As Shabbat and Shavuot approach, I wanted to share a quick Hasidic teaching recounted by the great philosopher, Martin Buber.
REVELATION EVERYDAY: The Kotzker Rebbe was asked: ”Why is Shavuot called (z’man matan Torah) ‘The Time that the Torah was Given,’ rather than ‘The time the Torah was Received?” He answered: “The giving took place on one day, but the receiving takes place at all times.” (Martin Buber Tales of Hasidim)
What I find meaningful in the Kotzker Rebbe’s teaching is the idea of the ongoing opportunity and need to take Torah to heart. Not necessarily “The Torah” but Torah more generally understood as the ethical, spiritual, and cultural inheritance of the Jewish People.
I think that Jews and Judaism have a greater role to play in the betterment of society than ever before. I feel like the ethical teachings of Torah and Jewish tradition, the prophetic tradition of speaking truth to power, the belief that there are facts and truths and right ways of acting and living ones life– that these claims and perspectives need to be a part of the collective conversation.
The more reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate people who are able to be ambassadors of Judaism’s vision of a peaceful and just world, the better.
Speaking personally, and as a rabbi, there are days when I feel like I actively “receive” Torah and days when I don’t, due to the many demands, claims, and commitments that fill my days.
This Shavuot I will be thinking about how I can be a more engaged and active recipient of Torah and how I can help bring the important insights and unique worldview of Judaism into places where it is desperately needed.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Shavuot: Receiving Torah