Shavuot: A Holiday Without Rituals, by Rabbi Shimon Murciano 


In pastoral Israel, Shavuot was celebrated as –Chag Hakatzir– an agricultural festival. It was the season when we brought an offering of the first produce of the field and orchard as a thanksgiving to the Almighty for his bounty. Today Shavuot is primarily celebrated as the great occasion on the Jewish calendar as it commemorates –Z’man Mattan Toratenu— the giving of the Tora to Israel, on Mount Sinai over 3000 years ago. It has been estimated that since the Tora was given, mankind has passed millions of laws in order to enforce the laws contained in the—Aseret Hadibrot-the Ten Commandments . The exact number is not significant; what is significant is man’s struggle to live a good life inspired by Divine Commandments.

Consciously or unconsciously, great thinkers of the past based their doctrines on ideas expressed in the Aseret Hadibrot . But in the process, people have forgotten the source, and began to think of the content of those commandments as the product of earlier civilizations or legislators. Civil laws concerning human relationships are poor substitutes for the biblical commandments. Today’s society has neither outgrown the Ten Commandments nor has it reached a point where they are no longer needed. Daily events prove not only that the world needs them but that the world accepts them as guiding principles in everyday life.

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