Making sense of Shavuot

This post includes

Why I’m Skipping Shavuot, Rabbi Laura Baum, Huffington Post, 25.05.12


I’m a rabbi. But I won’t be observing the Shavuot holiday this weekend. Not because I don’t have the time. It’s because the traditional message of Shavuot doesn’t speak to me.

My non-observance of Shavuot makes me like the majority of Jews. Many don’t even know what Shavuot is. If you fall into that category, here’s the primer on one foot: tradition says Shavuot commemorates the day that God gave the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

As a proud Jew who does not believe that God gave the Torah to the Israelites, the holiday doesn’t do much for me. It may sound like I don’t care about Torah. Far from it. I believe Torah is one of the most important reasons to care about Judaism.

But I don’t look at the Torah as a description of actual events. The Torah is not a history book or science text and should not be read like one.


Today Ruth Would be Considered an Infiltrator and Forbidden from Gleaning, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Rabbis for Human Rights, May 2012

Shavuot Thoughts for 5772 on Acting with the Solidarity of Ruth and Naomi, and Looking for Boaz [Excerpts from longer meditation on Shavuot]


Shavuot: from slavery to inclusion, Rene Cassin, 25.05.12

Shavuot not only marks the giving of the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, but also draws to our attention human rights issues such as the plight of refugees in foreign lands. Never has this message been so timely in light of the disturbing riots that have taken place in Israel against African refugees.

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