Home > From the Bimah > FROM THE BIMAH – MAY/JUNE 2016

In a recent interview, the pro-Leave campaigner Michael Gove recently stated that in his opinion a UK exit from the European Union, would lead to the “democratic freedom of a whole continent”. There is a striking parallel between the ongoing EU-referendum debate, and our religious Festivals. Both relating to Freedom and to the counting of time. We will shortly be celebrating the ultimate moment of our Freedom, the holiday which marks “the time of the giving of the Torah”, the anniversary of the Divine reve-lation at Sinai”. Shavuot, “the feast of weeks”, is given no calendrical date: all the other festivals are. Passover, for example is “on the fifteenth day” of the “first month”. Shavuot has no such date. It is calculated on the basis of counting “seven full weeks” from a particu-lar starting time, not by noting a date in the year. As we continue to count off seven full weeks from the moment we re-enacted the drama of our slavery, we also continue to count off the days culminating the referendum on June 23. The ability to count time, is a defining quality of a free human being. The story of our Passover tells how an otherwise undistinguished group of slaves found their way to freedom. Life is a journey. Every step brings us closer to our ultimate destination. Shavuot teaches us that greatness is not achieved by hoping for a better future, but by taking the here and now and transforming it into a spring board for success. Never lose the spirit or give up hope.

Daniel Rosenthal