I decided to take four students who could not go home for Chanukah vacation on a trip to Mount Lassen National Park for some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The park is magnificent. The ride for five large men in a tiny Mazda GLC was uncomfortable, but the discomfort was worth it the minute we saw the park.
The bubbling mud pots intrigued one student. They stank of rotten eggs, so most of us, watched from afar. This student wanted to edge closer and closer. While we were all yelling, “Be careful!” he edged close enough to place his foot over a mud pot, which boiled over just as he played his risky game. The heat melted his heavy boot onto his foot, and we had to carry him up a small mountain back to the trail, and then, in our snowshoes, carry him down the trail to the car.
This time, with a six foot 18 year old screaming in pain, we were even more crowded than before. I had to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. The first aid station at the ranger’s office was closed. I zoomed around the mountain roads, veering on the edge of the cliffs. I never drove so fast and skillfully before in my life. I was, in all humility, unbelievable. Everyone else in the car had their eyes closed; I was too scared to even blink, as we rounded the dangerous curves of the mountain road. We made it to the closest hospital in unbelievable time.
I have never driven like that again. I admit to temporary insanity. I believe all my passengers were scarred for life, although not as badly as the foot of the risk taker. The story spread through yeshiva like wildfire and soon I had driven 100MPH around curves ten times more frightening than the actual curves. People were begging me to take them on my next trip. They all expected me to drive like that again. I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I had to rush. I had no choice. I did things I would not have done if not for the emergency.
I can imagine the rush of the Children of Israel to Mt. Sinai. They just had to get there. It was to be the climax of everything they had experienced. They rushed to experience ultimate connection to God. They rushed as they never did before or would again. There are times we rush for emergencies, and even rarer, more precious times when we rush toward something absolutely wonderful and exciting. How fortunate they were to have something so wonderful waiting for them that they had to rush even more than the wild man of Lassen.
We may not be able to rush time and make Shavuot happen any sooner, but we can still rush toward this incredible day, when we can experience the Revelation.The Foundation Stone is happy to fuel your trip toward Sinai: We offer the Haftarot of Shavuot: The Electric Relationship With God, A Troubled Prophet.Table Talk: Ruth, Spiritual Exercises for Shavuot, The Music of Halacha: Making Sinai Part of Your Torah Study, and Which Would You Choose by Heshie HaGibbor.
For our friends in Israel we offer the Haftarah of Nasso, Table Talk: Nasso, and The Music of Halacha: Three Levels of Separation – The Conclusion. Bentzion of Medziboz shares his Stories of the Baal Shem Tov, and Keter Shem Tov.
We are happy to announce that some of our classes are now available through a conference call. You can find the schedule and information about new posts on our Twitter site together with insights, or on our Foundation Stone Blog. We hope you participate in both.
Wishing you a Chag Sameach.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg