First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/yitro-preparing-for-god/
Netziv Exodus: Yitro
Preparing for God
“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation.” -Robert H. Schuller
Athletes are obvious examples of people who need to prepare excessively to succeed. But serious preparation is a prerequisite for success in almost every aspect of life. For any profession, for any business, for any task, for any relationship, there needs to be time and effort invested to reap the fruits of triumph.
Spiritual life is no different. To have and enjoy a rich spiritual life requires preparation. It requires work, commitment and perseverance. It doesn’t just happen.
At the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Jewish people are about to stand in the presence of God in the most powerful and direct revelation in the history of the world. One might think that just the essence of such a concentrated display of God would be enough. Nonetheless, the Jewish nation is instructed to prepare themselves already three days before the singular event. The Netziv on Exodus 19:2 explains that the more one prepares himself for the encounter with the divine, the more it will take hold in their being.
However, on Exodus 19:11 the Netziv gives a warning regarding the same theme. He claims that if one does not prepare enough, one can leave such holy encounters damaged, even deranged. This is not meant to scare people away from spiritual encounters – it is meant to show the importance and value of preparing for them.
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To Olympic athletes. There is something inspiring about their dedication to their goals.