Tonight we kindle the Festival candles for Shavuot. The last of the three major festivals for 5770. We will celebrate the first harvest, the bikkurim and dedicate them to God. We will celebrate the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai and receive the Divine Revelation and there in the wilderness become a People. On Shavuot we will celebrate and affirm our covenant with God.
But what happens when we feel the covenant is broken? Either by God or by our own doing?
We do what Jacob did. Jacob wrestled with a being divine by the river Jabbok. He struggled and though came out wounded, with a new name, he survived to father a nation. When we fight with God, when we are angry with God (or angry with ourselves for not living up to the covenant we have been entrusted with) must struggle like Jacob. The covenant is hard. It is meant to be hard. Life is hard. And those who promise you it is easy are lying to you. The covenant is a road map to help ease the way and guide our steps. But when we deviate from it we can certainly lose our way. Time and again the prophets of our Bible carry that message!
When we feel God has broken faith with us or we have broken faith with God -too often people just walk away. But when one is in the wilderness, in the midbar, in the desert, going it alone can mean death. How can one survive without food, water, sustenance, and companionship? Being part of a covenantal community like the Jewish people helps to provide those. And this is what we affirm tonight on Shavuot. Being part of something so much greater that extends through history.
The covenant shaped and reshaped by rabbis, prophets, teachers, and yes, everyday people-is a living breathing document that helps to reflect our struggle with the Divine and ourselves. So remember to be easier on yourself–don’t go it alone-you don’t have to and do your self a favor–don’t just walk away.