Friday, June 10, 2016

Shavuos 5776

Shavuos: A Deeper look:

The Festival of Shavuos is right around the corner!  It comes once a year for only two days (one day in Eretz Yisrael).  So let's get right into the insights.  This one is a preliminary to Shavuos:  Rebbe Avraham Greenbaum shlita asks; why is Shavuos specifically two days (or one), when the other two of the Shalosh Rigalim (Festivals of Pesach, Shavuos, and Succos) are seven or eight days long?  So he answers beautifully that maybe one of the reasons, is because before Shavuos, we are counting the Omer.  As we are told, the Jewish People went from the next-to-lowest level of spirituality, up to the highest level in the 49 days of the Omer.  And so thus, if we are, B'Eizer Hashem also going up in spirituality throughout the Omer, then we don't need more than one or two days of Shavuos to prepare ourselves spiritually, because we are already prepared from counting the Omer.  When we reach Shavuos, we are already supposed to be ready to be on a very high level of spirituality, to receive the Torah, so to speak.  This is something to think about.  We need to try to grow spiritually throughout the Omer, otherwise, we might not, Chas V'Shalom (Hashem forbid) be ready to 'receive the Torah' on Shavuos!  Notice that we count up, and not count down throughout the Omer.  I think that one of the messages behind this is to teach us that just as the Jewish People when coming out of Egypt rose spiritually during the Omer, so too, we all need to concentrate on growing spiritually throughout the entire Omer.  This goes for everyday as well.  But we can take the message for everyday from the Omer.  Now, when we count the final day of this year's Omer, we can maybe take the proper messages, hopefully, B'Eizer Hashem to heart.  Indeed, my great Rebbe, HaRav Chaim Eisenstein shlita discusses the concept of growing spiritually every day of the Omer, (and of course, every other day).  These insights and messages need to be taken to heart, thought about, and, B'Eizer Hashem, put into action. 

As we know, Hashem gave the Jews the Holy Torah on Shavuos.  This is a very important thing in history.  The Torah is such a great treasure!  Better than any other treasure.  All the gold coins in the world don't nearly compare to the Torah.  Hashem gave us this holy and precious treasure.  But what is terrible, is that, unfortunately, we don't seem to appreciate how great it is!  People scrutinize maps, sail to faraway places, toil, dig, etc. just to find a treasure of riches.  But we have the most valuable treasure in our midst - the Torah!  Do we not realize this?  Whoever wants this treasure can acquire it by learning it.  They can delve into it. In fact, the Tosher Rebbe (Rebbe Meshulam Feish Lowy zt"l) quotes from the holy Baal Shem Tov, who says that Hashem put a light into the Torah which, through it, one can see across the entire world.  When one learns Torah properly, they see that light in the Torah.  It is a holy, spiritual light.  (Though it is hard to really learn Torah properly).  We must never forget how important the Torah is, and we need to all appreciate it better.  This great treasure is ready for all of us together to come and learn.  May we all, B'Eizer Hashem (with the Help of Hashem) do just this, and realize how great a gift Hashem gave to us. 

Now, the great Rebbe Avraham Schorr shlita asks the common question; why did HaKadosh Baruch Hu give us the Torah in the midbar (wilderness)?  Many have asked this question.  But he gives a beautiful possible answer:  He quotes from the part in Parshas Eikev, (Devarim 8:15), where we are told that in the wilderness, there were snakes,  fiery serpents, scorpions, etc..  He says that the Sefarim HaKedoshim (holy books) tell us that these dangers, were not only physical dangers, but spiritual ones as well.  Because, as we know, a nachash (snake) represents evil, like the nachash in Parshas Bereisheis, etc.  So, in other words, there was great danger in the midbar (wilderness)!!  But, we're now back to the question; why, indeed, did Hashem give us the Torah in the midbar?  So he explains a very nice idea:  Nowadays, people might say that, "Oh, we can't keep the Torah to as high levels anymore.  Back when Hashem gave us the Torah, things were easy, but now things aren't!!"  But no!!  We cannot say this, he explains, because, back when Hashem gave us the Torah, there we're more dangers likely than nowadays!  The midbar was probably harder than our situation now.  So, in other words, we can never have any excuse to not keep the Torah to a high level. Every Jew must always keep Hashem's holy Torah well, and may Hashem help us all to do this, Amein. 

Rebbe Avraham Schorr shlita goes on to discuss another concept with Torah; the fact that it is sweeter than honey.  He asks though; how do we know that it is sweter than honey?  Because, he explains, we got it right after the Mon (manna). The Torah (Parshas Beshalach - Shemos 16:31) describes the Mon as tasting like a wafer with honey.  And, after we started to have that, a little while later, Hashem gave us something sweeter - the holy Torah.  But then he asks; what does it mean to us nowadays that the Torah is sweeter than honey?  He answers by quoting an explanation of the holy Chafetz Chaim zt"l:  The Chafetz Chaim quotes an opinion of the Rosh, that if you have honey, and there are little pieces of bee in it, you may still eat the honey.  Because the honey is so sweet, that it changes something that was issur (not allowed) to being muttar (allowed).  (Though we do not hold like him).  This, says the Chafetz Chaim, is the message for us:  The Torah is so sweet, that when one learns it, it can change them from being a bad person to a good person!!  From being bad to good.  It is so sweet!! This is very, very important to remember, always.  

Rebbe Schorr shlita then quotes from the Sefas Emes (Rebbe Yehuda Leiv Alter zt"l):  The Sefas Emes zt"l gives a mashal (parable) of a king who sends his soldiers into battle without weapons.  This is a terrible ruler obviously!  But Hashem, Who is the Av HaRachamim (Father of Mercy) gave us weapons obviously, to go and fight our war with the Yetzer hara (Evil inclination).  What weapons?  The Torah!  That is our weapon.  As Gemara Bava Basra 16a says: "HaKadosh Baruch Hu created the Yetzer hara; He created Torah for it as a remedy."  So in order to beat our Yetzer hara, we must learn Hashem's Holy Torah.  This is very important. 

This year, hopefully, we have climbed the levels during the Omer, and are ready to receive the Torah. We should be on a high enough spiritual level to be able to stay up all night learning, without distraction.  And we must take whatever time we have left before Shavuos to prepare ourselves properly to receive the Torah.  Baruch Hashem, this year, we have Shabbos right before Shavuos.  This will help us get in a proper mood for this Holiday, as we will be coming into it already in a spiritual mind-set, B'Eizer Hashem. 

I hope that these insights help to enrich everybody's Shavuos!  Please feel free to comment.  And I wish every single Jew a wonderful, wonderful Shavuos.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 

Let us end off with a prayer:  Please Hashem, help us all be ready to receive the Torah this year!  And please send Mashiach very, very speedily in our days.  Amein. 

Refoel Berel

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