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    Shver tzu zein Shavuot

    Revelation at Sinai, painting by Zely Smekhov

    People say it’s hard to be a Jew – shver tzu zein a Yid. It’s also hard to be Shavu’ot.

    Everybody loves Pesach and Sukkot, Chanukah and Purim, with their colour and charm.

    Somehow Shavu’ot is different. Few people have much of a feeling for it. The cheesecake does little to redeem the occasion. Yet it is really the most inspiring of all the festivals.

    It marks the Revelation on Mount Sinai when God proclaims the Torah and gives Israel an agenda – both negative (“Sinai” is from sinah, the enmity between God and the idols) and positive (the gematria of Sinai is sulam, a ladder, representing the human ascent to God).

    In modern Judaism there has been a theological dispute about Revelation. Did God give the Torah or did human beings arrive at it?

    The traditional answer is that the Almighty offered the Commandments to Israel and they accepted the offer and assured Him that they would observe and obey it.

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