29 May 2020 / 6 Sivan 5780
While the Pesach Seder takes place in the home, Shavuot night usually sees our Shules filled with people learning all night, with a little Shule hopping for different classes and different teachers. The streets of Caulfield are abuzz even in the middle of the night as eager students throng to their preferred study location. However, this year the streets will be empty.
This year there will be no communal learning, no discussion over which Shule has the best midnight snacks, no difficult decisions over which class to attend, no pre-Shavuot bake sales to raise money for worthy causes.
This year will be different, this year will be difficult. Like everything during this time, it will be a challenge. However, like everything at this time, it will be an opportunity. This year there will be no community learning, but this year Shavuot can be a chance for family learning. All of us together, with our spouses, sons and daughters, grandchildren that are in lockdown with us. This may lead to new ways to learn, new topics to discover and new ideas, but most importantly this will result in deeper relationships.
Even though we may feel that under our current circumstances, we have an abundance of family time, the time on Yom Tov is different. During the week we’re distracted, we are trying to work. We are all exhausted by the extra effort required to listen and interact over zoom.
The festival of Shavout is that opportunity – to experience the Torah through fresh eyes, with excitement and appreciation. However, this Shavuot, the holiday will give us a more focused time with each other, time to learn, time to grow – and to create deeper and more relationships with our family based on eternal Torah values.
Keep safe and be well.
Rabbi and Sheyna Riesenberg