We are now in the midst of the period of counting the Omer (see more on the Kabbalistic take on this ritual below). This “count-up” to the holiday of Shavuot, z’man matan torateinu – the time of the giving of our Torah, is a great opportunity for a foundation dedicated to “Living Torah” to do some special reflecting on its work.
Take, for example, the term matan (giving) that’s used to describe how the Torah comes to be ours to study and teach, to observe and to do. One implication is that we should see Torah as a gift, a present (Heb: matanah). A major part of our work is seeking ways for more Jews (and others) to appreciate it as such, as something that can enrich and ennoble their lives.
Of course, the term “giving” suggests other reflections as well. Foundations are usually thought of as “givers.” We make grants; we give gifts to help others do worthwhile and important things. But, the more we’ve gotten into our work, the more I’ve come to recognize that we are perhaps even more the recipient of gifts. Our partners and grantees give us the opportunity to make a difference. Without them, we can do very little on our own.
Foundations often hear “thank you” (and mostly, those who say it are sincere in doing so). But, in this season when we anticipate receiving the gift of Torah, we want to say thank you as well for the gifts we receive. Like the children of Israel at Sinai, we’re all in this together – and that’s something to celebrate.
Jon Woocher, President