We are approaching Shavuot, Z’man Matan Torateynu, the time of giving of the Torah. Ever wonder why we don’t celebrate Simchat Torah on Shavuot? Because Simchat Torah is when we finish the annual cycle of readings? Good answer, but wrong. We could start the cycle anytime—including Shavuot and then we would finish on Shavuot too. The rabbis tell us that there are two types of gifts: one where the gift has intrinsic value and one where the gift has value because of who gave it. The Torah has both components. We use Shavuot to celebrate the incredible intrinsic value of the Torah and the fact that it makes us who we are as a people. We use Simchat Torah to celebrate the gift of Torah because of who gave it to us. Just as God is the giver of life and we have survived another year, God has given us the Torah because of God’s awesome love for us. We love the gifts our parents give us, but we love the gifts because they represent our parents love for us. So too is God and Torah.
Bechukotai is always read soon before Shavuot. We study the Torah late into the night before. God tells us in this week’s Parasha, from Sinai, that if we spend time learning Torah and we learn with the intention of being able to observe mitzvoth AND we do perform mitzvoth, we will be blessed. How wonderful that there are so many opportunities to learn in our community and achieve blessings. How wonderful that we are blessed with so many wonderful teachers.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Rachel Shere. 10:00 a.m. in the Youth Lounge. Come as you are and be blessed with us. It is a pretty good feeling.
Speaking of the blessing of teachers, we need to be grateful for the premier educational institution that has provided so many great rabbis, cantors and educators in our community, the Jewish Theological Seminary. The Annual Dinner is scheduled for 5:30 pm Monday, June 4, 2012 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield. Our Adat Shalom honorees this year are Jeffrey and Debra Supowit who will also be recognized from our Bimah Saturday which is Seminary Shabbat at Adat Shalom. The couvert is $180 per person with special rates available for those 40 years and younger, $118 or students, $54. RSVP online at http://www.jtsa.edu/DetroitDinner2012 or by calling 248-258-0055. Special Tribute Journal opportunities can be found online. Act on the mitzvah of tzedekah.
This year’s program, “Who Wants to be a JTS Maven” will feature a special “Jeopardy” like quiz bowl with JTS alumni competing for the title of “JTS Maven”. Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Dean of the JTS Rabbinical School will bring greetings from New York.
Our own Stuart Logan, is the Community Wide Dinner chair and last year’s honorees, Jeffrey and Joyce Weingarten are our Adat Shalom Committee Chairs. JTS does so much good for us, we must support its vitality and growth.