The upcoming holiday of Shavuot is called “Atzeret” in the Torah, which implies an ending. What is Shavuot the ending of? The holiday of Passover. We count seven weeks (hence the name “shavuot – weeks”) or 49 days after the first day of Passover and on the fiftieth day we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai and the offering of the first fruits (Bikurim) in Jerusalem. The highlight of the Shavuot offerings in the Temple are two loaves of bread, representing the newly harvested wheat crop.
While Shavuot is connected to Passover, the respective holiday offerings are diametrically opposed. On Passover we destroy all of our “Chametz” (bread, leavened products) but on Shavuot we use bread as the focal point of worship and celebration. What a change!
Why we make that change is beyond the scope of this post, although it is related to the growth process we undergo in the seven weeks of counting between the two holidays. The point I’d like to focus on here is not the meaning behind the change but the rather the change itself.
The very thing that we held in contempt and were forbidden from even possessing is suddenly turned into the object of our celebration. The lesson of Shavuot is that just because we once made a decision to hate doesn’t mean we can’t change our view and decide to love.
Many of you will be celebrating Shavuot with other singles, either at large organized events or smaller informal ones. You’re going to see lots of people that you already “wrote off” as potential dating and relationship partners. You’re going to continue in that line of thinking and exclusively focus on meeting new people.
I can totally relate to that strategy, having followed it so many times myself. But I think it might be wrong. Yes, you should try to meet new people…there’s nothing wrong with that. But the lesson of Shavuot is that just because you wrote someone off in the past doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind now.
No, this doesn’t mean that you weren’t right the first time around. There are instances where the dealbreakers are clear and impossible to overcome. There are also plenty of instances when you passed on someone for no good reason other than you just weren’t feeling it or the timing was just not right. These are the cases that I believe deserve reevaluation.
I don’t want you to view this “reevaluation” as a step towards “settling”. I don’t believe in being with (and marrying) someone you aren’t truly in love with. The loaves of bread offered on Shavuot weren’t viewed as a “cop-out” after so stringently avoiding them on Passover. They were brought amidst tremendous joy and celebration. That man or woman you wrote off for no good reason might be the source of your own joy. You’ll never know unless you try.
Years ago, while I was visiting Israel, the head of the Yeshiva I had studied at suggested that I go out with a certain girl. I told him that I had already dated her a few years ago and hadn’t been interested. He responded, “Just because you made a mistake once doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistake again.” (those were more or less his exact words) His words struck a chord, and I went out with her again.
No, I can’t say there was a happing ending to that story. I still wasn’t interested. But the lesson I learned was still valid: it sometimes is very worthwhile to give things a second chance.
This Shavuot is an opportunity to not only meet new people but to also reevaluate the ones you haven’t paid attention to for much too long. Maybe they’ve changed? Maybe you have? Maybe (hopefully) you’ve grown and matured over the years and are now at a much different place relating to dating and relationships than you were back then?
Consider reevaluating and giving things a chance. If you were right the first time around, then you’ll wipe away any shred of doubt and be able to move on without ever looking back again. But if you were wrong, you might just give yourself a chance at true love.