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The Chief Rabbi’s D’var Torah for Shavuot and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

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There is a strong connection between the festival of Shavuot and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. On the festival, for our Torah reading, we will read from Parshat Yitro about the preparations that were made for zman matan Torateinu, that greatest day that has ever taken place on earth, when the Torah was given to us. Hashem issued an instruction: for three whole days, no-one was to approach the mountain. And then, once the three days were over and the Torah had been given, a signal was to be issued: From this moment onwards you can approach.

The Torah says (Shemot 19:13), “bimshoch hayovel, heima ya’alu bahar.” – “Once the yovel (which is the shofar) had been sounded, the nation could ascend the mountain. The word yovel, meaning jubilee, is actually taken from a word which means shofar, and of course we are familiar with the fact that at the conclusion of the jubilee year the shofar would be sounded on the festival of Yom Kippur. So what we find therefore is that with the sounding of the shofar, the nation could move forwards and upwards.  

This is surely a message for us relating to the festival of Shavuot. It’s going to be glorious; we will enjoy the deep study of Torah and all the festivities, but as we well know, the value of the special occasion is primarily measured with regard to its follow up – what it does for us, the inspiration it gives to us. Therefore, with the conclusion of Shavuot, ‘heima ya’alu bahar’ – hopefully we will all move forwards and upwards.

The same can be said with regard to the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. Over this coming weekend, we will be celebrating and we will be remembering. We will be celebrating the truly outstanding achievements and accomplishments of Her Majesty and we will be remembering seventy glorious years of leadership, but I believe there’s something else that we should be doing. We should be utilising this Jubilee experience for the sake of the future of our society and through concentrating on the admirable qualities of Her Majesty, her humility, her sense of duty, the service that she gives to the nation, her selflessness, together with the way in which her faith has empowered her throughout her life, we need to take those qualities, to embody them and to use them as a nation to move forwards and upwards to guarantee that ‘bimshoch hayovel’, once this Jubilee celebration is over, ‘heima yaalu bahar’, we as a society will move forwards in a most wonderful way.

Let’s have a great celebration in honour of Her Majesty the Queen and I wish you all shabbat shalom and chag sameach.

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