Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Where are you right now? And, wherever that is, are you truly present with all your being?
In the Torah portion we just read on Shabbat, there is a description of the ascent of Moshe to Mount Sinai as follows: "And the Lord said to Moshe: Come up to the mountain and be there." Why is it necessary to add the words "and be there?" If Moshe Rabbeinu ascends the mountain, is he not obviously there?
Our commentators explain that when Moshe Rabbeinu goes up to receive the Torah, he reaches a new peak in human experience, a spiritual elevation unlike any other. For that reason, he needs maximum focus, an awareness and full appreciation of the greatness of the moment, an authentic connection to that incomparable event. We are not Moshe Rabbeinu on Mount Sinai, but we can emulate the awareness that he demonstrates there.
In my childhood, there was a skit on Rehov Sumsum (Sesame Street) about a child who kept saying: "I want to be there." In other words, somewhere else -- since he was never satisfied with wherever he happened to be. Years later I realized there was great relevance to us all in this child's message. Often enough, although physically present in a particular place, our minds are elsewhere. We might wonder if we are missing out on something as we check our cell phones. We have to work at being aware and in touch with where we are so as to fully experience each moment without distractions.
So where are you right now? May we be privileged to ascend new mountain peaks and to be completely present when we get there. Shavua tov.