Mintz: The meaning of Shavuot
Spring is in the air, and that means it’s Shavuot time. On June 5 and 6 we will celebrate the giving of the Torah, the Bible, at Mount Sinai. After hundreds of years under the Pharaoh’s tyrannical rule, Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt. Fifty days later, when they reached Mount Sinai, they were gifted a moral code, a guide for living that has been the foundation of positive human conduct ever since
The Midrash, oral Jewish tradition, tells us that when the Jews stood at Sinai, God asked them who would guarantee their observance of its 613 laws. The Jews offered up the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as the guarantors, hoping their piety would be enough for God. God didn’t accept. They offered up the incredible prophets and prophetesses of Judaism, figuring they’d be good enough for God. God said no. They said to God: “Our children will be our guarantors” and God accepted. God knew that if we are willing to teach our children the values embedded in his Torah, there would indeed be a reliable assurance that Sinai wouldn’t be just a great historic moment, but a living path for all who seek it for all eternity.
In the aftermath of the horrific murder at the Uvalde Elementary School in Texas, we ask ourselves: What can be done? Yes, we must have discussions about accessibility to weapons. Yes, we must discuss the violence on video games and TV. Yes, we must have frank chats about mental health treatment in our country.
Yet, we also must talk about a moment of silence. My mentor, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory, beseeched us in the 1980s to introduce a time each morning, in every school, private and public, in which each student can think about a higher power before starting their school day.
It isn’t a religious act; it’s a spiritual moment for every innocent American child to focus on something bigger, something brighter, something foundational and something inspiring. This will undoubtedly change the lives of our youth for the better. Florida recently mandated this in their state, and I pray that Colorado follows suit.
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Please join us at the Jewish Community Center for a Shavuot Dinner Party on Sunday, June 5, at 5:30 p.m. and let’s band together to ensure our future is bright and the Torah’s values are the foundation of our lives.
Rabbi Dovid Mintz directs Vail Chabad Jewish Center. He and his family live in Vail since 2006. He can be reached at info@JewishVail.com.