Milk is the first food we eat, gliding silkily over our infant tongues, filling our tummies with warm comfort. We never know hunger until we come into the world and milk is our first taste of love, of nourishment, and comfort.
This week I’ve kind of been acutely experiencing a feeling of being lost in a wilderness. Maybe it’s preparation for receiving the Torah or maybe it’s more related to my husband’s birthday reminding me of my own 40th birthday approaching soon, but for whatever the reason, I have felt in need of comfort, love, and nourishment. I’m sure the Jews felt the same before Mount Sinai. Their future was also uncertain and while Egypt had been horribly confining at least it was a suffering they knew versus the unknown they now faced in the desert.
In many ways, the Exodus was a birth. In darkness and despair, they’d awaited their freedom, but in captivity, there had also been certainty. Slaves are told at every moment what is expected of them. Their world is confined and limited, but the lines are clearly marked out and there is shelter in that structure. Birth is traumatic and freeing at the same time. Suddenly, there is a huge open world that is both exciting and terrifying. Leaving Egypt, it would be easy for the Jews to feel lost and afraid.
At every Jewish holiday, we celebrate it as if it is happening now, for us, in each generation and in each year. At Shavuos, we all celebrate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. We eat dairy foods in part because the Torah is likened to sweet milk, nourishing and comforting and the perfect food for a newborn nation, still learning kosher laws. The words of Torah are said to be like milk and honey on our tongues, sweet and comforting, easy to digest, filling us with warmth.
Today, I turned a corner myself, away from my fears of the future or the passage of time and focusing again on now. I am so fortunate to be able to celebrate this Shavuos with my family and to be able to share in the Torah. If we truly believe that every convert was present at Mt. Sinai that day, then I hope and believe I was there, too and that this nourishment is for me also. If I only can let go of my fear of the wilderness and trust and seek out that comfort and nourishment, then I do believe that my family will find our way again back to Sinai spiritually where we can again affirm our commitment to the Torah just as we did then.
I hope everyone has a peaceful, happy, and meaningful Chag. I plan on doing some good study, enjoying the treats I’ve prepared, and spending time at shul and letting go of dwelling on the past or future and instead focusing on this moment where I can stand again at Sinai.