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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Sinai Pianissimo

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Parshat Yitro is the last of the action packed Parshiyot of Sefer Shemot. In it we read of the giving of the ten commandments and the preparation required in order to witness such a catalysmic event. In addition, the parsha begins with a curious interaction between Moshe and has father-in-law Yitro, a Midianite priest. Yitro, for whom the Parsha is named, wisely counsels Moshe on creating a judiciary to judge the many small squabbles of the Hebrews. This gentle interlude is set between the complaints of hunger and thirst expressed by the Hebrews and the Sinai experience. It is as though the Torah takes a deep breath before endeavoring to vividly describe the giving of the law.

Kabbalistic stories are told about the shards that escaped at the creation of the world. These shards (k'lipot) are still "gathered" today. As Howard Schwartz says in Tree of Souls, "That is why we were created — to gather the sparks, no matter where they are hidden. God created the world so that the descendants of Jacob could raise up the holy sparks. That is why there have been so many exiles — to release the holy sparks from the servitude of captivity. In this way the Jewish people will sift all the holy sparks from the four corners of the earth. And when enough holy sparks have been gathered, the broken vessels will be restored, and tikkun olam, the repair of the world, awaited so long, will finally be complete. Therefore it should be the aim of everyone to raise these sparks from wherever they are imprisoned and to elevate them to holiness by the power of their soul."*

In this poem, called Sinai Pianissimo (softly) I have imagined Sinai to be a similar experiences, where elements of Sinai and Matan Torah are still to be found and experienced today. May we all be Zochah (privileged) to find these snippets in our journeys through life.

Sinai Pianissimo

Long after the noise,

the hold-your- breath fear,

the wonder,

the shock and awe.

Long after the heavy clouds

and the Presence,

the Sound,

snippets of Sinai appear

every day.

Long after

The stones

The Words

The rumbles of thunder.

Long after

The Commandments;

the positives and the negatives,

embers of Sinai still glow.

Long after the concepts

of revelation

and redemption

the messages of Sinai float

and wait to be caught.

One can never tell the time

the minute

or the hour.

In every corner

fragments hide in full sight.

Sinai spoonfuls are found in dealings with friends;

even more so with enemies.

Snippets of Sinai appear in purses and on plates of food.

They are found in bedrooms and boardrooms.

On farms and in fields,

in the marketplace and in courtrooms,

on calendars and in communities,

in cities and in forests,

at weddings and at kitchen tables,

on the battlefield,

on the playing field,

at births and deaths

and the hours in between.

Reflections of Sinai stare back at you from the mirror.

They gaze back at you from your children's eyes,

from your grandchildren's small balled fists.

Hints of Sinai are heard in the tenor and tone of language,

in the quality of listening,

the levels empathy and understanding.

Glimmers of Sinai are found in words,

but also in silence.

In groups of three or ten,

or more,

but when you are alone,

listen for echoes of Sinai






within yourself.

Sinai pianissimo.

So soft.

If you listen,

you can hear it.

Middle C

played softly with

one finger.



in a still, small note

that tucks into a soul,

folds into a heart

and camps there.

Some events last for moments

and their echoes


rain down

until this day.


Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for the LORD had come down upon it in fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up.

Exodus 19: 18-20

God spoke all these words, saying: I the LORD am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me.

Exodus 20:1-3

Translations taken from Sefaria

* Taken from Sefaria : Introduction to Kabbalah: The Creation Myth

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