Shavuot: For What Are You Hungry?

Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash
Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash

The festival of  Shavuot draws its origins from our agricultural past. We are told to bring the “first fruits” of harvest in a pilgramage to the Temple. It is only later in our history that the  historical linkages were added to the celebration. Now, for many, a festival that celebrates the Divine Revelation at Sinai presents theological issues. Yet this festival can speak to other very relevant issues as well. The “first fruits” image recalls the powerful connection we have with food and can allow us to examine the current food inequality that is present in so many of our cities and, indeed, the world.

Just recently, as a result of pandemic issues, climate issues and the war in Ukraine, we have seen warnings of an impending food crises. The May 27 “Guardian Weekly” cited a cover story on “How A Global Food Crises Will Change The World”. At the same time, the “Economist” of May 21-27 warned on its cover of “The Coming Food Catastrophe”. In almost every locality this story playing out as local food pantries have been overwhelmed by  need. The lack of food has all too often meant famine and famine is part of our own history. Remember it was famine that drove Biblical ancestors to Egypt. It is a famine that  greets is in the very first  verse of the Book of Ruth, the megillah that is read on Shavuot. If we let these texts “speak”  to us  around issues of food, famine and hunger, we can allow us to ask  a very important spiritual question: what are we hungry for?

As we age, as we confront the reality of our own mortality, this festival, if we so chose, invites us to ask that question. What are we hungry for at this stage of our life? What can feed out spirit. our soul? Is it companionship? Is it a new beginning or is it just a life of peace without struggle? Is it a respite from pain or stress or a desire to reclaim a lost sense of meaning? These are profound spiritual questions that we are invited to ask our own soul. This takes some courage as it is all too easy to deny and deflect but let me suggest that deep in our souls we do ask. What are we hungry for? What can feed our souls and spirits?

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Richard F Address

1 Comment

  1. My wife Elaine and I picked up and left a larger Jewish community in Cherry Hill May 2021 to be close to our children and grandchildren in Charlottesville Va where we just joined a much smaller Jewish community as part of Congregation Beth Israel. Choral Singing both at MKor Shalom and later, Singing Hearts has always brought me closer to my inner spirituality. The Chutzpah choir of CBI and Still Sharp Singers , part of The Center at Belvedere, a secular choir, are now my musical outlets here in our new home town. There will again be opportunities to resume outreach for the larger Jewish community, musically and other ways.
    The question of where are we going is very individual. For me, involvement with others and sharing whatever God given talents with them is my own answer.

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