FROM THE RABBI’S DESK

 

 

  May/June 2020

          

Shavuot is the only festival mentioned in the entire Bible for which Torah does not designate any specific date on the Hebrew calendar. Its observance must be determined by the ritual (Omer) of counting fifty days from the first night of the Passover, until Israel finally arrives at Sinai for the giving of the Torah. You must make each day count and prepare yourself spiritually to get to the mountain peak and there, make the decision to accept/embrace the covenant. The acceptance of this covenant depends solely upon us as individuals; our readiness to make the commitment. Remember that this covenant is proposed and not imposed! Paradoxically, Mt. Sinai remains sacred for only one incandescent moment and then loses its sanctified status while the hill top in Jerusalem (Moriah) remains eternally; "sacred space". 

 

Shavuot is also unique in that its observance involves no symbolic rituals as do all other Jewish Holy Days. Its significance is so fundamental to our faith and life as Jews that there could never be any symbol or ritual which could adequately communicate its meaning.  Since the covenant/Torah is deemed to be eternal (existing before creation and binding for all time) therefore Shavuot (the giving of the Torah) is no mere occasion from our past; a time limited, historic event which took place once upon a time. It is rather, a miraculous emanation of the Divine containing eternal wisdom and teaching for every/all generations. Torah's infinite timelessness is underscored by the Pentecost's total lack of any calendrical point of reference. Each individual must decide when to accept the Torah. Torah remains eternally new because it cannot be bound by time. The physical redemption of our people took place on a specific date in the past (Passover) but our spiritual redemption must take place in the ever renewing "now”. To be properly understood and appreciated the Torah must be perceived by us as new--as new as the present moment; the here and now. Neither the past nor the future, as important as they are, may be permitted to distort or weaken this very day (HAYOM). It remains paramount. 

 

As stated above, this festival of Shavuot commemorates the giving (and the receiving/acceptance) of the covenant and its ten commandments. If we choose not to acknowledge this tradition concerning the Divine source instructing us regarding right and wrong/ good and evil--then we have nothing other than human authority to establish such standards. However, humans and their legislation can sometimes be wrong, mistaken or immoral. Peoples and their governments can be confused, ill conceived, evil, bribed, misled etc. Even governments like the US and Israel have done wrong. One's own beliefs can evolve and change over time; societal norms can shift and vary. These everlasting and perpetual precepts/commandments created civilized culture/society and continue guiding humankind in the 21st Century and beyond. AMEN!