Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Beshallach 2023

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Is there a place that you consider to be your personal “sanctuary”? What about it allows you to feel safe?

As the Israelites sing to celebrate their liberation, they identify one place as God’s sanctuary:

The Pitch: “You will bring them and plant them in Your own mountain, the place You made to dwell in, O Lord, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands established.” – Exodus 15:17

Swing #1: “It may not be the case that Israel conceived of the world as a mountain, but [this verse] testifies to their conception of the land of Israel in terms of its hills, perhaps because of their initial settlement in the central mountain range, while the Canaanites and Philistines retained the coastal plain.” – Jon D. Levenson, Sinai & Zion: An Entry Into the Jewish Bible

Swing #2: “Probably the Jerusalem Temple of later times, although the entire land is sometimes referred to as ‘mount of your inheritance.’” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “The word ‘sanctuary,’ which emphasizes the sanctity of the building, is found only in the tabernacle texts [Exodus 25 ad passim] and in only one other place in Exodus – in the Song of the Sea, where it is parallel to ‘abode’.” – Carol Meyers, Exodus

Late-Inning Questions: Is it easier to conceive of a God that is everywhere, or a God that calls specific places “home”? Or can we conceive of both? Do you think of a synagogue as “God’s house”? What can we do to make God’s house a home?

On-Deck at TBT: I’m grateful that the synagogue will host a Red Cross blood drive this coming Tuesday, February 7th, from 1:30-6:30pm. The gift of life is the greatest mitzvah in our tradition, so please donate if you’re able.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of homes, two franchises — Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics — are in desperate need of new stadiums. If they can’t obtain them, the teams will likely move. My vote (for what that’s worth) is for them to move to Montreal and Portland, Oregon; any objections?

Shabbat Shalom!