Shavuos in the Vineyard

     Just before spring, the vines are still damp brown sticks that rise above a wet carpet of green grass.  By summer, these colors are reversed.  The grass is drying up, turning shades of tan and giving off its summer fragrance, while the green shoots of the vines get longer and longer, the leaves multiply, and the patterned rows of lush tangled greenery hang above the pale drying earth.
     Early in the spring the vine draws its nourishment from within, generating new buds and shoots out of stored nutrients.  Weeks later, spread out in the warm sun, the leaves soak up the sunlight.  It's the sun's energy that transforms the raw materials of the earth into abundant new growth of roots, branches, leaf and flower.
     At this time of year, weeks after the awakening of new life in the vines and seven weeks after the commemoration of the new life and freedom of the Jewish people at the holiday of Pesach, the holiday of Shavuos commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  It is precisely this revelation from above, like the sunlight on the vine, that allows the newly free Jewish people to make use of their freedom, to exercise their thought, speech and deeds for good and holy works.  With the guidance of the Torah we can transform everyday experience into spiritual nutrition and spiritual growth.
     The holiday of Shavuos is connected to Pesach, to the freedom of the Jewish people, as the summer is to the spring in the vineyard.  The awakening of new life becomes furious growth as it integrates the light from above and the material nourishment from below.  Like the vines baking in the summer sun, the Jewish people can now grow to the spiritual fruition for which they were created.