This evening begins the festival of Shavuot. It marks two things: The giving of the Torah and the harvest of first fruits. We accepted and committed ourselves to living the 613 mitzvot. By doing so, we harvested fruits for all generations to come. All of Israel stood at Har Sinai and made the commitment and obligation of "We accept and we will do". All became Jews by choice. A tribal people became the nation of Am Israel. This new nation consisted of those who were direct descendants of Abraham as well as those who left Egypt with them. All through the Torah there are many instances of those who join Am Israel out of love and awe of HaShem. The first was Abram. He rejected the idols of his father and was circumcised and then became Abraham. While in b'Midbar, Yithro is the most prominent of those who joined Am Israel. For Shavuot, the Megillah of Ruth is read. Her simple words of conversion: "Your people shall be my people, your HaShem, my HaShem".
I think the Megillah of Ruth is read not only to celebrate those who join Am Israel but to remind us that deep down, whether a Jew by birth or a Jew by choice, each of us has made the commitment and the obligation to live by Torah.
Last evening, after Havdalah, our rabbi gave us handouts on Rabbi Kook's The Fourfold Song. Each of us was asked to tell which resonated with us at this time. Mine was:
There is another who sings the song of his people. He leaves the circle of his own individual self, because he finds it without sufficient breadth, without an idealistic basis. He aspires towards the heights, and he attaches himself with a gentle love to the whole community of Israel. Together with her he sings her songs. He feels grieved in her afflictions and delights in her hopes. He contemplates noble and pure thoughts about her future and probes with love and wisdom her inner spiritual essence.
Each person's song adds to the whole of Am Israel and to creation and the end result will be:
May we all be blessed to hear the song of every facet of creation and integrate it into every fiber of our beings, until we become the music itself. Through this we come to realize our potential and accomplish our purpose in life, expressed through our own unique song. May we always strive to rectify and heal, fulfill and reveal the oneness of G-d, with the great joy that comes from serving Him. May our efforts be directed to redemption and the sounds of the tenth song, a new song to G-d, waiting to be revealed, quickly and in our days.
There are many voices that sing and the web-site Jews by Choice embraces Reform. Conservative, Orthodox, Ba'al Tehsuva and those who are going toward Har Sinai to become part of Am Israel. A great song allows for different harmonies, melodies, beats, and tones. It becomes pleasing to the ear when each harmony, melody, beat, and tone is allowed to be heard and respected.
Mystical Paths and The Muqata have posts about Shavuot.