During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we cast our sins in to the desert, freeing ourselves from their oppressive burden, unshackling our hearts and minds so that we can begin the year anew. Six months later another new year arrives (Exodus 12:12). After a period of enslavement we find ourselves once again loosening our chains and opening our souls, ready to reencounter that which we cast away.
In a world that bombards us with information from every side, it can be surprisingly difficult to find truth. This past weekend many Jews celebrated Shavuot, the holiday commemorating God giving the Israelites the Torah at Mt. Sinai. While I don’t believe this happened in the way it’s vividly described in chapters 19 and 20 of [...]
The end of the Counting of the Omer is nearly upon us. We have spent the past seven weeks eagerly, anxiously, perhaps, counting up to Shavuot–to receiving the Torah anew. Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, is one of the three pilgrimage festivals annually observed–the other two are Passover and Sukkot. Each of these festivals [...]
After the joyful Seders and family gatherings have ended and we have entered more deeply into the Passover holiday, I often feel jarred by the Counting of the Omer. Traditional Jews mark this time before Shavuot through abstinence: foregoing weddings, cutting one’s hair and even listening to music. Instead, they devote themselves to internal work [...]
We are walking now. Together, in the wilderness, walking. It’s hot, and dry. Sometimes there’s no water, or the water we find has a bitter taste. We haven’t always known where our next meal will come from. Some people wish we’d never left Egypt. There’s a lot of complaining. Some days are really hard.