You don’t have to sign up. Whether or not you put away your car keys and smartphone and keyboard and tv and credit car, you will still have access to it. It doesn’t matter if you cover your hair or leave it flying in the wind, whether you pray three times a day or never get around to it, whether you have a beard or you can’t get enough cheeseburgers, whether you believe in “God” or not. It certainly doesn’t matter if you’re not Jewish, this energy is open for all.
Even if you’re forced to observe this Chag in a bomb shelter this year because Hamas is lobbing rockets indiscriminately at civilians here in Israel, you’re still (maybe especially) part of the experience. The Torah transcends current events, even if they contribute to the greater reality Torah encompasses.
We don’t celebrate Shavuot to commemorate receiving the Torah more than 3300 years ago. Rather, we received the Torah that year, specifically on this day, because it was Shavuot! That energy had been entering the world on that day since Creation, just as it continues to every year on this day, including this one. And although only we, Am Yisrael, the Jewish People accepted it that time, it was available to all the nations, just as it remains today. In fact, shortly after this, Yitro, the high priest of Midian arrived shortly after to the camp of Am Yisrael to celebrate both our escape from the slavery of Mitzrayim and also to celebrate the receiving of Torah.
This Torah we celebrate is much more that a set of rules which only the Jewish People are obligated to keep. It’s more than the stories of our ancestors, our journeys, our triumphs and our exiles. The Written Torah, Tanach, begins at the beginning, literally, In the Beginning, the Big Bang itself, and concludes in a wild rush of praise to be found in dance, in music, in cymbals and drums, a call for every soul, every breath (Kol Haneshama) to join together celebrating all existence. (And when you delve deeper you learn that beneath the surface this Torah embodies the very name of The Creator, is a map of the Universe, an operating manual for life on earth, and much much more.)
In case we don’t get the idea, we learn that David HaMelech, King David, the author of Tehillim, the Psalms (which conclude the Written Torah just summarized) was born on this day–Our Musician/Poet King, filled with Inspiration and Creativity, came into the world on just this day. Further, we traditionally read Megillat Ruth, the story of Ruth, the quintessential convert to Judaism, a woman motivated by love and loyalty, who is to become David HaMelech’s great-grandmother, is chanted (in one of the most beautiful melodies of the entire liturgy) on this day. And remember, David HaMelech will have a descendant who will usher in an era of eternal peace (we call him Mashiach (Messiah).
For those around my age who’ll get the reference, Shavuot is the original celebration of Love and Peace (and music, too).
Are you ready? It will arrive whether you’re aware or not, but all it takes to enjoy it is to be aware. Perhaps next time you’ll want to take a more active part–you can if you want. But the Infinite Energy of Torah will once again make its entrance in just a few hours.
Can your heart take it? “Can your heart welcome it?” is more like it.
Chag Shavuot Sameach.