View current news articles, commentary, videos and more that have an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See, HERE
SHAVUOTH: THE HOLIDAY OF THE RECEIVING OF THE TORAH
Our rabbis wonder why Shavuoth, the major festival that occurs seven weeks-and-a-day after Pesach, is never referred to in the Torah as Hag Matan Torah, the holiday in which the Torah is given. Instead, it is referred to as Shavuoth "weeks" or Hag HaBikurim, the "holiday of first fruits." One answer is that the Bible is set in an agricultural society, with the beginning of the harvest as a major event. Another answer is that we need a constant reminder that our freedom is given to us not by our own hands but by God, who brought us out of Egypt. As we bring our first crops to the Temple, we should remember and give gratitude to the God of Israel for bringing us into this fertile land to be His people.
Two other very important reasons are given for the Bible not focusing on Chag Matan Torah, the holiday of the Giving of the Torah. The first is that to receive Torah, one must be humble. The Torah, like water, travels to the lowest place, and one must rid oneself of pride (know-it –all-ness), if one is to receive it. Therefore, the Torah models this humility by not trumpeting it's own importance!
The other is THAT THE TORAH WAS AND ALWAYS IS BEING GIVEN. The Torah is always available for those who are open to receive it. God himself referred to it when He created the world! It was there thousands of generations even before the creation of the world. It's just that humanity, until the time of Abraham and Sara, and later, in a collective fashion at Sinai, did not have a 'spiritual antenna' sufficiently strong enough to RECEIVE IT. And perhaps that is why it is not referred to in the Torah as the “Holiday of the giving of the Torah.” From the Torah's point of view, it was being constantly given, but sadly not being noticed. And so tradition has it, it was treasured by the angels, but not applied until the time of Sinai.
The Midrash adds that the Torah continues to radiate out from Sinai to beckon us; to reveal its truth every single day. A bat kol–a voice from Sinai, continues to thunder from Sinai saying, "my children, oh obtuse ones, come home, return to your God.” Humanity and the Jewish people, distracted in their many day-to-day pursuits, are also not “tuned in” to the ever undulating fountain of insight that our Torah continues to offer us. The Torah, therefore, was, is, and continues to be given, and so the name “The Day of the Giving of the Torah,” would be a misnomer.
We just finished celebrating the wonderful, meaningful and family oriented holiday of Passover and we now look forward to the holiday of Shavuot. This particular holiday is, at times, referred to as the "forgotten" Jewish holiday for quite a few reasons. I believe that probably the most important reason being the fact that there are very few significant and tangible observances or traditions which embellish Shavuot as compared to most of our other holidays.
Rosh Hashanah: We sound the shofar and it's officially our Jewish new year.
Yom Kippur: We fast for 25 hours and it's our final opportunity to beseech G-d for forgiveness.
Sukkot: We build a Sukkah and eat/dwell in it. We also shake the lulav and etrog.
Simchat Torah: This is a major celebration of dancing with the Sifrei Torah (Torahs) and we end and immediately begin the reading of the Torah.
Passover: We do not eat chametz, we celebrate with wonderful seders and so much more.
Shavuot: No real tangible or terribly significant observances. A custom is to eat cheese blintzes, which signify the Torah and the fact that like the cheese on the inside, our observance and study of Torah should also be sweet and enjoyable. Another custom being the fact that we don't eat meat, but rather, dairy products.
Possibly, however, Shavuot should be one of the most important of all Jewish Holidays! We refer to this beautiful chag as: Z'man matan torateinoo, the time that we, the Jewish people received the Torah. In the reading of the Torah on Shavuot, we recount the story of Moses and the Jewish people being the chosen nation to receive and observe the Torah. What single event in our history is more important? I am not sure about you, but most certainly I believe that no other event in our history is more earth-shattering than the events at Mount Sinai and the people of Israel receiving the Torah from G-d.
Please check out the calendar and join us on Shavuot as we together will celebrate TORAH and our amazing history since that time. Read More
Springtime is here and it couldn’t arrive soon enough! We’re done with so many weeks of temperatures below freezing! It has been “March Madness” at ENJC this past month, with nonstop activities for members of all ages. The “madness” started with our Purim Party on the 1st. 85 people wouldn’t let the eight-inch snow storm stop them from having a good time. Three days later, we packed the synagogue for a costume parade and children’s program, followed by the reading of the Megillah. Sisterhood hosted a Stress Management Workshop on March 10th. The following day Rabbi Ian held his Adult Education class. On March 12th the Men’s Club had a fun evening socializing at Miller’s Ale House in Commack. We had fifteen guys, including Chazzan Nussbaum, enjoying each other’s company, and we weren’t even holding a meeting or working an event—and that was just the warmup for the weekend.
The weekend of March 13th -15th was packed with five different activities—something for everyone. Talk about the value of your membership! The weekend began with 80 people participating in the ENJC dinner for Shabbat Across America, followed by our monthly Birthday Shabbat, highlighted with the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the Chazzan. Following Saturday morning Shabbat services, Rabbi held a Nosh and Drosh. That evening 46 women and men enjoyed the Annual Sisterhood Military Bridge/Chinese Auction. It was wonderful to see so many playing military bridge for the first time. On Sunday morning, the activities continued, as the Men’s Club sponsored Bima and Bagels. Over twenty ENJC members enjoyed breakfast at Bagel Boss after the Sunday morning services. That afternoon, the Sisterhood held a Challah Baking activity with an expert baking instructor.
The endless activities continued into the following week as well. On the 18th, Sisterhood polished the ladies’ nails at Gurwin, and ENJC’s Community Relations committee helped feed the homeless that afternoon through HIHI. On the 20th, we held our bi-monthly Tot Shabbat. Sisterhood held a Passover luncheon for the patients from Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital on March 22nd. And of course, there were numerous other activities and I did not even mention—all the usual monthly activities involving our youth groups.
My message is: Please get the most value from your membership! From attending services to enjoying something for you and/or your family, to giving back and helping others, ENJC is the place with something for everyone! Read More