Shavuot In This Year’s Climate

Once again, we stand at Sinai and recall the story of the Giving and Receiving of the Torah. Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory, wrote: “The surest way of misunderstanding revelation is to take it literally, to imagine that God spoke to the prophet on a long-distance telephone. Yet most of us succumb to such fancy, forgetting that the cardinal sin in thinking about ultimate issues is literal-mindedness.”

So, if we are not to take Sinai literally, then how are we to understand what happened and what it means to us? Torah has many meanings in our tradition. Etymologically, it is linked to the root L’Horot, “to show the way.” It is associated with Wisdom and Learning. Our sages speak of Torah that preceded the Written Torah, the Wisdom of the Inner Being of the Cosmos. They speak of the Oral Torah, the teachings and interpretations of the Sages passed down through the generations. And we speak of Torah that we “give over” to each other. A Dvar Torah, a Word of Torah-Insight, that we can share with others is another meaning.

What is our Torah for today? Yes, the Torah is also like a Ketubah, a marriage document, between us and the Source of Life. On Shavuot we are, once again, drawn into a holy partnership. What does that mean today? What will it mean post Covid 19? How are we being “shown the way” to go forward?

Shavuot is also the Festival of the First Fruits. Is there a connection between Torah and first fruits? Farmers and gardeners might see this more clearly. In farming or gardening we are in partnership with the Life Force, Khaye Olam. Khaye Olam needs us to work the soil, to sew, to reap, in order to nourish ourselves…and others.

The Torah of Life continues after Sinai. In the days and months ahead, we need to prepare the social and political landscape for the world the pandemic has awakened us to. The possibilities for a sustainable, just and loving world are before us.

Shavuot begins Thursday night. Treat yourself to bringing in the Light, a Kiddush of the fruit of the vine, and a yontifdike meal. It’s also an old tradition to decorate with fresh flowers and eat blintzes! Check out

Join us tonight for a special learning with renowned educator and poet Danny Siegel. Check out the Shavuot Tikkun on Thursday night. Finally, join us on Zoom Friday morning for gentle yoga and the reading of the Ten Commandments. Khag Sameyakh, In health, fruitfulness and joy,

Reb David

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