VOLUME 71 NUMBER 2 ~ May 30, 2014 ~ Sivan 1, 5774
Find Your Letter
by Rabbi Raphael Leban
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 correspond to the 600,000 Jews that were counted in this week’s and last week’s parsha. 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 Tuesday night 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!
by Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum of Yeshiva Toras Chaim
The inauguration of the Mishkan was such a significant historical event that it even created a stir in Heaven. The princes of each tribe gathered to decide how they would each play a lead role in the incredible gathering. One of the princes suggested that they should all bring the exact same sacrifices and gifts for the Mishkan so as to avoid any trace of jealousy amongst them. The Midrash comments that Hashem ‘derived’ tremendous pleasure from their display of harmony and love to insure that dissension would not result from their donations for the Mishkan’s inauguration.
As reward the princes were permitted to bring their sacrifices even on Shabbos. The Halacha allows only a communal offering to be brought on Shabbos, whereas the sacrificial gifts of the princes were considered individual offerings. Therefore, they were technically now allowed to be brought on Shabbos. Due to their incredible exhibition of unity they merited that special provision. The Chofetz Chaim adds that in addition due to their expression of accord they each had a parsha in the Torah detailing their gifts to the Mishkan. Each year we read again of their magnanimous donation that they made so many hundreds of years ago.
We know the enormous sanctity of Shabbos and how careful we must be in its observance. We certainly admire the princes dedication to unity and harmony, but nonetheless, why would Hashem allow the desecration of Shabbos? If we examine the theme of Shabbos perhaps we can explain the Midrash.
Shabbos is that one day of the week when we put forth our spiritual side and attempt to sideline the physical. Although we eat three special meals on Shabbos, the emphasis is to elevate one’s self and enhance one’s service to Hashem. Therefore, in order to accomplish that goal, we must minimize ourselves and on the contrary focus on others and their needs. The more one is attending to his fellow man, the more so he can eventually diminish his own ego and dedicate himself to what Hashem wants of him.
With this in mind, perhaps we can understand why Hashem allowed the princes to bring their sacrifices even on Shabbos. They had reached such a level of interpersonal relationships and their sensitivity for others was so heightened, that they ‘observed’ Shabbos when they offered their gifts for the Mishkan. Therefore, since their conduct was so akin to the theme of Shabbos Hashem allowed them to bring their sacrifices on Shabbos.
Soon we will celebrate the Yom Tov of Shavuos. One of the prerequisites for receiving the Torah was the fact that the entire nation was united to their very core. Therefore, the Torah states that when the encamped by Mt. Sinai in preparation for reception of the Torah, it was as though they were ‘one person with one heart’. This lesson is clearly illustrated when we read about the twelve princes and their gifts for the Mishkan. The essence of the Mishkan was the Aron which contained the two tablets with the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments allude to the entire 613 mitzvos which Hashem instructed us to adhere to. Therefore, it is not coincidental that this message is mentioned as we approach Shavuos. On the contrary it gives us the ability to place ourselves in the appropriate mind set so that we will be ready when Yom Tov comes.
Joke of the Week
Guy comes home for dinner during the Omer and asks his wife, “Honey, what’s for dinner tonight?” She replies, “Last night we had chicken.”
(If you don’t get it, ask someone about the Mitzvah of Counting the Omer.)
Byte for Shabbos
The episode of Ruth and her journey to Judaism has become one of the books of our Sacred writings. A person has the ability to recreate him or herself to the extent that it will be recorded for all posterity.