pronouns: they, them, their

To Be Witnessed: A Shavout Reflection

Jewish Holiday

Rev. Chani Getter

May 28, 2020

Beginning on the second night of Passover, Jews begin the counting of the Omer. We count every evening for 49 days; a full seven weeks, and on the 50th evening we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot.  Shavuot is the holiday in which we commemorate receiving the Torah – the ten commandments on Mount Sinai. We celebrate our acceptance of the contract when we collectively said, “Yes!” 

In the text is says we celebrate saying “Yes,” fully!  In Hebrew we said “Na’ase V’nishma”, which translates to “we will do, and we will listen” – meaning we committed to doing, even before we knew all the details, even before we understood the depth of that commitment.

Shavuot is known as the marriage between The Divine* and Humanity. 

As the holiday approaches, I find myself pondering the question – 

What does it mean to be married to Spirit*?

First, what does it mean to be married? Or partnered? Or committed?

We all enter relationships for different reasons – I have found that the thing that we desire most, the thing that keeps us yearning for partnership – despite the messiness of balancing our own needs with the needs of others – is that we desire to be witnessed, to be seen, to be fully accepted. When we commit ourselves in relationship, we say in words and in actions: Your life is worth witnessing. I am interested in your day-to-day troubles and triumphs. I am here for the simple things like the groceries, the dirty laundry. I am here for the moments of silliness and the moments of deep pain. Your life is worthy, and I want to be a part of it. YOU are worth it. You are worth being witnessed and I see you!

So, to be partnered is to be witnessed and it’s not different when we partner with God*. On Mount Sinai, we as humans say to The Divine*, “I witness your world –  the beauty and the ugliness, and I show up to help your people – the downtrodden ones, the ones who are not being treated well, and the ones who aren’t treating themselves well. We partner with Mother Nature* saying – I am here, in this world… witnessing the beauty of the mountain and the pain of the homeless, the agony of the sick and the joy of the newborn. I am here. 

Spirit* does the same. The Divine* witnessed us, and chose to come into covenantal commitment with us, ALL of who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly. God* even recommitted after the sin of the golden calf by giving us the 2nd set of tablets. 

Relationship is about seeing ALL of the other person and not trying to change them, but to see them for who they are.

Perhaps we can also make this commitment in relationship with ourselves. Can we give ourselves permission to see all of who we are, to see our faults and our gifts, to see our joy and our pain? Can we give ourselves permission to be ALL of who we are… and feel all of what we feel?

As we step into Shavuot, the holiday of commitment and covenant, I bless us all with the gift of being witnessed by those who know and love us. Further, I bless us all to witness ourselves, to see all of who we are. And perhaps most of all, I bless us all that we be kind in our acceptance of self and those around us.

Chag Somayach

A Git Yom tov


*insert word that you feel connected to, whether it is God, Divine, Spirit, Goddess, Mother Nature, Father Sky, that which is greater than self, etc.

audio version - listen now