Shabbat Shalom: The Gift of Being Fully Present

Feb 8, 2024 | Article

By: Cindy Coons
Director of Jewish Explorers and Family Engagement

Each year, I feel nostalgic and a sense of pride when we arrive at this week’s parsha, Mishpatim, as it was my daughter’s Torah portion when she became Bat Mitzvah. Mishpatim, which means “laws” in Hebrew, includes 53 mitzvot or commandments related to ritual, moral, and civil laws. To this day, I am still in awe of how my then 13-year-old daughter moved from feeling overwhelmed by so many laws to making sense of these commandments through a curious and thoughtful lens to share a D’var Torah that was beyond her years.

This year, however, my attention was drawn to the very end of this parsha when G-d says to Moses, “Alei elai haharah v’hayei-sham, “Come up to the mountain and be there.” In a parsha that has so many laws or rules, it is interesting that G-d would need to add, “v’hayei-sham” – “and be there,” since G-d had already asked Moses to come up to the mountain. If Moses ascended the mountain at G-d’s request, isn’t he already there? If so, why add, “and be there?” Is this G-d’s way of making sure Moses follows through and is there? Or is this G-d’s way of reminding Moses to be fully present? How many times have we been asked to show up somewhere and have arrived, but have not “been there?” We are often pulled in so many directions, trying to be fully present at work, with family, friends, and community, and for ourselves.

G-d sends Moses a very clear message that he needs to be fully present. We don’t always receive such a direct request to be in the moment; often it’s not until after the fact that we realize we’ve missed the moment by not being fully present. Being present requires intentionality and mindfulness on our part, recognizing what allows us to be present and what are the obstacles that prevent us from staying in the moment. What a gift it is to be present and make each moment count. As we prepare to welcome in and celebrate Shabbat this week, may each of us find the strength to pause and fully be there with and for our family, friends, community, and for ourselves. Wishing you this extraordinary gift on Shabbat and always. Shabbat Shalom from all of us at JEWISHcolorado!

Please email Cindy Coons at with questions or comments.