RABBI ARTHUR SEGAL: SEVEN WEEKS FROM PASSOVER TO SHAVUOT, GIVING OF TORAH
JUNE 2016 BLUFFTON SUN RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
Shalom and greetings:
In our tour through the Jewish calendar this year, we arrive at June 12, Shavuot, 6th day of Sivan.
Shavuot's derivation comes from seven [shevah] weeks from the second day of Passover to the Revelation at Sinai. We are to grow spiritually these 49 days by studying Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers). This prepares us to personally be ''there'' when God revealed Torah to Moses, the Hebrews and others at Mt. Sinai.
Spiritually, we are married to God, with Torah as our Ketubah on Shavuot (Talmud Pesachim 49B). The Midrash teaches that Mt. Sinai was chosen because it was in no nation's territory. Torah is available to all people. Sinai is a small flat mountain, humble, not tall or proud and chosen for this humility. The word ''Sinai'' relates to the Hebrew word for hatred, "sinat." The sages teach those who live by God's words will be hated, sometimes by their fellows. We show that one can lead a spiritual, much more fulfilling life with God. We show that it is possible to give up defects of character, including resentments and egotistical behaviors. We are not better than others and we still make errors. But we make amends, and try to do better. Knowing for what we stand means we won't fall for "anything."
Taught also is the dissolution of the idea of Jews being the "chosen people." Torah was offered to many other Nations before the Hebrews. Some said, "We don't want Torah because we can no longer steal," and others said, "We don't want it because we can't commit adultery" (Midrash). The Hebrews said, "We will do, and we will hear." (Ex.24:7). Hebrews chose God, He didn't choose Hebrews. We aren't special. Jews are like everyone else, although it has been quipped, "only more so."
When the Hebrews heard God speak, at Sinai, they became afraid, wanted to run and not accept Torah. God held Mt. Sinai over their heads to make them obey (Talmud Shabbat 88a). If the Hebrews, who saw "signs and wonders" in Egypt just seven weeks before, were reticent to accept God's Torah, then we, 3,300 years later, have to make Sinai's Revelation relevant to our lives every day.
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
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