Despite being one of the “big three” pilgrimage holidays, Shavuot is one of the least celebrated Jewish holidays among American Jews. This is probably because the unique “ritual” associated with it – staying up all night studying Torah – is often both inaccessible and impractical. But it also might reflect a deep ambivalence that American Jews feel toward the Torah. Much like Rabbi Isaac – who asked over 1000 years ago: “Why didn’t the Torah start in the middle of Exodus with the first commandment?” – many Jews today see the Torah as a book of laws, laws that unlike Rabbi Isaac they don’t follow. No wonder they don’t stay up all night studying it.
Here are 3 alternative ways of relating to the Torah that might inspire us to crack open a Jewish book this Saturday night as the holiday begins, even if we fall asleep before sunrise on Sunday morning.