This week, we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, commemorating the day G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish nation.
The Midrash tells us that before G-d gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, the different mountains each argued their case before G-d to have the Torah given on them. Each mountain extolled its height and its other unique virtues. However, G-d deliberately chose Mount Sinai, the lowest mountain, since it possessed the character trait of humility. G-d desired to convey the message that the Torah ought to be given on a mountain that symbolizes humility.
This begs the obvious question: If G-d wanted to teach us the importance of humility, wouldn’t it be better to give us the Torah on a plane, or even better, in a valley? Wouldn’t these locations convey an even stronger message of humility?
The answer is simple. The Torah is teaching us that although we must incorporate humility into our lives, we must still maintain the ability to stand up for ourselves. When we run into obstacles that stand in the way of doing the right thing, we must summon the courage to be a mountain.
For example, there are times when we feel embarrassed of our Judaism and try to practice it inconspicuously. The lesson of Mount Sinai is that we must be proud of who we are, and not try to blend in with our surroundings. True, we must not be aggressive or combative; on the contrary, the Torah is meant to bring peace and unity into our world. Still, we must retain the confidence of Mount Sinai. We must be comfortable in our role as proud Jews, wherever we may be. PJC
Rabbi Shneur Horowitz is the director of Chabad Lubavitch of Altoona, Pennsylvania. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.