CLAL Holy Days
Welcome to CLAL Holy Days, the place where you will find the latest thoughts and reflections by CLAL faculty and associates on upcoming Jewish holidays.
Studying Together on Shavuot
If we say "I was a slave in Egypt" during Passover, shouldnt we say be saying "I was free at the foot of Sinai" on Shavuot? For on Shavuot, we celebrate the moment when we stood at Sinai and became a people. Just as the Passover seder allows us to experience slavery and freedom together, studying together with Jews from diverse communities on the eve of Shavuot allows us to reenact the time we all stood at the foot of the mountain In sacred conversation, we challenge each other to see our ancient text anew. We celebrate our unity by asking the questions we cant answer alone.
Invite friends of diverse Jewish experiences and backgrounds to study together on or in preparation for Shavuot. This tradition evening of study is called a tikkun leil Shavuot.
Consider the following text, ancient in origin but contemporary in its relevance, as a starting point for discussion. In a small group, or with a partner, read aloud this description of the experience at Sinai from a classic medieval commentary.
Ask each other: How do we relate our lives to this text?
It may help to recall a moment in your own life when you "tasted" or understood a deep truth with your fullest capacity. What happened? What did you understand? How did this moment change you? Share your responses to these questions in your conversations.
Return to Sinai. At Sinai, we had an experience that was both personal and shared.
Ask as part of your conversation: How do our contemporary stories unify us?
What, on their deepest level, do our experiences have in common?
(Before you study)
Barukh ata Adonai eloheinu melekh haolam, asher kidshanu bmitzvotav vitzianu laasok bdivrei torah.
Praised are You, Source of all, who makes our lives holy through mitzvot and calls us to study Torah together.
May the words of Torah be pleasing to us and to CLAL Yisrael. May we and all who come after us know You with delight by studying Torah together. (adapted from BT: Brakhot 11b)
"Why are the words of Torah like fire? A fire is built by many logs and the words of Torah survive only through many minds." (adapted from Talmud, Taanit 7)
When ten people study Torah together, the Divine Presence hovers over them.
To join the conversation at CLAL Holy Days Talk, click here.
To access ARCHIVED HOLY DAY COMMENTARIES, click here.