Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Giving and Recieving of Torah

In a few weeks, the Jewish world will celebrate one of the greatest of Holy Days.
Shavuot is the time when we  rejoice in the giving of the Torah and the Giver of the Torah. Well also rejoice in our receiving of Torah and entering into convenat with the Giver of Torah.

Shavuot has many names. "Chag (or Hag) Shavuot" means the Feast of Weeks. "Hag Matan Torateinu" means the Feast of the Giving of the Torah. Many considered  this day to be "Chag HaBikkurim" or a day of First Fruits.  As "Atzeret" a day of "being held back or drawn close to the L-rd. 
Shavuot also means "oaths", with the giving of the Torah, the Hebrews and G_D exchanged oaths, forming an everlasting covenant, not to forsake one. Which is why the Day is often pictured as a wedding day. Many Shul are decorated, even the Huppah is raised and the Torah is chanted underneath.

 Nor is it not uncommon for Jewish couples to renew their promises to each other.
Like Mark and I did last year.

(These pictures were taken after Shavuot was over, not during the Holy Day)

Finally, this day is also called “Chag HaKatzit”, the day of the cutting of the crop. This name refers to the wheat harvest, which is the last of the crops to be reaped. This reaping took place at this time. We also read from the Bible Book of Ruth, which places the time of the events described in that book as occurring at Shavuot. Ruth says the events of the book happened “at the beginning of the cutting of the barley crop.”
Just as when Mark asked me to be his wife, sealing it with a gold ring and I had to say yes and then receive the ring, The Torah was given to Israel, never forced upon her. When we stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, we were asked "Will you take this Torah to yourselves," we as a people said yes, we shall. It is said that every Hebrew stood at Sinai, and every Hebrew has the right to accept or reject Torah.
There are three trains of thought as to why the Torah was given to Israel and not another nation.

One is that, the Holy One, Blessed be He offered the Torah to all the nations of the earth, each nation had its own reason for turning it down, the Jews being the only ones who accepted it.  Another thought, one I have most often is that the Jews were offered the Torah last, and we accepted it only because G_D held a mountain over our heads!
Still, another suggests that God chose the Jews because they were the lowliest of nations, and their success would be attributed to God's might rather than their own ability.
For me, I find the answer in Torah herself.
The Holy One made a promise, a covenant with our father Abraham, to bless the nations through him and his seed. One of the ways that we are to "bless the nations," is His giving us the Torah, not to keep for ourselves, but to give to the world.
On Sinai, G_D entered an everlasting covenant with Israel, a covenant that still stands.
Each year, we celebrate the giving and the receiving of Torah, we celebrate the receiving the G_D of Torah.
And I like to think, He rejoices in receiving us
Post a Comment