When the Israelites reached Mount Sinai, where Moses famously received the Ten Commandments, they were at a spiritual and existential juncture. Former slaves clinging to the promise of their own holy land, there were no guarantees they would ever arrive. Some even thought maybe they should have stayed in Egypt, where life left no room for hope or dreams but at least was familiar. In the wilderness, the people were anxious and afraid. For some, cracks began to show in their faith. They made a golden calf and began to worship it as a god.
To doubt is to be human. Faith is easy when the outcome looks certain, but so much harder when the way forward is overwhelming, scary, or difficult. What would have happened to the train full of toys if the Little Engine That Could had not believed in himself? I think I can, I think I can—until he did reach the top of the mountain.
In Sadie and the Big Mountain, a little girl dreads climbing a pretend “Mount Sinai” on Shavuot, but the beauty of this holiday is that everyone’s proverbial mountain is within their reach. Sadie’s fears turn to joy when she sees that her Mount Sinai is the perfect size for her.
Why did God choose Mount Sinai when there were bigger more impressive mountains nearby? In The Littlest Mountain, the big mountains were arrogant and hungry for prestige. Little Mount Sinai, on the other hand, was humble and steadfast, the only mountain that never doubted God’s mysterious ways. This little mountain would not be led astray by any fool’s gold.