Monday, May 10, 2010

The Forgotten Holiday

We all have our "forgotten" holidays. In my house, it is Mother's Day. Even though I am the mother of four fantastic children, my husband tends to forget this holiday and ignore it (and me, to a certain extent) on this day. Maybe it makes me a small person, but it bothers me that I don't get even a word of recognition for the work that I do.  I guess I shouldn't look at it like that, but I do.

On the Jewish calendar, Shavuot is considered the "forgotten holiday." It falls out seven weeks after Pesach and is usually in the middle of all the secular coming-of-summer festivities. Who has time for this holiday? The thing is, without this holiday, we really would not be who we are. Without Shavuot, we would not be Jews becasue we would not have the Torah.

On Shavuot, we celebrate the giving of the Torah. The Torah is the life-blood of Judaism. It gives us directions on what to do and what not to do. It tells us what we are allowed to do and what is forbidden. It even tells us which holidays to observe and how to celebrate them. But, we often forget to celebrate this holiday at all.

Oh, we are quick to celebrate the Torah in other ways. On Simchat Torah we celebrate and dance because we have finished reading the Torah and we are going to start it over, one more time. On Shabbat, we celebrate the Torah by reading it and studying it thoroughly. We feel connected to the Torah. It is a part of us. As my two-year old is quick to shout out during Saturday services, "My Rabbi has my Torah!"

Yes, the Torah belongs to all of us.

But, back to the Forgotten Holiday of Shavuot. One would think that celebrating the giving of our most important set of books would be priority one. One would think that we would go out of our way to make a fuss on the day designated to honor the very Book that made us Jews. But we don't. We brush it under the rug and often it is barely a blip on the holiday radar schedule. We always make time to make a fuss over Hanukkah, which, by the way, is not even mentioned in the Torah. But, Shavuot, which is discussed in Parsha Emor, is forgotten. It feels wrong.

The day I conceived my oldest child, I became a mother. The powers that be declared the first Sunday in May as a day put aside to honor all of those women who have become mothers. One would think that if you had the privilege to become a mother, those who participated in that feat would want to celebrate and honor you as a mother. Apparently, the powers that be agreed and, voila! Mother's Day was born.

To my mind, there is a distinct connection between Mother's Day and Shavuot. At least in my house. My husband did not wish me a good day. My children did not wish me a good day. It was a forgotten holiday.  I don't have a good reason to share as to why my family would ignore this day. I don't even want to venture a guess. It is easier to just go on believing that they really did forget the day, rather than to believe that they forgot me.

You know what, no matter what the reason, it was not a good feeling.

It did bring one thing to light for me, though. Shavuot will no longer be a forgotten holiday in my house. I'm not suggesting that G-d feels the same feeling of sadness that I felt being forgotten on Mother's Day, but there is no reason why I should test it. Shavuot is clearly named as a holiday to be observed. It is up to me as a Jewess, and as a mother, to see that it is observed.

I think it is safe to say that the Torah is the "Mother of all Books." This makes Shavuot its own Mother's Day, and it will not be forgotten.

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