Shavuot reminds me why I’m grateful for having the Torah in my life. by Sara Debbie Gutfreund “No way, I’m not giving them the wrong answers. We should help them.” He looked at me like I had landed from another…
by Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum Renewing your nuptial vows this Shavuot. When our daughter got married, I knew her wedding would be a special experience for many of our friends who had never seen an Orthodox Jewish wedding before, but I…
by Rabbi Noson Weisz Comparing the two tablets: one containing obligations toward God, the other obligations toward people. The Torah contains 613 commandments. But on Mount Sinai — the only occasion in history when the entire Jewish people had a…
by Rabbi Noah Weinberg
When the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai, the entire nation was unified. The lesson is clear for us today.
Throughout the Torah, the Jewish people are always referred to in the plural form. This is evident in Exodus 19:2, which says the Jews “journeyed (vayi’su)… arrived (vaya’vo’u)… encamped (vaya’chanu)” — all references are in the plural.
But then this verse ends with a surprise: Vayichan sham Yisrael neged ha’har — “and the Jews encamped (singular) opposite the mountain.”
In coming to Sinai, the Jewish people are referred to in the singular form. Rashi says this emphasizes how the entire nation encamped “with a single goal, and a singular desire.”
Unity was a prerequisite for Sinai. An event with such earthshaking consequences could only be possible with unity.
How were the Jews able to achieve such unity at Sinai?
In Exodus chapters 15-17, the Jews are having a hard time. There’s no water — and they complain. Then there’s no meat — and they complain. They’re so upset that Moses is afraid they’ll kill him! Then again no water. The Jews are fighting and bickering terribly.
Then Amalek came and battled Israel. An outside threat shook us. What happened next? The Jews encamped in unity at Sinai.
When Jews are threatened as a people, we get the message loud and clear. We know we are one. In the Six Day War, all Jews stood together. In the struggle for Soviet Jewry, all Jews rallied together. When we’re attacked, we become one.
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons One of the holiest days of the Jewish year is also one of the least known. What is Shavuot really all about?
It is ironic that Shavuot is such a little-known holiday. Because in fact, Shavuot commemorates the single most important event in Jewish history — the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Shavuot is the culmination of the seven-week-long “counting of the Omer” that occurs following Passover. The very name “Shavuot” means “weeks,” in recognition of the weeks of anticipation leading up to the Sinai experience. (Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known as “Pentecost,” a Greek word meaning “the holiday of 50 days.”)
3,300 years ago, after leaving Egypt on the night of Passover, the Jews traveled into the Sinai desert. There, the entire Jewish nation — 3 million men, women and children — directly experienced divine revelation:
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Wishing you a happy, healthy and festive Passover.
By Duane Lester While discussing the burning of the Koran on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Time Magazine World Editor Bobby Ghosh made the claim that burning the Koran was worse than burning the Bible because the Bible was written by men and the Koran came straight from Allah.
GHOSH: The thing to keep in mind that`s very important here is that the Koran to Muslims, it is not — it is not the same as the Bible to Christians. The Bible is a book written by men. It is acknowledged by Christians that it is written by men. It`s the story of Jesus. TODD: Yes. GHOSH: But the Koran, if you are a believer, if you`re a Muslim, the Koran is directly the word of God, not written by man. It is transcribed, is directly the word of God. That makes it sacred in a way that it`s hard to understand if you`re not Muslim. So the act of burning a Koran is much more — potentially much, much more inflammatory than – TODD: Directly attacking — directly attacking God. GHOSH: — than if you were to burn a — burn a Bible. TODD: Directly attacking God. News flash to Mr. Ghosh: Christians believe that the Old Testament was delivered to man from God, via people like Moses and prophets like Samuel and Jeremiah. Then came along Jesus, the son of God. Christians believe he taught, did miracles and he died on the cross for our sins.
Last night some of my friends honored me with their presence in my succa – the booth prescribed by God to Moses in Leviticus 23:33-43 – and we talked about Israel. These friends are both novices when it comes to Israel and her customs, as are many of my friends. Generally, they want to know the whys and traditions and why I, as a Christian, choose to keep the Jewish traditions. It is always an opportunity to teach a little bit of what I know and to share my heart.
We sat in the succa, ate a lovely meal and talked quietly about current events, watched the starless sky through the lattice work as the brilliant moon moved slowly across the sky outshining the attempt we had made at outdoor lighting. We listened as an Air Force plane flew over and wondered if they wondered what on earth that big white thing was in our yard since it hadn’t been there before and we likened it to the movie, Close Encounters of a Third Kind. We were having a close encounter as we shared our hearts.
Putting the Seder into perspective.
The holiday of Passover marks the anniversary of the birth of the Jewish nation. The story of the Jewish nation is one of individuals who became a family who became a people. The great individuals who laid the spiritual foundation of Jewish peoplehood were Abraham and Sarah, their son and daughter-in-law Isaac and Rebecca, and their son and daughters-in-law Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.
From Jacob, Rachel, and Leah came a family of 70 people who, due to a famine in Israel, were forced to migrate to Egypt. In Egypt this family grew and prospered to such an extent that they eventually came to be seen as a threat by their Egyptian hosts. Respect and admiration turned to contempt, and finally to an organized program of enslavement and oppression. After 210 years, and a series of unheeded warnings by Moses to Pharaoh which resulted in the Ten Plagues, God liberated a nation which had grown from the original family of 70 people. Seven weeks later this newly conceived nation received the Torah at Mount Sinai.