VOLUME 66 NUMBER 1
May 10, 2013
Sivan 1, 5773
Candle-lighting Time: 7:45 PM
- The Holiday of Shavuos is celebrated this coming Tuesday night through Thursday night, which commemorated the Giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Customs of the holiday include eating dairy foods like cheesecake and staying up all night Tuesday night learning Torah to show our love our Torah.
- Yizkor is said during morning services on Thursday.
- Ladies, register now for Kosher by Design in Denver May 29th. Tickets are going quickly!
This One’s for You
Every dog has its day. Every child loves to play. And every yid has his pey, or fey or at the very least a hey.
The Talmud in Tractate Shabbos tells us that the name Yisroel is an acronym for the words, ‘yesh shishim revivos osios latorah,’ meaning ‘there are 600,000 letters in the Torah.’ These 600,000 letters are representative of the 600,000 Jews that were counted in this week’s parsha, Parshas Bamidbar. Add it all up and it means that every Jew has his or her own letter in the Torah.
This doesn’t mean you should bring your scissors and a doggie bag to shul this Wednesday for Shavuos. But it does mean that when you get there, you may feel like you’ve already been there for thirty-three hundred years. Each one of us has a direct connection to G-d’s Torah, a unique place in the unfolding of His will for mankind, and the source of that connection is Shavuos.
When we write a Torah scroll, it must be written perfectly and completely. If even a single letter is missing the Torah scroll is considered invalid until it is repaired. So too, if even one Jew is missing, the Torah is not complete.
When the Jewish People pulled up in front of Mt. Sinai, the verse says, “…and he camped there around the mountain.” It doesn’t say ‘they’ camped, it says ‘he’ camped. They were all present and accounted for, with such unity that they were like a single person.
And so we need to be today. Every Jew, man or woman, parent or child, learned or unlearned, impassioned or nonplussed—unified around our Torah.
Leave your scissors at home, but come look for your letter just the same. Prepare to look deeply into the Torah, to gaze back to the very root of your soul, side by side with the rest of the Jewish People.
Have a wonderful Shavuos!
THE RIGHT STANCE
We stand on the threshold of Shavuos which is just days away. We must prepare to greet the Yom Tov in the proper frame of mind. Although many consider the blintzes and cheese cake to be the mainstay of Shavuos, we can’t forget that this Yom Tov is really defined by the intensity of our Torah study. If we have not been particularly engrossed until now, how can we realize our potential and begin anew on Shavuos?
We know that the first born of our nation were initially chosen to be the spiritual mentors of our people. They were saved from destruction in Egypt when the Egyptian first born were killed and therefore Hashem designated them to be His. They would serve in this highly regarded capacity and guide the people to ever greater heights in their dedication to Hashem. In describing the special status of the first born, Sforno comments that they are the most preeminent of people, therefore, they are viewed as leaders. Hence when the Egyptians were punished, the Egyptian first born received the brunt of the punishment reserved for their nation. Subsequently, our nation’s first born who were saved that night became dedicated to lead our nation and become role models for others.
Prominence which incorporates a leadership role is key in our preparation for Yom Tov. Although we do not have to feel that we must lead others, nonetheless, a sense of importance and distinction can have a strong impact upon us. If we view ourselves as essential and illustrious, it serves as an impetus to retain our standing. Therefore, it is quite easy to understand that Torah study which is ‘uppermost’ in the ‘mind’ of Hashem should be our objective.
Indeed, when we received the Torah, we were called a nation of princes, we were addressed as royalty, and therefore it was suitable for us to accept the Torah. After all, shouldn’t only the finest be allowed access to Hashem’s word? In the words of the Talmud, we are also referred to as royal family. The point is the same, when we view ourselves as special, then we will conduct ourselves accordingly. And truthfully speaking, if we actually understand the important role that we as a nation play in the world, then we do deserve to be viewed as royalty.
The Midrash explains that it is for the sake of the Jewish nation that the entire world was created. This alludes not only to the world but to the entire universe and all that is contained within. The billions and trillions of stars were formed only for the sake of the Jewish people. The intent of the Midrash is to appreciate and value each and every action that we perform. Hashem’s ‘desire’ to bless the world in general and our nation specifically depends upon the mitzvos that we perform and the Torah that we study. Every word of Torah study fuels the engine that supplies the world with its sustenance just as every morsel of food nourishes the body which consumes it.
Therefore, when we question ourselves, what can I do to get ready for Yom Tov, the answer may be simple but yet complex. Even though each person is only one cog in the proverbial machine, however, the significance of each gear that powers our people is not to be underestimated. The value of each of us and the power of each action that we perform is inestimable, serving as a powerful conduit of Hashem’s sovereignty and omnipotence in this world.
Joke of the Week
A Question for the Rabbis
“And they [the Levites] will not come and see the sacred [furniture] being packed, and they will not die” (Numbers 4:20). The question has been asked to numerous rabbis in past as to whether one may eulogize a righteous person who specifically asked not to be eulogized, and opinions vary (See Responsa Yabia Omer, 9:33). Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg eulogized Rabbi Meir Wertheim despite his having requested in his will that there be no eulogies. Amongst his numerous arguments, Rabbi Sofer cites the verse in the Torah portion this week as a hint to the obligation to eulogize a righteous person and reads the verse as follows: And they, the Jews, shall not just see the holy one be “packed” and die; rather instead of standing by silently, they should eulogize him (notes, Derashot Chatam Sofer, p. 393, par. 2).
BYTE FOR SHABBOS
When the national census was taken in this week’s parsha, each person’s name was mentioned and recorded. During their sojourn in the desert, each person’s name defined his or her unique character and individuality.
GOOD SHABBOS AND HAPPY SHAVUOS!