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The Day Civilization Began

“The Jews started it all – and by it I mean so many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all of us, Jew and Gentile, believer and atheist, tick. Without the Jews, we would see the world through different eyes, hear with different ears, even feel with different feelings … We would think with a different mind, interpret all our experiences differently, draw different conclusions from the things that befall us. And we would set a different course for our lives.”

Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels

It all began on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, when Moses ascended Sinai to receive the Torah.  This week we celebrate the holiday of Shavuos when, on the fiftieth day after the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people became a nation guided by divine law and moral freedom.

In an age when individual autonomy, relative truth, and non-judgmentalism have become the lodestones of our new “enlightenment,” we would be well-served to reflect on how critical personal responsibility and a well-calibrated moral compass are as the bedrock of civil society and a healthy world.

To learn more about the Festival of Shavuos, click here.

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