Here we are but a few days away from Shavuot. Shavuot is one of our major festivals, commemorating the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. While being a moral and spiritual way of life for the Jewish people, the Torah also includes laws (commandments) directed at all humanity; laws concerning our quest to make this a humane and merciful world where we live together in peace.
Shavuot embodies our hopes for a safer and kinder world; a world in which we human beings become enlightened to the degree that we recognize and respect all that unites us, and commit ourselves to eliminating those human plagues that bring pain, suffering and death upon one another.
Shavuot is a hopeful time, just as Judaism is a hopeful religion. Still we look at the cup as being half full, and we declare L’chayim–“to life!” And yet, we dare not ignore that these are troubling times. Just recently, we learned of two Jewish young men being attacked outside a Paris synagogue. And days before that, there was the deadly shooting at the Jewish museum in Belgium. Also, there was a vicious attack upon two Jewish men in northern Turkey just last week.
Yes, it is painful to be reminded of the hatred that still fills the depraved hearts of some people toward Jews. But so also is it painful to realize that we live in a world in which so many people are able to close their eyes and their hearts to the suffering of their fellow human beings. It is true: “all that evil needs to prevail is for good people to do nothing!”
Shavuot is a hopeful time, and tonight we will celebrate the Confirmation of eighteen of our teenagers. Please come hear them speak of their thoughts and visions for our world. Join them as they embrace our Torah and pledge to do their part toward making this a kinder and more humane world for all people. For all of us, this is a time of being an eternally burning flame of hope and promise.
Rabbi David Greenberg