Leann Shamash
Author of the blog Words Have Wings

Sinai Pianissimo

Pianissimo (photo by Leann Shamash)

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.”* (Taken from Sefaria : Introduction to Kabbalah: The Creation Myth)

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  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

through the air

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


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.



About the Author
After a career in Jewish education, Leann Shamash is the author of the blog Words Have Wings, which addresses the parsha of the week through poetry.
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