created at: 2011-05-27The image to the left is one of artist Keith Haring’s version of the 10 Commandments.  Comment with a link to your images of one or more of the 10 commandments for possible inclusion in a future entry.

Ed. Note:  For the next 10 days as we approach the holy day of Shavuot, we will be sharing personal reflections from several members of the congregation on each of the 10 commandments.  The congregants who will be sharing their words in the next 10 days are members of our nominated slate for the Board of Trustees for the 2011-2012 year.  Each member was invited to share their D’Var Torah at our historic congregational meeting in which we passed the new TBS By-Laws.

We invite you to participate in this dialogue by offering your personal reflections on each of the commandments.

In just eleven short days, Shavuot, the second of the major “pilgrimage festivals” (those holidays when all of the people would flock to Jerusalem in ancient days), will be upon us.  This cycle begins with Passover, the time of our people’s going out from slavery and bondage in Egypt.  Shavuot, celebrated seven weeks later, commemorates the next phase of our people’s journey…the moment of God’s revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.  In the fall, we will mark the third of these pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot, a season which invites us to leave the comfort of our homes and to live in temporary booths as our ancestors did on their travels from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land.

At Temple Beth Shalom, we mark this major milestone moment in the Jewish calendar by celebrating our Confirmation students on the eve of Shavuot, as they affirm their commitment to Torah, Jewish learning, and engagement with our community.  In that way, they are, in fact, reliving that moment at Sinai when Torah was shared with our entire people, and we are so excited to hear them offer words of prayer, Torah, and song with us as we celebrate this festival.  Please do join us for our Erev Shavuot Confirmation service on Tuesday, June 7th at 7:30 PM.  This is the perfect way to mark this holiday season and to rejoice in the accomplishments of our extraordinary teens.  If you are not able to be with us that night, do join us for our Shavuot morning minyan service at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, June 8th – our Yizkor service of remembrance will be read.

In his Guide for the Perplexed, the great Jewish teacher and scholar, Moses Maimonides reflected on the meaning of celebrating the giving of the commandments in the wilderness:

Shavuot is the anniversary of the revelation on Mount Sinai.  In order to raise the importance of this day, we count the days that pass since the preceding festival, just as one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day counts the days and even the hours.  This is the reason why we count the days that pass since [Passover,] between the anniversary of our departure from Egypt and the anniversary of the giving of the law.  The latter was the aim and object of the exodus from Egypt.

As the memories of family seder tables fade into the recesses of our minds, let us recall that the aim of the freedom we celebrated in April was the ability to live lives of sacred meaning and purpose, grounded in covenant with our people.  We were freed so that we might be be bound not to taskmaster but rather to one another in shared practice, ritual, and pursuits as a group of people charged with bringing a little extra light to our world.  May this Shabbat ahead, and the upcoming season of Shavuot, prove to be opportunities to do just that.

I wish you a Memorial Day weekend filled with reverence for those whose memories we call to mind during these days, and a Shabbat that is set apart for its relaxation, its comfort, and its warmth.

Shabbat Shalom!

Todd