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The Gift of Torah
Mom with a View

The Gift of Torah

Shavuot is all about appreciating.


Shavuot is a difficult holiday. It is of utmost importance since it commemorates the giving of the Torah, yet it has so few rituals associated with it (unless you count eating cheesecake which I happen to do very well!) that it’s hard to stay focused.

In fact, the only other significant custom is to stay up all night learning in anticipation of receiving the Torah -- but I’ve long been way too old and tired for that!

So what do I concentrate on? How can I make the most of this holiday before I fall into a sugar-induced stupor brought on by the excessive quantity of cheesecake consumed?

I think, perhaps for me, the key is appreciation. What makes the giving of the Torah so crucial is the recognition of what it means to us, individually and as a people; the understanding of all the wonderful ways in which it positively impacts our lives.

When I put down my fork (did you try the chocolate truffle one?), I can sit back and think about the gifts which a life of Torah imbues. I can think about the sense of meaning and purpose. I can think about the intellectual pleasure of grappling with ideas. I can think about the excitement of really working on oneself and trying to grow. I can contemplate the stimulation involved in sharing these ideas with others. I can think of the myriad kindnesses I have received through membership in the Jewish people and the ways in which I have been privileged to help others. I can think about the power and beauty of Shabbos. I can focus on the unique, almost painful, joy of raising children who will also know the Torah and follow its ways or the special wisdom involved in building a Jewish home and marriage.

I can be appreciative. And grateful, very grateful.

Maybe that’s why there are so few external customs on Shavuot. The work is internal. It’s a time to introspect and examine who we are and what this gift has done for us. (Oh, and did I mention the cheesecake?)

It’s a time of real, heartfelt appreciation. Maybe I could stay up all night after all! (Or at least past 10…)

May 15, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, May 18, 2010 4:25 PM

Just what i need !

There are times when you need alittle reminder of what things really are about and appreciation is the exact word to express what we should feel in that day.

(4) Robin, May 18, 2010 3:41 AM

Thank You!

Thank you! This expresses so beautifully what I feel and what I needed to hear at this time.

(3) Pleasant, May 18, 2010 2:43 AM

Appreciation is right.

Thank you for this one. There are too many of my fellow jews I see at temple who take this all as a 'tradition'. They take for granted having been raised with everything right before them and never having to find it all and put it back together as I did. They do not truly understand how blessed they are.

(2) ruth, May 17, 2010 8:24 PM

the cheesecake factory

It's certainly true that there are metaphoric connects between what we digest, as food, and how we digest information and in this case, deep ethical ways of being through understanding Torah. I think we all need to find what's sweet in life, whether in our reading or the titillation of our taste buds. Thank God for cheesecake, and Torah!

(1) Anonymous, May 17, 2010 8:12 AM

Torah The Gift To The World

The Torah has influence the whole world every since it has been given to us. It has made the world a better place and a safer place. I know it may not appear as so but look at how worse it would of been without it. It has given us a code of morals; if we all applied then it would be a perfert world. So many even from other religions come to the table to eat from the Torah. It's a square meal that satisfies. That speaks volumns. So many from other religions visit this site to be fed. If their religion was satisfying them they wouldn't be looking for food somewhere else. Yes there is much to be thankful for. The Torah feeds the spiritual hungry, is a home for the spiritual homeless, clothing them with righteousness and readiness for the world to come. It's worth seeing a new day dawning.

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