Shavuot, unlike many Jewish holidays, does not take place on the full moon. This celebration, when we study all night to commemorate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, precedes the night of the moon’s peak brightness by about a week. So, along with the gift of Torah, we are given the two weeks of the moon’s greatest light for our Mount Sinai descent. This allows us to carefully examine our footing as we endeavor to decode each year’s revelation of Torah and affirm our Shavuot insights for “walking in God’s ways” and bringing holiness into the more quotidian world. Under the light of the Sivan moon, we ask ourselves whether the truths we have perceived are the voice of prophecy or self-serving assertions of our ego.
Recently, on a visit to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, I shared an elevator ride with a well-dressed man who was carrying a bulging portfolio under his arm. Wondering what he was doing in the hospital, I inquired about the nature of his visit. He replied that he was a lawyer visiting a client. I was impressed with such compassion and asked, "Do you visit every client that is in the hospital?" He immediately explained that this was a rare visit. "My client called me in great rage. She insisted that I come right over. She wants to change her will before it is too late. The reason for her sudden decision is that yesterday she had a fight with one of her relatives, and her daughter encouraged her to remove that relative's name from the will. So here I am."
A yeshiva outgrew its downtown quarters and moved to the former site of an upstate boys' academy. Finding a boathouse on the property, the Rosh Yeshiva called in one of the rabbis and ordered him to organize a rowing team.