the Israelites as a “cloud” hovering over Mount Sinai during the great Revelation, the awesome moment when we receive our Torah. G-d says to Moses before Revelation, "Behold, I am coming to you in the thickness of the cloud, in order that the people hear when I speak to you, and they will also believe in you forever (Exodus 19:9)." So it came to pass, “That there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and the sound of the shofar exceedingly loud (Exodus 19:16).” The ground trembled. And, as the Israelites stood at the base of Mount Sinai, G-d descended upon the mountain in fire covering it in smoke. While the voice of the shofar grew stronger and stronger. Then Moses spoke, and G-d answered him by voice.
There was G-d in all G-d’s glory for us to see, hear, and experience with all of our senses, so we could believe without a doubt that Revelation came from G-d and we would willingly continue to follow Moses, and follow G-d. G-d became a cloud for us. G-d became tangible for us at this moment of “historical” change. To refocus us on my earlier questions about what we see when we think of G-d, why would G-d choose to appear as a cloud? How would this lasting image sit with you? On this Shabbat when we experience Revelation, I’m going to leave you with questions rather than answers to explore. Think of G-d. Think about what you believe. Think about how we as a People and you as an individual experience G-d in our world now. G-d gave us this power to never forgot how the Israelites saw G-d. How do you experience G-d?