Message for Shavuot
In a fast-paced world where technology ensures our needs are met instantaneously, Shavuot reminds us that there is joy in the build-up as well as the outcome, teaches the Chief Rabbi. A full transcript appears below.
The name given by the Torah to the festival of Shavuot is fascinating. Shavuot means ‘weeks’ and the name relates to the seven weeks which precede the festival. It’s like calling Shabbat ‘the week’, because the week precedes Shabbat. Or in a sporting context, it’s like calling the cup final the qualifying round, because through the qualifying round we reach the final.
So what’s the logic behind the name Shavuot? I like to suggest that in today’s creative and sophisticated era, we can understand this name all the more. And that’s because today in our times, at the press of a button, we can receive so much of our needs almost instantly.
And this has created in turn a mindset through which we crave for instant pleasure and gratification. Sometimes we lose touch with the importance of waiting, or anticipation. When the Israelites left Egypt, having been freed from Egyptian bondage, for seven whole weeks they knew that they were to receive the Torah, to have the privilege standing at Mount Sinai to experience the greatest day that has ever taken place on earth. It was because of that weight that ultimately the day became so special and so precious.
It’s from the title Shavuot that we learn an important lesson for our times, and that is it’s not just the destination that counts – the journey is important as well. And in fact its through the journey that the destination will be appreciated all the more.