Friday, June 10, 2016
Shavuot-Intimations of Gratitude
Why Shavuot? The conventional answer lies in the Scriptural passage that reads:..."then you shall observe the Feast of Weeks....." Deut.16:10. The word Shavuot contains the words for "week,"-SHAVUA, "seven"-SHEVAH- and "oath," - SHEVUAH. Seven weeks after the Passover, the feast is celebrated as a harvest festival-"you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord." Lev.23:16. As the traditional time of the Giving of the Torah, we re-enact the posture of our ancestors at Sinai by pledging ourselves-taking a renewed oath-to receive the Torah and follow its teachings.
As a seeker of the spiritual dimension of gratitude, I would like to suggest a different interpretation of the meaning of Shavuot by analyzing the festival's name from another perspective.
Examining the root of Shavuot, we discover the following consonants: SH-V-AH-ש-ב-ע: These three letters spell a different word if the "sh" consonant is changed to a "s"-we then have before us a word whose meaning is "satisfaction"-SOVAH!
Shavuot is referred to in the talmud as ATZERET- the festival of culmination, completing a process of redemption begun on Passover. This process reaches its peak with Revelation on Shavuot. Thus, I suggest that the Festival of "Satisfaction"-gratefulness- becomes a time when we re-encounter the spiritual truth of gratitude as a source of joy, celebration and wisdom. Torah as enlightenment embraces the wisdom of recognizing the gift of blessings bestowed upon us and experiencing the gratitude that flows from this revelation.
It is my hope that we all be blessed with the capacity to reach the peak of Sinai in our embrace of gratitude's serenity and joy.