Wedding canopy over Jerusalem
Wedding canopy over JerusalemYad Le'achim

“And He said: ‘Go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind;

And after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire;

And after the fire a still small voice.

And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here Elijah?” (1Kings, 19:11-13)

The still small voice.

Is this not the voice that we are longing now to hear? The comforting voice of peace, of stillness and serenity. The voice which is heard in the desert at night, with a canopy of darkness, and a myriad of white stars overhead. The still small vice of serenity, heard in hopefulness at the breaking of dawn, in the quiet of the early morning glow. The stillness of waiting, the peacefulness and serenity of freedom from our earthly strife.

Was it only a few weeks ago that we were enjoying Passover?

Blessed this year to be surrounded by our entire family on Seder night.

The children searched for the afikoman, for the missing half. The missing future, which will join the past to create wholeness. And the hand of the child will complete that which had been broken and make it whole again.

Passover eve. We opened the door in invitation to the Prophet Elijah. In anticipation of redemption, of salvation.

The Seder ended, and we read the Song of Songs. We were reminded of the promise. The Lord will call forth His bride from slavery in Egypt, to a future of liberation. The bondage, the tribulation, is in the past and the future will be one of freedom and joy.

“Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away

For, behold, the winter is past.

The rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth.

The time of the singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land….

Arise, my love, my beautiful one,

and come away.”

(Song of Songs 2:10-12)

Passover marked the beginning of our liberation. Our exit from bondage to freedom.

On Passover, we saw the beginning of our physical liberation as a nation, ‘With great signs and wonders’, we were led from slavery to liberty. Guarded in our journey through the wilderness by the physical reminder of God’s presence. Accompanied by clouds during the day, fire at night, so that we would remember.

But freedom is of two sorts. True freedom is not only physical, it is also mental, spiritual.

And freedom of the spirit, when does that occur? The inner freedom which physical freedom facilitates one to achieve.

We as a nation were asked to enter a Covenant with God after wandering for forty years in the wilderness. After we had attained not only physical but also spiritual freedom. The maturity that enables one to make responsible decisions, to take responsibility for one's own life, one's own actions. We are challenged always to maintain the dignity, courage and fortitude which makes us the Chosen People. For freedom of the spirit enables the freedom to undertake true responsibility.

We are now free as a nation, in our own land. We have been redeemed from slavery.“…Indeed, all the earth is Mine, but you will be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation to Me’. (Exodus 19:6)

But we are reminded that freedom is an ongoing process. The challenge to maintain our physical and spiritual freedom.

We as a nation have gone from Passover last year to Passover this year, wandering in fear of illness and death.

And now, as in a nightmare, we are faced with a different existential threat.

But we remember. the Haggadah: “It is this that has stood by our ancestors and us: It is not only one that has risen up against us to destroy us; rather in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us. But the Holy One blessed be He saves us from their hand”.

And we are reminded of the promise. The promise of the afikoman, which though hidden, is ultimately found. One day the world will be redeemed, be perfected. That which was broken will be made whole.

We have just celebrated the Holiday of Shavuot. The holiday of reaffirmation of the Covenant between God and the Nation of Israel. The eternal promise.

According to tradition this holiday, seven weeks after Passover, marks the spiritual wedding between God and the People of Israel.

The day on which we the Children of Israel stood at Mt Sinai, with the mountain above our heads as a canopy.

Perhaps the whiteness of Shavuot symbolized the whiteness of our bridal gown? The cheesecake our wedding cake?

As at Mt. Sinai, we as a nation are again under the wedding canopy.

May we be blessed today with the silence of peace and tranquility, in which we can hear a still small voice.

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.”(Hosea 2:19)