I’ve been giving some thought to the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot (also known as the Feast of Weeks), which celebrates the giving of the Torah (Law) to the Hebrew people at Mt. Sinai.
There are several traditions of this holiday (such as eating dairy products, reading the book of Ruth, etc.) but the one that interests me the most is the tradition of studying Torah all night long.
As much I would love to study Torah all night long, I think maybe a more fruitful exercise would be to study through the Torah over the course of the coming year and then to blog about the experience. So, here’s my plan…
1. I will study the weekly Torah portions that are read by many Jews each week. I hope that in reading the text in the context that Jews read it, I will see it with new eyes.
2. I will translate some portion of the week’s text in Hebrew (even if only a verse or two) as a way to maintain my Hebrew skills.
3. I will read some of the Jewish commentaries on the week’s portion, both scholarly ones (like the JPS commentary) but also less scholarly ones (blogs and the like).
4. I will write some kind of response to the text on my blog.
5. I will express my thoughts on the text openly. If I have doubts about the text’s wisdom, I will say so. I will bring to the table both an attempt at an objective historical consideration of the text, but also will bring my interfaith/feminist/anti-oppression perspective to the text. And I will consider the devotional/spiritual aspects of the text as well.
6. I will seek to engage with others in thoughtful dialogue about the text but I will do my best to avoid pointless arguments.
So that’s the plan. Shavuot starts on sunset of June 3 and runs until sundown on June 5, so I will start with next week’s Torah portion. Stay tuned…