“How Long” or just “How”?


In the twenty-fifth section of Honey from the Rock — a small, easy to read, yet profound book of Jewish Mysticism — Rabbi Lawrence Kushner says:

“How long must someone look at a burning bush to know whether or not it is being consumed?  Certainly longer than most people look at anything.   Longer, in other words, than you need to.  More than to see it.   Or to use it.  Long enough to see if it will be for you an Entrance.  Such a man was Moses, our teacher.  And likewise, anyone who is able to gaze at a place long enough without being distracted.”

Kushner implies that Moses was able to meet G-d thru the burning bush because of “how long” Moses could look “without being distracted.”   . . . And, with a bit of trepidation about whether I have the credentials to challenge Rabbi Kushner, I’m going to admit that I disagree with his assessment of why Moses found G-d in that bush . . . .

First, Moses was tending sheep in an arid rocky area, where a bushes wouldn’t grow very big.  Odds are that bushes there would have been dry and burned as quickly as dry pine trees.  So, it seems to me, Moses wouldn’t have had to look at the bush more than a few seconds to realize it wasn’t being consumed like typical bush.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, if someone sees something amazing in nature like, for example, last evening’s sunset:

sky-sevenA person either “sees” in that sky an Entrance to a holy moment with G-d, or a person is too distracted by other mental and/or physical tasks to see the Entrance.  Not only do I doubt that a distracted person could find an Entrance by staring at that sky for a long time, but . . . less than ten minutes later, the sky looked like this:


. . . that Entrance was closing . . . .  But fear not, my friends, one if not many other Entrances were opening at that very moment — the stars in the sky, the sliver of moon reflecting the sunlight, the crunch of my shoes against snow, the call of the birds, the beating of my heart, the sound of children laughing, a smile filled with love, the sound of a child breathing as he falls asleep, etc., etc. . . .

Moses didn’t need to look a long time.  He had to know “how” to look.  Moses had constant awareness that G-d was the essence of Being, that G-d filled the Earth with G-d’s Glory.  Moses knew to expect an Entrance at any moment, and he knew those Entrances usually would not be marked with blinding lightening and deafening thunder, but with the subtle call of a still, soft voice, trying to coax him from the distractions of life into Awareness of Life.

And, my friends, we can become like Moses.  We need not stare in any one place for a long time.  We simply need to remember that Entrances are everywhere, and we need to permit ourselves a few seconds here and there to acknowledge those Entrances, to momentarily connect to the Unity of all Creation, to the beauty that unfolds around us and from which we are inseparable, to the eternity that we can know that we live if we acknowledge our Oneness with G-d.

I’ll be praying you see Entrances as they open around you . . .

Shabbat shalom, jen


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