Attainable Summits

May 20, 2022

Our sages identified the name of this week’s Torah portion, Behar, from the location at which Gd shares a list of Sabbatical laws with Moses, Behar Sinai (“at Mount Sinai”). What is particularly interesting with this week’s Torah portion is the rabbinic discussions that ensued about humility, pride, and ego.

There is a Midrash that explains that Gd selected Mount Sinai to be honored with “hosting” the Revelation of the Ten Commandments because it was the smallest and most humble of the great mountains.

Of course, the paradox to this explanation is why choose a mountain at all if you’re going to choose the smallest one? Certainly, a flat plateau would reinforce a similar message, or what about a valley where the people could stand above Moses and receive their cherished gift from below?

The Rebbe shared the importance of balancing out humility with pride and self-worth and explained that a small mountain provided the people with both experiences; height to help them remember their size and humility to Gd’s other creations and gratitude and importance of receiving something so special and unique.

Yet, as much as I genuinely love this insight that recognizes the needed balance between humility and pride, I believe there is a third perspective that adds the insight of attainability. As humans, we need goals and aspirations, and we need them to be within our realm of possibility. When I was a child, I remember celebrating the 25th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 ascension of Mt. Everest. Wow, how amazing it would be to climb the highest mountain on earth, I dreamed. Today, four decades later I am no closer to reaching that summit!

Alternatively, my Jewish journey up Mt. Sinai is an ever-continuing ascension. This journey has potential. This journey has mile markers that highlight my progress and enable me to enjoy the memories, experiences, and lessons learned along the way. Reaching the summit of this mountain has potential and real possibility.

It is said that every journey begins with a single step, and this week’s Torah portion, Behar, reminds us that our Jewish journey is humbling, yet a generator of great pride, all the while knowing that its summit is well within our reach.

And speaking of journeys, and Jewish ones at that, how would you like to join us on a Jewish-focused mission to Budapest, Hungary?

The San Antonio Jewish community is part of a consortium of sixteen Jewish communities across the United States, Budapest, Hungary, and the Western Galilee region of Israel. As a member of this Partnership2Gether (P2G) community, we are excited to invite you on a long-awaited trip to our European counterpart Budapest, Hungary.

Please click HERE for more information on the costs, travel itinerary, and registration deadlines. This will be a unique opportunity to meet and travel with other members of our international P2G community and experience Jewish Budapest and its rich history in a very special way.

Gd recognized Mount Sinai because it was different and unique from the other mountains. We invite you to come and join us as we too recognize our unique European member of our P2G consortium, because we are…


Shabbat shalom,