We're approaching Shavuot, one of the three major pilgrimage festivals in the Torah along with Pesach and Sukkot. In addition to being the first harvest festival, the holiday also commemorates the giving of the Torah at Sinai. In synagogues throughout the world, the Ten "Words" or "Principles" are chanted. The congregation stands. Christianity calls this the day of receiving the Holy Spirit, Pentacost. This year, these major holidays coincide with Ramadan.
Sadly, these holidays of the Spirit have been challenged with troubling darkness. The Ten "Commandments" has been further desecrated. We see this increasingly around the world and, now, most visibly in Israel and Gaza. The very first statement, "I am your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, the House of Bondage" has been desecrated by Israel and other governments by the imprisonment of the Gazan People.
"You shall honor your father and mother." Our ancestors received a Torah of values about compassion and justice. Our prophets and sages transmitted these teachings to the generations. Today, we are not honoring our ancestors. "You shall not murder." Two days ago it was reported that at least 60 Gazans died and over 2000 Gazan men, women and children were wounded. This is self-defense? Many argue that it is the intent of many supporters of Hamas to destroy Israel.
How much can both peoples endure? How can young IDF soldiers find meaning in these actions? How can Palestinians continue to live under a Hamas leadership that nurtures violence? The Jewish diaspora is increasingly alienated from the policies of the Israeli government. Where is the will from both sides and from others in the region to resolve this?
While we are sad and angered by what we hear and see, we must join with others who seek peace and justice. We must continue to honor our heritage and our value culture. Come for Shabbes. Certainly, come to Sanctuary this Sunday for our Shavuot Fest. B'Shalom Reb David