Rabbi’s June 2024 Column

Shalom All,

Shavout begins on Tuesday, June 11th, this year.

Shavout is one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals on the Jewish Calendar. The other two are Passover and Sukkot. Each of these festivals commemorate a different part of our ancestor’s journey from slavery to the Promised Land. Just as Passover marks the Exodus from Egypt and Sukkot the forty years of wandering in the desert, Shavuot recounts the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

It was at this moment, according to Tradition, that our ancestors changed from a group of emancipated slaves into a nation of God. For when our people accepted the “yoke of the Commandments,” they became God’s chosen ones, meant to be a light to the nations,” a living example of a holy life lived according to the Laws of the Eternal.

One particular point that the rabbis make about this moment, however, is the element of choice. Our ancestors were already freed. Sure they were in the wilderness, and may not have fully understood all of the implications of their freedom, but they were still free. They could have scattered, gotten scared, returned to Egypt, but they didn’t. Instead, they made the free choice to connect themselves to Adonai, to accept the Commandments, and walk in God’s ways.

So every year, at Shavout, we today have the opportunity to reaffirm that choice. To not only accept that it was a choice our ancestors made long ago, but to declare it a choice we too would have made, and that we are still choosing today. During services, we will rise for the reading, the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, just as our forebears did so long ago.

Shavuot services are Tuesday night, June 11th, at 7:30 pm. I hope you can join us.

Chag Sameach everyone,

Rabbi Todd