Shavuot June 1, 2017

Although we observe one day of Shavuot in Reform Judaism, today is the second day of Shavuot for others.  On Shavuot, we relive the receiving of Torah at Mt. Sinai and read the passages in Exodus surrounding that revelation. Before the Ten Commandments are given, Moses tells the men to purify themselves, including the statement: “Do not go near a woman.” (Ex. 19:15) …Ouch!  Just when we are looking forward to that moment when the entire community (every Jew who ever lived or would ever live) stands as one to receive the Torah, women are singled out for exclusion, or worse, for tainting the moment of revelation.  Various commentators have tried to ameliorate this statement so that it sounds less harsh or exclusionary, but the fact is that until very recent times, women were (and in some communities still are) excluded from the moments, rites, and rituals that bring them close to Torah.  We need to continue to work for the time when all women will be given access to and be recognized as having much to bring to Torah.