In preparation for giving Torah and the two tablets to Moses, the Eternal One tells him, “Come up to Me on the mountain, and be there.”
The Kotzker rebbe astutely notes a seemingly superfluous addition to these instructions: be there? Where else would Moses be once he climbs the mountain? Unless, intuits the Kotzker rebbe, unless it means Moses needs to be fully present, not letting his head drift elsewhere, consumed by other thoughts.
Pulled in dozens of different directions, it feels increasingly difficult for both college students and Hillel staff to ever “be there,” to ever just remain present in the current accomplishment before worrying about scaling that next mountain. But Moses was invited to be there with God, not alone.
Perhaps it is in being there for reasons outside ourselves – for another student, for community, for the Divine – that we truly learn how to be there at all.
Rabbi Brandon Bernstein is Campus Rabbi at Northwestern Hillel.
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