Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dvar Torah for Shavuos

       As Shavuos once again comes upon us, we continue to search for ways to reconnect to the original Shavuos, when the entire Bnei Yisrael stood by Har Sinai and accepted the Torah with full hearts. Even though we study Torah every day, every Shavuos we try to make it as much a part of us as it was by Har Sinai. We want to go beyond our daily observance and study, and show Hashem how much we truly appreciate the Torah and its importance in our lives. In this dvar Torah, we will try to capture that feeling.
       There is a famous medrash that tells a story that before Hashem offered the Torah to Bnei Yisrael, He went around to all the nations of the world and offered it to them. Each nation asked what responsibilities accepting the Torah entailed, and Hashem offered each nation one obligation that went against their natural tendencies. For example, when Hashem offered it to the nation of Esav, He told them of the prohibition against killing. Esav, being an aggressive and bloodthirsty nation, did not accept the Torah. Upon going to Bnei Yisrael, we know that they said “Na’aseh V’Nishma!” without hesitation; they trusted Hashem that this gift would be the best thing for them, even if they did not know beforehand what it consisted of. This was how they showed their dedication to Hashem, by accepting the Torah without questions.
       This medrash begs a question: we know that Hashem had promised the Avos that their children would be His chosen nation, and we know that part of being the chosen nation was accepting the Torah. So let’s say the other nations that Hashem had offered the Torah to would have accepted, would Hashem have given it to them? Absolutely not! The Torah belonged to us, it was our decision to accept it or not! So what is the meaning behind this medrash? What is the value of this story?
       Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, in his sefer Kedushas Levi, offers a beautiful explanation to this medrash. As we know, Hashem always prepares the cure before He brings the disease. In this case, He knew that eventually we would go into exile and live among the nations. Having to live in exile for thousands of years, inevitably we would begin to establish relationships with our host nations. Explains the Kedushas Levi, even when a Jew is discussing matters of this world, his soul is constantly seeking spirituality. Goyim, however, have no personal or genetic connection to Torah, and therefore, do not naturally seek spirituality the same way we do. Can you imagine having to do business with someone who all the way through has no innate desire to grow spiritually, to connect with Hashem? We would go completely crazy!
       Therefore, Hashem did us a tremendous favor. He went around to the nations of the world and showed them His beautiful Torah. He showed them the deep wisdom it contained, and the tremendous spiritual heights to be gained through it; and then showed them the tremendous responsibility it entailed. The nations were drawn in by the spirituality, but had to decline due to the obligations.
       However, the desire for Torah did not completely leave them. It was passed on through the generations until their descendents, deep down, without even knowing it, harbored a desire for Torah.
       There is a famous vort from the Arizal that the reason why the Jews were spread all over the world in exile is because each country has a few sparks of kedushah contained within its residents, and we need to experience those sparks in order to complete our own levels of kedushah.
       When the Jews arrived in exile and began dealing with the Goyim, instead of dealing with people devoid of any spiritual conscience, they met people with a spark of kedushah hidden within. But not just any spark, these sparks originated from a desire for Torah.   
       The Kedushas Levi continues, that by Matan Torah, Hashem brought this feeling of desire for Torah from the nations, as well as the desire of the angels for Torah (The gemarah explains that the angels wanted to receive the Torah but couldn’t since the Torah was written for human beings.), down to Har Sinai with Him. These desires combined with Bnei Yisrael’s desire for the Torah to create an atmosphere where everyone present felt the full impact of what it would mean to receive the Torah.
       When we try to reconnect to the original Matan Torah, this deep desire to be a part of Torah is the feeling we are looking for. This is how we can recapture the true experience of Har Sinai; and we can do it on this day of Shavuos, the anniversary of this great occasion.
       May we all feel the true desire for Torah, may we all appreciate the Torah for what it truly is, and may we all be zoche to a true Kabbalas Hatorah this Chag.

Chag Sameach!     

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