12 Torah Tweets
Shavuot teaching: in your face!

Standing again at Sinai

My shul and the shul up the road joined forces again to spend Shavuot together, singing and noshing and learning well into the night. This year we had nine lessons on tap:

  • The many faces of Torah - Rabbi Pam Wax

  • Maimonides and Jewish teachings on saving a life - Bill

  • Akdamut and Sacred Melodies - Cantor Lisa Arbisser

  • The changing meaning of the land of Israel in Jewish thought - Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser

  • A philosophical lesson on the akedah - Jesse

  • The Music and Poetry of the Book of Psalms - Cantor Bob Scherr

  • A lesson on Brit Milah - Joan

  • Water and Revelation: Let's Go Down to the River to Pray - Rabbi Joshua Boettiger

  • Seeing the Aleph at Sinai (a.k.a. "In Your Face!") - me

(As in years past, when lessons are taught by congregants I'm listing them by first name only, in case anyone has privacy concerns. Clergy who teach lessons get whole names, since I figure our names tend to be pretty public anyway.)

I'll post my own lesson momentarily, in case anyone's curious; it's a gorgeous text and I was delighted to be able to teach it! In a happy coincidence, I exchanged email recently with a leader from a synagogue in Buenos Aires, and sent him both the Hebrew text and my English translation, so I think this same text was taught in BA on Shavuot eve, too. What a delightfully small world it is sometimes.

Our tikkun wrapped up around 3ish, and by the time we were through with our brief closing ceremony (passing the Torah from person to person, each cradling her for a time, and then reciting a kaddish d'rabanan to seal our study) it was 3:30. The rational thing to do would have been to come home, but some of the Bennington folks were planning to last all night and urged me to join them! So I drove up to Bennington with them and settled into Vi's lovely home (all bright colors and artwork everywhere) and we talked about our Omer journeys and then listened to the last of Reb Nachman's Seven Beggars folktales. And by the time that ended, the sky was lightening and it was dawn.

It's been years since I've actually stayed up all night on Shavuot; I expect I'll regret it later today, at least physically. But there is something amazing and unique about the feeling of learning Torah all night, opening myself to the insights which arise in new ways in the dark, especially knowing that so many others around the world were doing the very same thing. Chag sameach, everyone -- I hope your holiday is sweet.

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