Approaching the Mountain of Wisdom on Shavuot
by Jhos Singer
I’ve just returned from a few weeks in Israel. As usual, I was struck by all the swirling energy there—the love and the hatred, the idiocy and the intellect, the creativity and the conformity. It’s all there. In Technicolor. Israel is problematic and promising, transgressive and transcendent, heart breaking and inspirational. After each trip—meeting with people from every walk of life, traveling from the dry south to the verdant north, comparing Tel Aviv’s bright lights, big city flash with Jerusalem’s ancient walls burnished by sweat, skin and tears, emitting a soft golden luster—I cannot reduce Israel to either her virtues or her sins. I honor her valleys, and I revere her mountains.
Shavuot comes in this evening, inviting us all to approach the mountain of wisdom, to stretch our knowledge and to heighten our awareness that, indeed, Torah is all around us. As a metaphor, “the mountain” is apt for this endeavor. Mountains inspire us from a distance. But to actually scale a mountain—to touch, clamber and struggle up crags and through crannies—is humbling, dangerous and exhilarating. We put our sense of reality on the line every time we open up to new ideas or challenge old ones. It is risky business to consider different points of view, to try new ways of worship, or to step outside of our spiritual comfort zone. After all, it’s a commonly held belief that the further up we go, the farther down we may fall. And yet, that’s how we grow, that’s how we find our deepest truth and most importantly, that’s how we attain new vantage points and expand our own understanding. We must be strong and limber—able to stretch without snapping.
The East Bay is blessed beyond measure with a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot that spans the gamut of Jewish spiritual, religious, academic, intellectual, mystical and social encounters. Jews and fellow seekers, religious and secular, believers and doubters—all will gather this evening at the JCC East Bay* to share a night of magical, mysterious and mental mountain climbing. We invite you to step out of your comfort zone to meet up with people from all stripes, to learn and teach, to listen and speak, to see and be seen on our very own mountain of revelation.
Many Chochmat HaLev Members will be offering fantastic teaching including:
- Maggid Jhos Singer
- Estelle Frankel
- Rabbi SaraLeya Schley & Amanda Nube
- Ron Feldman
- Dr. Zvi Bellin
- Marty Potrop
- Julie Emden
And if one night of learning isn’t enough, Thursday morning you can join Zvi Bellin, Mimi Farb and Jen Roitman for chanting, study and cheesecake at Chochmat HaLev.