The Avodah Blog

Revelation and Revolution on Shavuot

 

Shavuot–the holiday marking the giving of the Torah on Sinai — begins Tuesday night. Over the past 50 days, we’ve been counting the weeks in Avodah’s Revelation and Revolution Omer project and growing in strength and compassion to refuel our work in the world.

The culmination of our counting the Omer doesn’t just mark our receiving of the Torah; it is a celebration of learning and a commitment to take part in the Jewish wisdom and values we cherish.

In the spirit of enlightenment, members of the Avodah community will be leading tikkuns – study sessions – in cities across the country, featuring traditional Jewish and contemporary social justice texts and discussion questions to foster learning during this time of revelation. Jewish wisdom has much that can illuminate the conversation about America’s sometimes difficult challenges.

Below is a taste of one of Avodah’s tikkun sessions, featuring a short excerpt. We hope you enjoy sharing this with family and friends, or reading on your own.

Wishing you a joyous Shavuot! Chag Sameach from all of us at Avodah.

 

Deuteronomy 24:14-18.  For the Hebrew and English together, click here.

You should not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends on it; else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt. Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime. You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that God your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

 

  • In what ways are we instructed to treat poor people in this text?
  • What are the major themes of this text? What is repeated? What is emphasized?
  • The stranger/immigrant, the fatherless, and the widow are often grouped together in Torah as a special categories of persons needing protection. What do these three categories have in common? What might this tell us about gender and poverty in this historical social context? About poverty and national identity?
  • What kind of interventions are the text calling for here? What kinds of changes does it demand and what kinds of changes does it not demand? How is the position of women in poverty in this social-historical context left changed and unchanged by these laws?
  • What thoughts and feelings come up for you when you read this text?
To learn more about bringing Avodah’s teaching to your community, please contact Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg at  [email protected]

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