On this Erev Shavuot, as we prepare to commemorate the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, it behooves us to consider our relationship with the body of knowledge that we refer to as "Torah." As modern, thinking people, equipped with critical studies and a healthy skepticism, our connection to the Torah is clearly different from what it might have been for our ancestors. Some of the questions we might think about today are:
What does the Torah mean to us today?
Is it our national story, the tale of the people of Israel?
Is it a set of laws that define our interactions with others?
Is it a guideline for our understanding of God?
Meanwhile, consider the following from Pirqei Avot (6:2):
אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי
בכל יום ויום בת קול יוצאת מהר חורב ומכרזת ואומרת
אוי להם לבריות מעלבונה של תורה
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught:
Every day a heavenly voice is heard from Mt. Horeb [i.e. Sinai] proclaiming:
"Woe to those creatures who have contempt for Torah."
What is striking about this is not the dire statement about those who reject the Torah, but that the voice continues to echo from Mt. Sinai. The words of Torah are still filtering down to us; all we have to do is listen.