Last night, our friend Sol came to visit. He showed us a sefer Torah, a Torah scroll, he commissioned several years ago. Originally from Munkacs, Sol was transported to Auschwitz where over one hundred members of his family were gassed, shot, hung, and tortured to death. Starving and racked with disease, Sol fasted on Yom Kippur. This, he told me, was a conscious act of defiance aginst the Germans. This rebellion made Sol feel like a free man. For the faithful Jew, Torah and mitzvot, are the means by which liberty is experienced.
The holiday of Shavuot begins to tonight.
Shavuot is a holiday in which we celebrate:
1. The giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.
2. The harvesting of wheat in Israel.
3. The ripening of the first fruit in the land of Israel.
In a sense, Shavuot provides a resolution to the holiday of Passover.
On Passover, the Jewish people were freed from slavery.
And on Shavuot the Jewish people, as freed slaves, were given liberty when G-d transmitted the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai.
Freedom for the Jewish people, first and foremost, means accepting and living the moral code transmitted by G-d through the written and oral Torah.
Indeed, the Ten Commandments are not only the foundation of Judaism but the basis of moral law for all civilized nations.
Perhaps this is the reason Jews have been persecuted for so long. The world has never forgiven our gift of ethical standards, our love of goodness and—
—and the mitzvah to hate evil.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a happy and joyous Shavuot. We will be offline until Friday.