The narrative of what occurred at Mount Sinai is not one of the better-known biblical stories. Perhaps, because it is overshadowed by the unfortunate event that happened shortly thereafter...that whole incident with the golden calf.
Shavuot reminds Jews of our religious roots and obligations. America, though, is anchored in a dedication to liberty for all citizens no matter what they believe. This is what unites us in a civic heritage no religious tradition ever can or should try to duplicate.
It was already a big night. I was able to stay up a little later than my three younger sisters. I was a cocky eight-year-old sitting on the vinyl couch in the lower floor of our tri-level watching The 10 Commandments.
Watching Paramount's The Ten Commandments is, for many, an annual part of the spring holidays. While there have been other film versions of the story of the exodus, none have the epic staying power of the 1956 classic.
For one week each spring, grocery stores display both a Passover aisle and an Easter aisle, stocked with colorful baskets and a mountain of candy. And at the top of that confectionery Mt. Sinai? The Cadbury Creme Egg.
The evidence for the existence of anything like modern day monogamous gay unions in that time is sketchy at best. I love my Bible as much as any evangelical and I think there's a great case to be made that the Bible is simply silent regarding same-sex covenantal unions.
No matter what side of the creation-evolution debate you are on, your partisanship costs you dearly. Why? Because it costs you the ability to read the Bible on its own terms. What do we lose by straightjacketing the Bible with the creation-evolution debate?
Historically, both liberals and conservatives have blended religion and politics, usually with disastrous results. We would do well to look to the past as we sort out the church-state issues we face today.
This past Saturday, I was scheduled to lead Torah study in Mishkan Shalom. Actually, I don't "lead" it so much as I "weave" it, choosing the specific passage we read and then encouraging the participants to explore their own thoughts and feelings about it.
In a move that has rankled many in this predominantly conservative Christian state, the Satanic Temple in New York has formally applied with the Oklahoma Capitol's grounds committee to build a statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed depiction of Satan, in the state's capitol building.
Whether you accept a particular revelation as true or consider a ritual institution to be divinely demanded, the category "religion" is a human construction with a shifting meaning that people use strategically to make sense of the world and to negotiate relations to others in society.
In the recurrent clash over the separation of church and state, both the religious right and the secular left invoke the Founding Fathers' original intent to justify their positions. In reality, neither side is completely correct on the historical dimension of the issue.
The tenth commandment is clear: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife," which means, by direct implication, you ought to be coveting your own. About eighty percent of husbands who cheat on their wives claim to love their wives, but lust for another woman has trumped that love.
According to Jewish tradition, the upcoming festival of Shavuot is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Oddly though, we find no clear link in the Bible between the Shavuot festival and the giving of the Torah.
Every religious person should object to having the Ten Commandments in schools because you are allowing other people -- people over whom you have no control -- the responsibility of interpreting said commandments.
For Passover this year, Rizzoli has just released The Bronfman Haggadah, written by the businessman, philanthropist and Jewish community leader Edgar Bronfman Sr., illustrated by artist Jan Aronson, who is also Bronfman's wife.