Tis the season for graduations and tis the week for graduating into our new selves. We have “arrived” at the week prior to the holiday of Shavuot (the week of Malchut) which commences on Saturday night—our commencement address at Mount Sinai was the Ten Commandments.
Many a commencement speaker this week will focus their comments on graduation as a beginning and not an ending. So it is for our “change”—it is a beginning, not an ending. Change is only as lasting as the commitment to see it through and stick with it. And change begets more change.
For the Jewish people this change has now lasted for three thousand three hundred and twenty four years. As with the Jewish people and its Torah, nothing remains static. We as a people have changed and the Torah has changed.
I finished teaching a mini-series class at Temple Emanuel about the concept of a New Torah that will be taught by the Messiah. I alluded to the participants in the class that it would be reasonable to understand that the Torah has undergone change—even if we assert that every letter and word in the Torah is from Sinai. A purist might say that if the words are the same then nothing has changed. Our relationship though to the Torah text has most certainly changed, whatever Jewish denomination we fancy ourselves to be a part of. Two examples will suffice: no bigamy, no slaves. The Torah law does not prohibit either but this was changed to reflect new sensitivities. Interestingly, changes that Reform Judaism made in the 19th and 20th centuries are now being reconsidered for inclusion within Reform’s ‘new’ understanding of Jewish commitment (and even using the word Jewish obligation).
So how is my change going? I will give a full report next week—but also consider this: What will my and your change look like in 324 days (not three millennium and so many years) from now. This is the beauty of the tradition that we count 49 days of the Omer and the 50th day counts itself. If we commit to and follow through on change—change will start counting itself.
by Melanie Gruenwald For all these things A song by Naomi Shemer Every bee that brings the honey Needs a sting to be complete And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the