Shavuot is coming. I will reflect on Mt. Sinai and the upper room. I’ll read longingly of mighty rushing winds and flaming tongues. I’ll spend the night learning two doors down from the synagogue in a house we have been working to convert into proper a study hall; we’ll read megilat Ruth and remember her descendant King David who was born and also died on this holiday. Like all Torah, the connections between the customs and texts related to Shavuot spin off like fractals, each one giving birth to countless more.
It’s from a midrash that we learn King David died on Shavuot. The only time his death is mentioned in the NT is in the second chapter of Acts during Peter’s addressing of the masses on that same day. It’s not a coincidence. Thousands gathered to hear the student of a controversial king. They were in the upper room of the Temple and Peter poured out his heart, challenging anyone who would refute the legitimacy of His reign.
On the anniversary of King David’s death we read the book of Ruth which was written by the prophet Samuel in an attempt to defend G-d’s chosen. It wasn’t enough that David had been raised in the fields, believed by his own father to be the product of infidelity; the entire nation was unsure of his questionable pedigree, they doubted even the permissibility of his lineage.
The line of Mashiach is called in to question today and he is also called a child of adultery. If the prophet Samuel were here he would defend his line as well, not to mention his birth. Samuel had also been the product of a miraculous birth. Hannah was barren, and the prophet was only born after his mother prayed so fervently she appeared to be drunk…drunk…like the 120 in the upper room.