I have the good fortune to keep in touch online and offline with many non-observant friends from my childhood. Before Pesach a few of them were in search of a 2-5 minute seder, so I cut down the Beyond BT Guide to the Seder to it’s bare bone essentials using the logic that any mitzvah performed is a good thing.
If non-observant people are only willing to give 2-5 minutes for Pesach, then 60 seconds seemed about the right amount of time for the less familiar holiday of Shavuos.
Here is the first incarnation of the “60 Second Guide to Shavuos”. Comments and critiques are welcome and if you think it’s useful please send it to your friends and family:
Creation of the World and Man
– There is a G-d, who is completely spiritual
– G-d created physical and spiritual worlds
– G-d created man who is half spiritual and half physical for a purpose
– Man’s purpose is to transform the physical world into a spiritual G-d connected world
The Receiving of Torah
– To accomplish this spiritual transformation, G-d transmitted the knowledge and tools in the form of the Torah
– The spiritual encounter of receiving the Torah was experienced to some degree by the entire Jewish People and to a greater degree by Moses
– The holiday of Shavuos is a celebration of this most profound spiritual encounter between G-d and Mankind
The Role of Torah
– The role of the Torah is to help us understand and create spiritual realities
– Every act we perform has spiritual ramifications, and the acts which have the greatest power to transform the physical into the spiritual are the mitzvos specified in the Torah
– Our commitment for Shavuos is to learn about the spiritual realities described in the Torah and to dedicate ourselves to achieving the world’s purpose by performing the spiritual acts necessary to achieve that goal
In addition to learning Torah which can be accomplished by reading the above post, try to enjoy a special meal at night and during the day.
Mount Sinai. Accepting the Torah.
Flowers. Cheesecake. Book of Ruth. Yizkor.
Chag Samayach, everyone.
Good Yom Tov.
Have a joyous Shavuos holiday.
Very nice. Much appreciated.
Here is what I ended up posting:
The 40 Second Guide to Shavuos
The foundation of Judaism is that there is a G-d, who is completely spiritual. G-d created both a physical and spiritual world. The centerpiece of creation is man who is composed of a physical body and a spiritual soul. Our collective purpose is to transform the world into a unified G-d connected spiritual world.
To accomplish this spiritual transformation G-d transmitted the necessary knowledge and tools in the form of the Torah. The Torah informs us how to turn physical acts into G-d connected spiritual acts. Every positive act we perform can be G-d connected, but the ones with the greatest connection power are the mitzvos G-d explicitly specified in the Torah.
The holiday of Shavuos is the day that G-d spiritually transmitted the Torah. The entire Jewish nation experienced this transmission and Moses experienced it to a much greater degree. The day is filled with a spiritual energy through which we can deepen our commitment to connect to G-d through the learning of Torah. There is also a mitzvah to eat 2 special meals and in doing so we transform the physical act of eating into a spiritual G-d connected activity.
Thanks to everyone for the comments. I’ve taken a Ramchal like – “just the spiritual facts” approach.
I’m learning the Ramchal’s Derech Hashem with my Partners in Torah chavrusa and I’ve found it the most impactful thing we learned in the 3+ years we’ve been learning together.
Mark, great idea and very good points.
i would just amend this part:
“The holiday of Shavuos is a celebration of this most profound spiritual encounter between G-d and Mankind” – this is a great place to introduce the concept that a jewish holiday, unlike a secular one, is not a commemoration of something that happened to occur on that day, but rather occured on that day because of that time’s innate spiritual nature – which we too can tap into on that day.
in this vein, i would add something at the end about getting into our appreciation for the gift of this treasure and our affirmation of this treasure and the unique relationship to which it points.
Mark suggeted the following:
“The spiritual encounter of receiving the Torah was experienced to some degree by the entire Jewish People and to a greater degree by Moses
The role of the Torah is to help us understand and create spiritual realities”
I would amend the first comment to state that Moshe Rabbeinu received the entirety of the Written and Oral Torah, with the latter consisting of a series of keys intepretation that were orally transmitted from master to disciple and were only reduced to written form out of the necessities of history.
I would amend the second comment to state that the Torah was giben by an Infinite Beuing to finite man as a means of entering into a covenant that is very similar to a marriage for the purposes of refining man’s character and reminding man that one expresses thank you via concrete acts in the everyday and historical-spiritual dimensions.
Mark, I admire your good sense.
Eat. Pray. Think.
That’s our mesorah,
Thanks for the Torah.
Stay up all night to study,
It’s all right to learn with a buddy,
Eat delights made from cheese,
Don’t forget Yizkor please,
Read the Ten Commandments,
All that G-d demandments,
1) “to some degree by the entire Jewish People and to a greater degree by Moses” – this sounds like a “vort” you heard and wanted to put in – yet it’s misleading (we don’t emphasize Moshe) and not mainstream. Wouldn’t it be better to take up chazal’s saying that “every Jewish soul was at Sinai” – which leads to:
2) No mention of the Torah as the covenant that defines the Jewish people – and its task as the “firstborn son” of humanity. Ultimately all people will cleave to the Torah’s moral guidance, but not all will keep the mitzvot. I’m missing the Jewish people here…
…it will also be useful to introduce the concept of the Torah as a binding “moral constitution” to counter reform/revisionist claims that Judaism is whatever we want it to be.
3) Introducing the land of Israel connection can be very positive, depending on the audience. Most American Jews are still positive about Israel.
They really did ask for a 2-5 minute seder and there are a few on the ‘Net. One was a messianic Christian version.
What has been your experience with secular seders? Do you find people spending much time (more that 30 minutes) on the before meal portion?
I think that we have to meet people where they are and in our days people need things in smaller doses. I checked with my Rav. The Hagaddah is a pretty complex limud and beyond the scope of many secular Jews. Not that they shouldn’t read the whole thing.
I didn’t get the request until Erev Pesach, but in the weeks before the Seder I did a series of very short posts to try to explain Jewish spirituality and Pesach from a Derech Hashem (Ramchal) perspective. It was well received.
My personal approach is understanding before inspiration because I think understanding is more durable in the long run. Frum friends have pointed out that an intellectual approach does not appeal to many so I continually working on presenting it in a more understandable manner.
Skeptic – those things aren’t “inspirational” — ironically, those things would also be much more likely to connect with secular Jews than all this talk about the “Torah” and the repetitive, off-putting use of the G word.
Mark – I’m not sure that I agree with your approach. It’s great that you have maintained contact with your friends – but did they really ask you for a 2-5 minute seder? Sounds hard to believe that they had so much chutzpah as to give you a time limit. And even harder to believe that you agreed to provide it. Did they follow it? What was their reaction to it?
No mention of Bikkurim? Chag-ha-katzir? Is there something wrong with the Torah’s definition of the holiday?