Sunday, June 16, 2024
Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Shavuot – The Democratization of Knowledge

Jeffrey Levine
The Times of Israel, June 9, 2024

“Trust, as a path to enlightenment, often leads to vulnerability, which in turn fosters bravery. Bravery cultivates connection, connection leads to purpose, and purpose enriches life.”

As we approach Shavuot, we commemorate the momentous occasion of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks profoundly articulated that what was given at Sinai was not merely a set of laws but a revolutionary shift—the democratization of knowledge. This pivotal event marked the end of literacy and wisdom as a priestly elite’s sole privilege. Instead, it heralded a new era where the divine teachings were accessible to every individual, signifying a radical transformation in the dissemination and ownership of knowledge.

In this article, we also expand on the impact on Rabbi Sacks’s version of the Covenant, based on mutual responsibility and destiny. This Covenant leads to seeking a kinder world. In a separate article, I explored the Book of Ruth as a book of Kindness and how it can be used as an ancient text to understand the UN SDGs, which is the world vision for Tikkun Olam, and how this manifests itself in the concept of ESG.


Historical Context: Knowledge as Power

Historically, religious authorities often restricted access to sacred texts, maintaining power through controlled knowledge. For centuries, the church forbade the translation of the Bible into vernacular languages, effectively monopolizing religious and intellectual life. This control ensured that religious knowledge and interpretation remained the exclusive domain of the clergy, preventing common people from engaging directly with their sacred texts. Remarkably, it wasn’t until 1870 that compulsory education became the norm in England, a leading imperial power. This marked a significant stride towards widespread literacy and learning, dismantling the barriers that had long confined knowledge to an elite few.

… [To read the full article, click here]

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