The Instincts of Others
My granddaughter knows that Pip will not enter the dining room on Shabbat. All we have to do is say, “Shabbos!” and he leaves the room. She was baking Challah on Thursday with her mother, and Pip was desperately reaching for the food on the counter, driving her crazy. “Thursday!” she yelled. He looked at her with total confusion. Obviously, Thursday is not Shabbat.
Her younger sister doesn’t like bugs, so, when they fly around her on Shabbat, she cries out, “Shabbos!” The stupid bugs don’t listen. The five year old doesn’t realize that Pip is different, and that not all of God’s creatures are as careful with Shabbat as our dog!
It’s easy to forget that what we take for granted as natural behavior is not always shared by others; people or bugs, or even other less wonderful dogs. If it works for us, it should work for everyone! I am often shocked when I share, what I believe to be a powerful and exciting insight, does not elicit a similar response from others. I may consider an idea to be life changing, and someone else will simply yawn. I feel like my granddaughter crying out “Shabbos,” to no avail.
Was it possible for anyone who stood at Revelation to imagine that there were others who did not see with the same clarity? I think, not. Until, that is, the people who stood at Sinai, pulled away, and asked that Moshe speak for God. They were too intimidated to maintain the necessary awareness for continued Revelation.
At the moment they pulled back from God, they learned that there will always be people who will pull back from a powerful, life changing insight or experience. The Children of Israel learned that even as one part of them desired connection, another part withdrew. They realized that not only to other people respond differently, but even parts of us will have a different experience.
The Children of Israel learned tolerance for others. They learned tolerance for themselves. They learned that no matter how powerful an insight, we still have to work at committing our entire being to respond. We will be able to share our insights only after we have integrated them into our entire being.
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