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contract renewal

05/13/2021 08:38:13 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

All of us have subscriptions and contracts that have annual renewal dates. Whether it is insurance policies, vehicle registrations, credit cards, or media, much of what we engage in has an annual renewal date, and most likely an increase in the rate charged. We can lament all we want about the continued increase in costs for these items, as their percent increases are generally not commensurate with our increases in income. When you include the cost of utilities, cable television, rent and food, the sum total is equivalent to one evening at a movie theater, of course with the popcorn and beverage. While public utility commissions exist, in theory, to evaluate utility requests for rate increases, we all know that the utilities ask for more than they will get, and receive what they really wanted all along. We just shake our heads when new bills arrive with those increases, powerless to do anything. It is the same when we receive new terms of service from providers, one-sided legalese that most of us don’t understand, with the only option being to no longer utilize that provider. While we like to think that we are in control of our lives, there are elements beyond our control.

The Jewish people have an annual contract renewal, and you probably did not know it. Right now you are puzzled, wondering what might that possibly be? The answer is: Shavuot. How could the festival of Shavuot be an annual contract renewal?

On this date in the Jewish calendar, the Revelation at Mt. Sinai occurred, and God gifted the Torah to the Israelites. Tradition teaches us that all future generations of Jews were present at that time, and party to the event. What did occur? When the Israelites saw the incredible display of the cloud over Mt. Sinai, the lightning and thunder, and the sound of the Shofar, they responded with two immortal words: Na-aseh v’Nishmah – we will do and we will heed.  In essence, a contract between God and the Jewish people was signed that very day. The same God who freed them from Egyptian slavery and parted the Reed Sea promised to be their God, and their part of the bargain was to follow the word of God. Na-aseh V’Nishmah. We will read this very moment in synagogues across the globe on the first day of Shavuot, which occurs this coming Monday, May 17, 2021. By reading this text, we re-enact that very experience, and each of us offers our personal Na-aseh v’Nishmah.

As we face this annual renewal, what can each of us do to actively engage? Na-aseh v’Nishmah means that we face opportunities every moment of every day to imitate God in what we say and do. By renewing this contract, we once again assume the obligation of mitzvot: protecting the widow, the orphan and the stranger; loving our neighbors as ourselves; helping out those less fortunate. Each time we act in this manner, we renew our contract with God, and state without hesitation: Na-aseh v’Nishmah. We accept the responsibility of doing our part to make the world a better place.

The contractual year is about to end. Will you re-up for another year?


Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782