Shavuot & Pluralism

This week we celebrate the giving of Torah at Sinai, and it’s traditional to study Torah all night in celebration.  I’ll just make a start here and get some sleep.

The portion this week is B’Midbar, and in it we read about the various tribes of Israelites  arrayed around the Tabernacle.  Each tribe has an assigned place, with the Tabernacle in the center.  It occurs to me that if the physical representation of holiness is in the center, with all the people circled around it, each individual has equal access to the center.  Each of the tribes — each of us — has the right to call G-d his or her own, and each of us is right, individually and collectively.  Those who see the Tabernacle from the east will see it in a certain light, while those who see it from the north will see it differently.  From every vantage point, the holy center is available, and from every vantage point it looks different.

In Deuteronomy 30:14 (Nitzavim) we read that the Word, “is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.”  The voice of G-d is audible to us all, and it is located in our hearts.  And when we are lined up, tuned to the right frequency, we can observe the commandments, each of us within the bounds of his or her conscience.  The commandment is not beyond reach but in our hearts.  Go and learn it.

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