Shavout (May – June 2013)

Of the three major Festivals in Judaism, Shavuot is probably the least familiar. It never enjoyed the popularity of either Passover or Sukkot. But, in many ways, it is the most significant of all. It celebrates our raison d’etre — the receiving of Torah — our tradition.

Shavuot will be celebrated on May 15n this year. Shavuot began as a harvest festival, but religiously it commemorates the revelation at Sinai. We often understand revelation as a singular event in our people’s history. But what if we changed the tense and removed the word “singular” replacing it with the word “ongoing”? Revelation is an ongoing event in our people’s history.

Revelation can be viewed as a never-ending exploration of the things that ought to be most important to us. The experience which began at Sinai and continues through today reminds us that we were presented with a thread which can run through our many and varied stories…a thread of Torah which binds them all together into a meaningful anthology…that which we call our lives.

Following the celebration of Shavuot, our lives move into a different rhythm. Our congregational calendar relaxes. Summer is on the way. Yes, our services continue. Our committees continue. However, many of our programs take a break. Our auxiliaries have concluded their major programming. Come summer, many congregants go away on vacations. Such change gives us pause to reflect.

Much has happened in our lives during this past season. As your rabbi, I have been privileged to share in so many of those moments: holding a new baby, listening to tales of turmoil and joy, celebrating times of growth and gratitude, sharing in learning. Each of these events — part of our lives together — make up a unique story.

As we celebrate Shavu’ot, as we applaud our graduates, as we rejoice with our brides and our grooms, as we console those who mourn, may we be aware always of the stories we are writing. Let us not be so concerned about how they will end. Rather, let us be content with the knowledge that the story has begun. And wherever our stories take us, may we keep the thread of Torah running throughout — both as guide and guardian.

Hag Same’ach — Good Yontuf.

Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett