Shavuot

Lifting up the Voices of Jews Who are on the Margins

Aaron Hodge Greenberg: “anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world."

Aaron Hodge Greenberg: “anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world."

On the holiday of Shavuot, we receive not only the 10 Commandments but the entire Torah. We read from the Book of Ruth about a poor marginalized woman who had nothing, and very few options to improve her life. Ruth pretty much existed on the welfare of the time by gleaning the fields so that she and her mother-in-law Naomi could eat. Ruth, the outsider, the convert, the poor woman who would become the great-grandmother to King David.

We also read from the Torah portion of Yitro, named after Moses’ non-Jewish father-in-law. Yitro who would go on to tell Moses to recruit suitable people, and appoint them as judges. Yitro proposes a system of Judges similar to our modern day Judicial system. Yitro understood that what is needed in order to make the Torah work for the people is a judicial system made up of many people who will, speak with more than one voice, and look at the Torah with more than one worldview. Yitro understood that the Torah of one person even a Moses is not the Torah of a nation.

We have always been a community of many. A community made up of many diverse voices. Many of us sit on the margins of our society and many of us sit on the margins of Jewish life.

On this holiday let’s continue to lift up the voices of Jews who are on the margins of Jewish life. Diversity enriches our communities and makes us stronger. Lift up the voices of those who are marginalized in our communities so that we can continue to be a Torah of many.
Hag Sameach