Today is DAY FORTY-SEVEN, which makes SIX WEEKS and FIVE DAYS of the Omer.
Torah for Today
Rabbi David S. Widzer
As we approach Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, we are basing our day-by-day teachings on each of the Ten Commandments.
Commandment #7: "You shall not commit adultery."
Several summers ago, I learned a mnemonic device to remember the Ten Commandments by hand motions, different actions using the appropriate number of fingers to recall which commandment is which. First Commandment: one finger pointed upward – there is only One God. Second Commandment: two fingers, one on each hand, one upright and the other flexing up and down – don’t bow down to idols. And so on. (If you’d like to see a full version of the hand motions, check out this video by Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.)
When we reach the Seventh Commandment, we hold up two fingers on one hand, five fingers on the other. The explanation comes in two different versions. For the PG-13 and older crowd – there are TWO people in a marriage, not FIVE (a good way to remember that the commandment is “You shall not commit adultery.”) For the younger kids, make the two fingers into scissors and pretend to cut off the fingers on the other hand – do not cut, or break, your promises to other people.
When I teach this to adults and show them the two different versions of the Seventh Commandment, there usually is a chuckle at how we teach the age-appropriate version to the kids. But the “younger” explanation highlights an eternal truth about the commandment. Adultery isn’t only about sexual impropriety. It is the breaking of a vow or a promise that the married partners make to each other. Since the Talmud teaches that a worthy wedding couple is blessed to have the Divine Presence dwell with them (Sotah 17a), the betrayal of marriage through adultery is an affront to God. Marriage in Hebrew is kiddushin, related to the word for “holy.” Adultery is thus the undermining of a sacred relationship.
In truth, all relationships, friendships, and partnerships can be sacred. Based on trust and mutual respect, promises made in this context invoke the (silent) Divine partner in the relationship. Breaking or cutting off your promises belies that trust and sullies that sanctity. Adultery is a specific form of that sin. But perhaps the Seventh Commandment comes to teach us about the sacred nature of all of our relationships and all of our promises, no matter how many fingers it takes to remember them.
Check your daily email for links to all Shavuot activities!
Thursday, May 28th
7:00pm - Dairy Recipe "Show and Tell"
It's time to show off your favorite dairy recipes for Shavuot! We won't be able to taste each other's work, but we will "ooh" and "ahh" over what you make! Have a dairy recipe with a story? We would love to hear it! Need some inspiration? Here are some Kol Dorot-tested options: Mini Cheesecakes, Blintz Souffle, No-Churn Ice Cream. (Thanks, Heather Lorgeree!) You don't need to make anything to participate! (But it will be more fun if you do...)
7:20(ish) - Shavuot Study: "Why Dairy?" and Other Questions
To start off our study for the evening, Kol Dorot Educator Anat Katzir will attempt to answer the question: "Why do we eat dairy on Shavuot?" It's more complicated than you think! (Including a "conspiracy theory.")
The Rabbis will close out the session with some favorite teachings about the giving (and receiving) of Torah.
Friday, May 29th
10:00am - Shavuot Festival Morning Service with Yizkor
Festival morning services are a "hidden gem," and this is the perfect opportunity to try one out. Lots of music and special prayers. Includes the prayers of Yizkor.
Ethics Study Group with Rabbi Noah
Every Wednesday, 12:00-1:00pm
Check your daily email for how to join.