Parashat Yitro

Preparing To Receive God's Message

Unlike the first tablets, the second tablets, which were hewn by human hands, endured.

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Frequently people complain, Why is Judaism meaningless to me? It doesn't move me. I am not affected by its message. When I attend services, it leaves me cold. Nothing happens to me. The rabbi, the cantor do not inspire me sufficiently."

These people mistakenly view religion as something external to themselves, as something separate and apart. They do not realize that one must prepare himself to receive the message of God. "Hew for yourself"--make yourself a proper receptacle to receive God's word. Then it will affect you.

Attending services is not like attending a show or theater. Services require active participation, not merely passive observation. The rabbi and cantor cannot pray and be devout for you. Prepare your own tablets and ascend the mountain. Then God will inscribe his word upon them.

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Melvin Bur is the rabbi at Ocean Avenue Jewish Center in Brooklyn, New York.