• Caroline Dorn & Ellie Goldman

So... What's With All The Walking?

A Few Snippets from Parshat Yitro

Exodus 19:3

and Moses went up to God...

Exodus, 19:7

Moses came [back down again] and summoned the elders of the people and put before them all that the LORD had commanded him.

Exodus, 19:8

.... And Moses brought back [up the mountain] the people’s words to the LORD.

Exodus, 19:10

...and the LORD said to Moses, “Go [all.the.way.down the mountain] to the people...

Exodus, 19:20

...and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up.

And… in the very next bloody verse...

Exodus, 19:21

The LORD said to Moses, “Go down, warn the people not to break through to the LORD to gaze, lest many of them perish.

Exodus, 20:18

So the people remained at a distance, while Moses [hiked back up the mountain and] FINALLY approached the thick cloud to receive from God MULTIPLE chapters of rules and regs describing what it means to be in Covenant with God.


So... What is with all the walking? Why must Moses trek up and down Mount Sinai every time there is a message to be shared? Throughout Torah, God and Moses are able to communicate quickly back and forth without the mention of Moses needing to take a day hike with granola bars, 2 bottles of water, his compass and a hat to make it happen. We know that everything in Torah serves a purpose - so why the hiking?

The People’s encounter with God at Mount Sinai is the pivotal moment when they go from being a crowd of individuals and family tribes to the People in community with God. It’s a BIG deal. Moses is sharing information that will change their lives and the world forever. Maybe he - Moses the human being - just needs a little time to take it all in and gather his thoughts. Perhaps the instruction to walk up and down over and over is a gift from God to Moses of a little space in between the dual intensities of speaking to God and leading the People.

Today, we don’t benefit from a lot of in between time. The fast pace of news, social media and workflow demands of us immediate response to and reflection on situations of all sorts even before those circumstances have fully unfolded. As leaders, we are not always given the gift of a moment's pause to absorb what is happening to the world and the impact on us before we take our place as a calm and knowledgeable presence for our congregations.

The time in between matters. Sometimes we need to collect our thoughts, sometimes we need a little distance from our own emotions in order to be better leaders.

1. What moments might benefit from intentional in between time to travel from the top of Mount Sinai to the bottom or back again?

2. Working virtually during COVID means that we lose out on “in between time” such as the walk back to one’s office or the few unscheduled moments between meetings. Now, with back-to-back Zooms, how can you make time to process before you need to respond?

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