It finally happened. We were driving home from running an errand and my 7-year-old daughter was in the back seat of the car. It was a 20-minute drive and she didn't stop asking questions for a minute. In the breathless spirit of the young and curious, she only paused to tell me she wanted to say something – and the questions kept coming. Then, there were some big questions to which I admittedly did not have the answers.
Still, I considered the timing ideal on two levels. First, we were getting ready to take a trip to visit my parents so I told her, “How perfect. Now you can ask Abuelo [Spanish for ‘Grandpa’]; he knows everything.” Second, we were headed into the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. To most, it's not a well-known Jewish holiday, but it's truly very special. It would be the perfect opportunity for my daughter to ask her questions and to explore the answers.
When I think about what I love about being Jewish and being part of the Jewish community, I think of Limmud, our shared value of learning. How fortunate that we were about to embark upon Shavuot, a festival holiday celebrating when the Israelites were given the words of the Torah at the top of Mount Sinai. In modern times, it is custom to eat dairy foods because Jewish tradition compares the words of Torah to the sweetness of milk and honey. Many also spend time studying and reading. Learning.
Indeed, the words of Torah are precious. All words can be. Words can lift us, they can take us down, and they can inspire. Words, like Torah, can be the ultimate gift. From them we learn, we express ourselves, and we connect.
So, as you head into Shabbat, even though we have passed Shavuot, remember that we are the people of the book, of the Torah. Take every moment you can to ask questions and to learn.
P.S. Earlier this week we also celebrated Memorial Day, remembering those who died in service to our country. One way to honor their memories is to thank all who are currently serving in our Armed Forces. There’s arguably no better way to do just that than Tikkun 4 Troops, a project of NextGen OC (our young adult division). Next Sunday, June 11, NextGen is collaborating with Operation Gratitude and JCC Cares to assemble 5,000 care packages for active duty troops serving abroad. It is a project that literally embodies the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam (acts of kindness to repair the world). You can learn more about volunteering here and donate items via our Amazon Wish List here.
Jewish Federation & Family Services