Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Shavuos

       As Shavuos comes around once again, we must find ways to connect to the greatest gift Hashem gave us, the Torah. The primary way of connecting is through study, i.e. showing how much we appreciate this great gift. However, even for those who cannot or don’t study it, there are other ways to use it to connect to Hashem. Not only the Torah itself, but the reality surrounding it is full of connections. By understanding this reality, we can cultivate a connection.
       The last parsha in the Torah is Vezos Habracha, where Moshe blesses the different shevatim before his death. The parsha begins with a reference to the giving of the Torah. “וַיֹּאמַ֗ר יְהֹוָ֞ה מִסִּינַ֥י בָּא֙ וְזָרַ֤ח מִשֵּׂעִיר֙ לָ֔מוֹ הוֹפִ֨יעַ֙ מֵהַ֣ר פָּארָ֔ן וְאָתָ֖ה מֵרִֽבְבֹ֣ת קֹ֑דֶשׁ מִֽימִינ֕וֹ אֵ֥שׁ דָּ֖ת לָֽמוֹ” “And he (Moshe) said, ‘Hashem came from Sinai and shown forth from Seir to them; He appeared from Mount Paran and came with some of the holy myriads; from His right hand was a fiery law for them.” (Devarim 33:2). The various commentaries explain that this pasuk comes before the blessings of Moshe because the entire reason why the nation could be blessed was because they had received the Torah.
       However, a part of the pasuk doesn’t seem accurate. It reads, “Hashem came from Sinai”; Hashem didn’t come from Sinai to deliver the Torah, He came towards Sinai and delivered it on top! The pasuk seems to have it backwards. Rashi explains that it means to say that Hashem brought His Shechinah towards the Bnei Yisrael, similar to a groom going to meet his bride. But the pasuk could have said instead that Hashem came from heaven towards Bnei Yisrael. Why say Sinai when that is not an accurate statement?
       The Kli Yakar explains with another similarly perplexing statement. The very beginning of Avos reads, “משה קבל תורה מסיני” “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai” (Avos 1:1). What does it mean Moshe received the Torah from Sinai? The more correct version should read either he accepted it on Sinai or from Hashem; what is the meaning behind this phrasing? The answer to both these question lies in the famous medrash why Har Sinai was chosen as the mountain upon which to give the Torah.
       Even though there were many other taller and more beautiful mountains, Hashem chose the small, plain Sinai to make a point. The Torah is the greatest gift imaginable, within it are contained all the secrets of the universe and receiving it is the greatest proof of Hashem’s love. With all this significance, it is vital to remain exceedingly humble while possessing it. This is what is mean by Hashem coming from Sinai; He was showing Bnei Yisrael the proper way to accept the Torah. And the Mishna shows us that Moshe, who the Torah teaches was the most humble man ever, internalized this lesson and accepted the Torah not on Sinai, but from Sinai. The message of the mountain was received.
       Shavuos has a specific goal attached to it, to connect ourselves to the Torah in the best way possible. This is not accomplished only by showing our love for it through study, but in showing that we truly internalize the messages it gives us. Let us learn from Hashem, Moshe, and Har Sinai, and work this Shavuos to internalize Torah in every way.

Chag Sameach!

Click here for a Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Bamidbar

Click here for a previous year's Dvar Torah for Shavuos

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

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