The Infinite Breaks Through: A Teaching for Shavuot from Rabbi Yael

Image relating to Shavuot teaching

On the mountain, within the fire, the One spoke to us face within face.  -- Deuteronomy 5:4

The Journey began the second night of Passover. Leaving mitzrayim, the narrow place, we set out to explore the wilderness. Seven weeks have passed and each of the 49 days have been woven into our souls. Everything that has happened has prepared us for this moment, this 50th day, when we stand together at Sinai.

Sinai is an experience of revelation, the tradition teaches. The Mystery speaks to each of us according to our strengths, according to our abilities. With thunder and lightening or in a still small voice, the Infinite breaks through and shows us something true.

Something we can live by.

We come to this 50th day and strive to say Hineni, Here I am. I have counted the days. I have walked the path. I am ready. I am open. I am willing to listen. And I am willing to take on mitzvot, actions, practices that will help cultivate my capacity to live in relationship with all life in honesty, love and grace.

Today we listen to a story our ancestors tell. We ask that it enter our souls and inspire our imagination and commitments.

It was before dawn on the fiftieth day.

The air was cold and the sky deep blue

When all of us awoke.


Together we walked slowly toward the mountain and stood.

The ground trembled.

The mountain began to smoke.

Lightening flashed. Thunder roared.

A shofar called from the depths of the earth.

Then all was still.


Into the core of our being

         Within our heart, our soul, on the lines of our face

The One spoke

And everything vanished.

         There was no I, no you, no tree, no bird, no water, no fire.

         There was only One,

                   One breath. Nothing more.

Only One.

         Forever. Eternal.



Then the shofar wailed

         And the world in all its uniqueness rushed back

         Bird, wind, rock, sky

                   And we stood with the One

                   The breath still on our lips

                   And we knew—

We knew

         The One inside the many

         The One beyond anything that can be known

And we trembled in awe

         We stepped back from the mountain

         We turned from the fire

                   And we listened.

We listened to the One reverberate in our hearts

 And in the silence, we heard these Ten Utterances:


I.          I am, I was, I will be. I am the unfolding of all that is. I am constant transformation calling you forward to be.


II.            You cannot arrest me in motion. You cannot grasp or hold me.

                   Do not strive for certainty. Do not seek permanence.


III.         Do not use a Divine name to make false promises. Do not use sacred teachings to lift up a destructive path.


IV.          Rest, Stop, Pause. Honor creation. Declare your freedom.

                   Rest and allow others to rest as well.


V.             Honor your parents. Honor your ancestors.

 Honor those upon whose shoulders you stand.


VI.          Do not murder.


VII.        Do not betray.


VIII.     Do not steal.


IX.          Do not use the power of words to hurt or destroy.


X.            Feel the fullness of your life. Don’t be led astray by comparing yourself to others. Don’t get lost in desiring what others have. Be content, be fulfilled with what your life brings.


Today, this 50th day,

We take upon ourselves mitzvot.

We take on practices to help us live with clarity and truth.


Take time today to reflect on the journey of these past 49 days. Wonder about what you have encountered, what you have learned. Make a commitment to a practice that will carry you forward.


Take on something you can do everyday that will keep you connected and awake. Listen and choose something that is true for you to do. Be wise and make a promise that feels possible to keep.


Carry this promise through the summer and into the fall.


On Yom Kippur, review your vow and how it has shaped your path.

         If the vow remains true, carry it with you. If it no longer serves, let it go into the light of yom kippur.


Shavuot, the 50th day, we renew our covenant with the One.

         We stand together with all life and say Hineni.

         Here I am. Ready, willing to enter into relationship.

         Ready and willing to be of service.

May my heart be open. May my intentions be clear.

May the work of my hands bring forth blessing and peace.



Listen, the Mystery calls, I am speaking

And I stand here as your witness.

         Do not bring me your bulls, your goats.

         Do not bring me the animals of your fields.

I know every bird of the mountain.

I know every creature of the forest, every sheep in the meadow,

They all belong to me.

         I fill the whole world.

         Creation flows through me.

         Do not offer what is already mine.


Listen, the Mystery calls,

It is the fiftieth day

And this is what I ask of you:

         Cultivate gratitude.

         Make a vow to live in relationship with all life.

         Ask for help in times of trouble and let yourself be guided.


Through this, the Mystery calls, you honor the One.

Through this, the Mystery calls,

         you bring the light of the Divine to dwell.


— Psalm 50:7-15


4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / Site map