Soon the holiday of Shavuot will arrive, a time known for when God delivered the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai. There is a fundamental question that must be asked about this holiday that can shed light on the document of the Torah to which most religions are founded upon.
The question is as follows. Why is there no symbolic ceremony to commemorate the gargantuan event of the revelation at Sinai similar to the other main festivals of Passover and Sukkot, that have the matzah and booths respectively?
To answer this question, another question must be asked. There is a 49-day count from the second day of Passover until Shavuot known as the Omer counting. Why the specific numeric linkage between Passover and Shavuot?
In answering the second question we can answer the first and thus shed light on the most creative document to date, the Torah.
The linkage between Passover and Shavuot is subtle yet profound. On the eve of the Seder, a famous passage is recited, that is: “In every generation, a Jew must envision himself as if he left Egypt.” This means to say that a Jew must feel an existential yearly freedom from any kind of bondage year in and year out. Shavuot, as well, is a holiday of the present, symbolic of a Torah that’s renewing itself on a “daily” basis; as the Zohar says, the Torah is given anew every day.
Thus, on Shavuot there is no “ritualistic or symbolic remembrance in place” because there is no “new” giving of the Torah (though Shavuot was unique as on that day in history God silenced all outside noise in the world so that only the Sinaic experience would be heard).
A further Zohar sheds light on the freshness of Torah. He says there were 600,000 souls at Sinai and there are 600,000 letters in Scripture. And my cousin from Otniel postulates that as each Jew changes and evolves in this world, so does his letter. This means 600,000 letters that comprise the Torah are changing and evolving on a 24-hour basis. The Torah is a fluid document that only deepens.
The global reach of the Torah is all-encompassing. It’s known that there are 70 nations in the world and we are told there are 70 faces to the Torah. Indeed, every nation is represented as well in the Torah. This is a document of mankind. Seventy also relates to the natural cycle of man and the amount of water, the life-sustaining force that covers the earth, at 71 percent.
We hope that mankind evolves with this creative document to reach peace with each other so that we may look forward to and experience the prophecy of Isaiah (11:6), who foretells: “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together…”
By Steven Genack
Steven Genack is the author of the upcoming book “Articles, Anectodes & Insights, Genack/Genechovsky Torah” from Gefen Press.