Editorial 05/14/10

When we mark Shavuot next week, we will once again hear Aseret haDibrot, God’s 10 utterances or 10 Commandments, read from the Torah.

On most occasions, we stand from the time the Torah is taken from the ark until it is placed on the pulpit from which it will be read. But Shavuot is different. On Shavuot, however, we remain standing throughout the reading.

Why? Because on Shavuot, we are not just hearing Torah read. On Shavuot, we are transported back through time and across the sea. On Shavuot, we are standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai with our ancestors and our great, great, great grandchildren, and together, as one people throughout the generations we are hearing and accepting God’s words.

And it is not just Aseret haDibrot which we accept, but the entire Torah. And, indeed, the definition of Torah can be construed wide enough to encompass Torah commentary as well.
The words may be ancient, but if we let them, they can be as fresh, inspiring and meaningful for us today as they were when they were first uttered at Sinai.

That’s the premise from which our 2010 Goldstein/Leibson Scholar-in-Residence, Rabbi Norman Cohen, will work when he address “How the Bible Can Help Me in My Struggles as a Parent and as a Child” on Monday night, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center.

But it goes beyond that. Indeed we can find applications for the lessons of Torah all around us.

In this issue of Community, our friends from the Pakistani Physician’s group in Kentucky are confronting the reality that the failed bombing attempt in Times Square was perpetrated by a man of Pakistani origin. Their message: this man does not represent them. They find his actions reprehensible and do not want to be judged by what he did.

Torah’s message parallels their plea. We are instructed to judge each person equitably on his or her own merits.

This year has been a rebuilding year for our Jewish Community of Louisville. There are two principles from Pirkei Avot that speak directly to us regarding our Jewish community: Al tifrosh min hatzibor – do not separate yourself from the community; and Lo alecha ham’lacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben horin l’ivatel mimena – it is not your responsibility to finish the work of repairing the world, but neither are you free to refrain from doing your part.

These principles call upon each one of us to be part of the community working together for the best interests of us all. Julie Temes Ellis and Jeff Tuvlin, our 2010 Young Leadership Award winners understand and have been leading us by example. Many others have joined them as we strive to create the best JCL we can so we can provide for our children and our children’s children.

So this Shavuot, allow yourself to be transported. Together we will stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai to hear and accept God’s utterances. And together, let’s commit to continue to come together to continue the community building work we have begun.

Leave a Reply