Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir Eyal ben Ayish

Marriage proposals, birthdays, wedding anniversaries -- everything goes up on social media. It's nice and makes us happy to share with everyone, but in this past week's Torah portion a fundamental principle appears regarding private versus public matters:

When we hear "ma'amad har sinai" (revelation on Mount Sinai) we imagine hundreds of thousands standing and receiving the Ten Commandments during a magnificently impressive event. But this revelation led to the Sin of the Golden Calf, and when Moshe Rabbeinu saw it he smashed the Tablets.

After forgiveness and absolution, the giving of the Second Tablets took place. This time was completely different. G-d says to Moses: "And in the morning you shall ascend Mount Sinai and stand before Me there on the top of the mountain. No one shall ascend with you, neither shall anyone be seen anywhere on the mountain, neither shall the sheep and the cattle graze facing that mountain."

This time there is no crowd, this time it's only G-d and you. And this time is a success. Thousands of years later, we continue the second giving of the Torah, and not the first. Rashi comments as follows: "There is nothing better than modesty."

During an era in which if you didn't post it, you didn't do it, this past week's Torah portion reminds us that sometimes if you didn't post it, you did more - you did something eternal.

Cleaning for Pesach

It's three weeks until Pesach. Dr. Miri Kahana from Efrata Teachers College brings a slightly different perspective on cleaning during this time of year:

"I wanted to share a thought to which I continually return: all of this arduous cleaning is only because we are very rich. Not just me, but all of us. Each of us lives with our family in our own home. There is a separate room for the parents, a kitchen, a shower, and a bathroom. Our houses are full of furniture, clothes, appliances, and food. Our children have more than enough to eat to the point where they forget unopened bags of snacks in their desk drawers and leave sandwiches that they did not even taste in their backpacks.

"How far we are from those distant halakhic discussions regarding a public oven for several families; or the issue of a poor person's cloak taken as collateral for a loan that must be returned each night since the poor person sleeps in the cloak; or the matter of a poor person washing his only shirt Erev Shabbat, despite the prohibition of laundering on this day (prior to the era of washing machines).

Despite the difficulties and challenges of our generation, I am certain that all of us have at least one great-grandfather who would go out of his mind with surprise and joy if he would see the prodigious prosperity in which his great-grandchildren live. Therefore, every once in a while, I remind myself to stop complaining about how much we still have to clean or how much we still have to cook, and simply focus on how much we have."

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin