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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

05/25/2023 05:00:29 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

Chag Shavuot Sameach! Tonight, we celebrate the festival of Shavuot. As you may know, Shavuot is the second of three harvest festivals we celebrate. We began with Pesach (Passover), we’ll have Shavuot tonight and tomorrow, and finally, we’ll reach the third festival this fall when we celebrate Sukkot. Shavuot is probably our least observed festival as it lacks a seder, a sukkah, and fun lulav shaking, but it is undoubtedly just as important. These three pilgrimage festivals likely played a much more significant role in the religious lives of our ancient ancestors in Temple times than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Though we tend to think of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as our most sacred religious observances, for our ancestors whose day-to-day lives relied on a successful harvest, we can understand how their religious emphasis may have been different. This fact, of course, should beg the question for us. How does our religious emphasis continue to change today? Where do we find the most meaning in our holy day celebrations? It is natural for these things to change for us as a Jewish community and as individuals. I hope that TBE is a place of spiritual and religious discovery for each of us. Yes, the synagogue must be a place of familiarity and comfort, but if it is only that, I think we have a responsibility to ask, how might our Judaism grow?

Along those lines, studying all night on Shavuot is a kabbalistic tradition. This year, the Ann Arbor Jewish community has organized an all-night study session, traditionally called Tikkun Leil Shavuot. It was instituted as a way of making sure Jews didn’t oversleep the reading of the Ten commandments the next morning in synagogue. We will begin this evening at Hillel at 8:00 pm with a panel discussion and then classes throughout the night. Please join us! And no, you don’t have to stay all night, stay as long as you like!

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784