Question: What do ROSES, MOSES, and NOSES have in common?
Answer: The Holiday of Shavuot. It is a custom to adorn both synagogue and home with flowers. Mount Sinai, a mountain in the desert, miraculously bloomed at the giving of the Torah. And the Jews are compared to a rose among thorns. This is the connection of ROSES to Shavuot.
Moses ascended Sinai to study and convey the Torah to the people. Moses also instructed the people to keep their cattle from grazing upon the suddenly green desert mountain. This is the connection of MOSES to Shavuot.
A flower’s uniqueness is its scent. Scent is the most refined of the five senses. The most spiritual. At Sinai the world was perfectly spiritual, spiritually perfect. It was positively fragrant. This is the connection of NOSES to Shavuot.
Every single Jew is a rose, a flower, whose role it is to bloom and send forth heavenly scents even – and especially – among the prickliest thorns. This is what we Jews do. And it all began with the giving of the Torah on Sinai.
And it begins right now, on the Holy Day of Shavuot.“Two Jews, three opinions,” was invented back then. And though it sounds funny, it was quite a problem.
Through a fascinating anecdote about a controversial blog which advocated loving every Jew, even the criminal, this sermon examines Jewish divisiveness and closes with a heart-rending story of a man, a victim of the Holocaust, who taught his survivor son what it is to rebuke with love.