Mishpatim: At the Summit

God said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, then I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah and commandments which I have written for you to teach.” (Shemot 24:12.)

Climbing to God
up the mountain,
gaining the summit
with a hammering heart.
Breathing deeply
drinking in the vista:
clouds float softly
ethereal and pure;
birds soar languidly
over the valley
above rugged slopes
sprinkled with flowers;
a cerulean sky
arches far above, as
the sun’s bright shafts
warm dreaming eyes.
Heartbeat slows as
mind awakens:
– there, ready
to receive the word of God.


The Kotsker Rebbe comments on the seemingly superfluous words “Be there.” Where else would Moses be but at the top of the mountain? The Kotsker derives the importance of being present and focused in the moment. He notes how often we expend great effort in climbing a mountain, but once we reach the summit, our minds are elsewhere. He says, “One may be standing on the mountaintop, but one’s mind may be in another place. The main thing is not the ascent, but actively being there, and only there, not being both above and below at the same time.”

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