Leah’s Blog – Shavuot 2023 Breaking Bread
Leah’s Blog – Shavuot May 2023 Breaking Bread
In this Torah teaching I will attempt to break down what Shavuot and submission (מידת המלכות) have in common- auspicious for this chag.
King David’s Psalm (23:5) “You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies” recited by millions never really hit home till ding ding ding like the winner of a pinball game, I scored this week. I take this land personally. Things that happen to us here as we walk down a street with graffiti and rap music resounding in the background are only one layer of your life in it with many layers of time and history embedded and nothing happens just by chance. Shards of different realities hit you, all you need to do is look deeper, look beyond the surface. Although I wear a fancy hat when I go into urban Israel as opposed to my “settler look” scarf, they can pick me out in a second. It must be the air I breathe, the vibe I give off, I don’t know… Two well dressed women attacked me verbally near the mall in Ramat Gan this week. For those of you who have been following this blog for years know this is not the first time. It was a mere act of baseless hatred, nothing instigated it. You may ask- were you in Skokie Illinois, were you at a Kayne West press conference, were you at the U.N??? No No No to all of those. I even deliberated calling Simon Wiesenthal but quickly recalled Hey! You’re in Israel! After my encounter with this duo telling me gruffly to go back to Huwara, I, on instinct boldly sang the entire song of “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who to the chagrin of my daughter who refused to be a duet with me even though she is the one with the blue eyes (who also received stares of hate despite her blatant look of jeans and no head covering at all. So maybe it wasn’t what we were wearing after all. Hmmmmm…) The new trend – fringe people have made it their mission to barrage and play the offensive to any person or thing that shows Judaism in their persona. Again, I’m telling you I made no effort to do so. After finishing “Behind blue Eyes” one of the pair kind of gave me a kind look, the other rushed away. Maybe shocked that such a woman as myself would and could actually sing a rock song from the seventies. Maybe don’t judge every book by its cover! I’m so happy Moshe wasn’t there- he doesn’t like when I sing in public.
I’ve been thinking about these days. On Pesach we are as thin as matzoh- something about the whole message of being a slave and being in humility. That story starts and ends with Yosef HaTzaddik who submitted to the act of baseless hatred which brought him to Mitzrayim and was taken out from there on the last second of the final plague. Pesach is about humble your self -pride. Shavuot is about the two breads offered in the Temple at the time we commemorate the standing at Sinai “כאיש אחד בלב אחד” Like one man with one heart. Shavuot is one of the only times leavened bread is actually eaten in the Temple (the showbreads were matzohs) Shavuot is the holiday of King David- his birthday and yartziet on this day. It goes way beyond even the time designated to light a candle for him but to remember his story- also one of anguish from the day he was born until the day he passed. (Tehillim 69:2) “For those that hate me for no reason are more numerous than the hairs on my head”. He showed throughout his life compassion to all from the sheep, to Shaul who tried to even kill him, towards all his fellow men. “I was strange to my brothers, alien to my mother’s sons” (Tehillim 69:6) Hashem’s ways are hidden. The veil of darkness covers the light and only when the right time comes is it revealed. Things on an “ordinary” day to day basis seem to mortal man pragmatic- status quo, we like to say. Stuff happens, to them- to us. Yet, underneath these hard stories of Yosef and David- the Kings of Israel- the crowning of sovereignty is just close by. The personas in these stories could have turned back but they persisted in submission because their characters were shaped and molded from difficult life experiences. The maximum strength of Mashiach Ben David illuminates on Shavuot when repair is made in unity. In the Yosef story- his brothers break BREAD with him at a TABLE- there he is revealed. In the David story- a table is set up before the enemies- the table of the eventual Temple where the two breads are offered up in what was once a threshing floor. The Temple Mount represents a place where the wheat is beat, separated and sifted, like Yosef and David were. Tread upon by their own brothers, yet ultimately having the bread in unity at the table. The ultimate warrior brings sovereignty back to the Land as he submits to baseless hatred of his own family, of his own friends. Holding up a mirror to the two mountains of the Gerizzim and Eval, the double portion- the two breads, the field of the Temple Mount parallels the two Temples that were destroyed because of baseless hatred within our people which ultimately brought Rome to destroy and Edom to rule until such a time. Shavuot has us here in Israel celebrating an agricultural holiday. After two thousand years of banishment from our land, like no other people Shavuot coincides with the great event of eating at our tables the bounty of the Land and the return to her territory. This is a time of great thanksgiving for us, time of miracles and pride. I’m proud of who I am, where I live, and the values the Torah governs me in. Yes, there is squabbling here, even baseless hatred but we are all celebrating Shavuot here in the Land, eating at its table. There is an inner dimension within our families, within our nation. There is an outer dimension in regards to our enemies- Recognize the two loaves! Chag sameyach!
Happy Shavuot and Shabbat shalom, Leah