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Journeying to Shavuot

Dear Friends,

I am writing in the afterglow of our recent Pesach celebrations. Universally recognized as one of, if not the most embraced of our traditions, the rhythm and wisdom of Judaism insist that Passover, that leaving Egypt is not the endpoint, the climax of our story. Rather, the goal of our journey is to arrive at and then to carry out the mission entrusted to us at Mount Sinai. Put simply, the heart of Passover is to take us to Shavuot.

And while it is relatively easy to celebrate freedom, the responsibilities that come with it are often less compelling. There is something in us that cherishes "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But we should note that Jewish tradition has another constitutional framework to offer. Stated in parallel form, it might go something like life (which for much of Jewish history did not come with guarantees), liberty (which often was a rare experience) and - here the "deviation" – the pursuit of obligations.

For Jewish tradition urges and insists that we have a wonderful responsibility to embrace and express the sacred dimension in life, or to use the more commonly invoked refrain, we have obligations to God. And the marvelous addendum to that conviction is that we fulfill that duty best in how we treat each other. Or as Martin Buber reminds us, "It is in relationship with each other that we meet the power behind all relationships."


Michael Zedek

Rabbi Emeritus


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