This week, we celebrated the Jewish holiday called, Shavout. In our holiday prayers, we call this the ‘time we received our Torah.’
3,326 years ago this week, the newly-freed Jewish people gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai. There, G-d spoke—and changed the world.
At Sinai, G-d revealed His Torah. He revealed His Ten Commandments. He brought to the world a gift: Judaism.
Rav Gedaliah Meyer of Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel calls that day at Sinai, ‘the moment of Destiny for Israel—and the world’. It is the moment of Destiny for Israel because that is the moment the Jewish people became a nation with a distinct belief and a distinctive G-d. It is a moment of Destiny for the world because that moment at Sinai is the source of the law, morality and ethical codes that have underpinned Man’s greatest achievements for the last three thousand years.
It is from that Sinai moment that the world learned what it means to behave in a godly way towards both G-d and man. It is from that Sinai moment that we learned of right and wrong, justice, charity, service and love of others.
Sinai was not a private moment. It was not secret. It was public. It’s the only recorded public appearance of G-d in this world.
Sinai is the moment G-d chose the entire Jewish people to be His Holy vessel. It is the only moment in history when G-d spoke to an entire nation.
All religions have a starting point. Typically, that start begins with a singular individual experiencing an extraordinary vision. That moment is personal, private and intensely intimate.
That individual then goes out to the world to tell of his vision. The world listens. It responds. A religion is born.
Judaism is different. Judaism does not begin with one man having one moment of prophetic intimacy. Judaism does not begin with one who travels about telling of his G-d, collecting followers. Judaism begins with millions of people receiving a singular prophetic vision—at the same exact moment in the same exact place.
No other religion tells of such an extraordinary public event.
On Shavout, Jews around the world remember this moment of Destiny. We remember that it is our Destiny. It is what marks us as uniquely G-d’s Chosen.
On Shavout, we remember that on this day in Sivan 3,326 years ago, we were all prophets. On this day so long ago, we experienced G-d’s Presence. We heard His Voice.
That’s what makes us distinctive: we all heard G-d’s Voice.
Yes, we feared for our lives. But we stood together as one nation with one heart. We heard. We saw. We believed.
After that moment of Destiny, the Jewish people in the desert were beset with troubles. We were threatened, both from within—the complaint of malcontents, the spies, the rebellion of Korach—and from without—Balak, Bilaam, etc.
After Sinai, the weakest among us almost destroyed us. After Sinai, only G-d protected us.
Today, with Shavuot behind us, we have the same issues. Once again, our ability to survive is in question.
Once again, we have enemies within our midst who would provoke us to reject G-d. Once again, we see those who openly rebel against our G-d.
How do we survive these internal threats? Indeed, how do we survive our enemies’ threats?
How do we deal with a US administration that now openly endorses a rabidly Jew-hating Hamas? How do we survive the PLO goal to replace Israel with a Jew-free ‘Palestine’? How do we survive a UN endorsement of that goal?
We survive by learning from our past. We survive by learning how G-d is always true to us—if we are true to Him.
We survive by honouring the treasure that G-d gave us—His Torah. We survive by remembering that, after Sinai, despite our failings, G-d fulfilled His Promise: he brought us to the Promised Land.
Today after Sinai (Shavuot), we should remember that our survival upon the Promised Land depends once again upon our loyalty to our G-d. We should remember that G-d is true to us. Can we be true to Him?
After Sinai, the only way the Jewish people survive is through the Power of G-d. That was true 3,326 years ago. It was true in the Middle Ages. It’s true today.
The Jewish people do not survive by rejecting G-d. We do not survive by replacing G-d. We do not survive by scorning G-d.
After Sinai, there is only one way to survive. There is only one way to stay safe in our land.
We must be loyal to G-d.
That loyalty requires courage. Do you have that courage?
After Shavuot, that’s what’s next: to find the courage to stand up for G-d.
Do you have that courage?