Friday, May 14, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to Celebrate Shavuot: Reason #8

Shavuot and Social Action

Each holiday lends itself well to various Social Action themes and advocacy opportunities. Shavuot is no exception. With gratitude to the URJ Social Action Guide to Shavuot, here is some food for thought:

  • Economic Justice: In Leviticus, Shavuot is linked with the commandments of pei-ah (leaving crops at the corners of the field for the poor) and sh'chicha (leaving the fallen grain for the poor). Even as we celebrate the first fruits and the bounty of the land, we are to remember those in need. We are commanded to provide for the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Deut. 24:19). Hence, our rejoicing is incomplete unless even the poorest and most vulnerable members of society have enough to eat.
  • Environment: As we celebrate the summer harvest, we can strengthen our connection with the earth. In particular, how can we ensure that we live in an ecologically responsible manner? For instance, we can drive fuel-efficient cars, recycle, refrain from using harmful pesticides and herbicides and consume food grown in an environmentally responsible manner. As we make these choices in our personal lives, we can also advocate for environmental awareness in the broader community.
  • World Jewry: The entire Jewish community entered into the covenant at Sinai. Some say that "those who are standing here with us this day" refers to our ancestors at Sinai, while "those who are not with us here this day" refers to the Jews of future generations. The covenant is given to us all, reminding us to be concerned for Jews across the centuries and around the world, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.

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