Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shavuot - 5768/2008

I had an interesting discussion with an inspired convert to Judaism who found his faith whilst studying PPE at Oxford. It is certainly unusual to hear of someone becoming more religious studying at Oxford, but Aryeh explained how he had found the abstract nature of his subject unappealing, and had wanted something more practical. After he had begun searching for meaning in religion and examinined Christianity and Islam, he found that Judaism, being the original revelation, was also "better" since the number of people, an entire nation, is described as being present at Sinai, and this number is far greater than the relatively tiny numbers present in any of the revelations described in other religions. It was, in short, a line of reasoning similar to that of the ancient Kuzari king, written about by Judah Halevi (More).

It got me thinking. The revelation at Sinai is a marvelous concept. 3 million people, at the foot of a mountain, and the voice of God introducing Himself as Anochi Hashem. The tradition that all of Israel, including all future generations, were present at Sinai, was taught to me dogmatically at school. But cynicsm aside - were we not there? Can we read the verses in Shemot and not marvel at the Divine calling out to our nation? Can we say that we don't hear that calling ourselves?

Aryeh had to jump out of the cab early, and he gave me money to pay the cab driver with, first making me promise I would explain that it was a mitzvah to pay workers on time as I paid him.... which of course I did. The cab driver loved it.

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