VOLUME 106 NUMBER 1
Iyar 28, 5783
May 19, 2023
Candlelighting Time 7:53 PM
The Yom Tov of Shavuos is almost upon us and we need to gear up for this special day when we received the Torah so many years ago and again we will not just commemorate that day but actually reenact the experience. S’fas Emes emphasizes that the Shabbos before Shavuos is significant in our preparation for this powerful Yom Tov. They encamped around Mt. Sinai after they had ‘rested’ the Shabbos before. When they approached the mountain before they received the Torah, our Sages teach us that they were like ‘one person, with one heart.’ Divergence didn’t exist rather they coalesced together as one cohesive unit. This incredible unification of the people was inspired by the sanctity of Shabbos. Perhaps we may understand this that it is the physical which tends to create divisions between people. Whether it is the physical appearance or the individual pursuits that seem to split us, the fundamental cause is a lack of spiritual engagement. Shabbos is the ultimate opportunity to participate in those matters that transcend the more secular involvement of this world. We spend more time davening, we are involved in studying Torah and even when we eat the three meals on Shabbos they are accompanied with the beautiful zemiros that we sing that enhance our enjoyment as we partake in the special delicacies that we prepare for Shabbos. It is a day that the normal humdrum of this world doesn’t encroach upon us and therefore its impact on our lives is dulled. When we live in that dimension our relationships with our fellow man become appreciably improved and of a better quality. And that is precisely why the Torah was given in the desert because in the barren territory of the desert it is there that we negate those detrimental outside influences that can be so damaging and harmful to our spiritual well-being. In the Haggadah we recite that Hashem gave us Shabbos and brought us near to Mt. Sinai. We are not discussing the chronological sequence of events rather the progression of experiencing Shabbos in the proper fashion and then advancing to the next stage which is receiving the Torah.
Netziv in his preface to sefer Bamidbar mentions that our connection to Hashem in the desert was of a special nature. After we entered into the Land of Israel, we embarked upon a more ‘normal’ connection with Hashem without the miraculous care of the Clouds of Glory that accompanied us in the desert, the Manna, and the well of Miriam that supplied us. That was a unique time that we apparently merited to perhaps jump start our relationship with Hashem and once we achieved an extremely balanced and stabilized posture, we were then capable of living within the regular standards of a ordinary and typical society. However, the Torah was presented to us when we were indeed at a very high level of spirituality and we can attain such exalted plateaus when we focus on the theme of Shabbos and attempt to imbibe its exceptional and distinctive aura. Therefore, it is vital that specifically this Shabbos before this august Yom Tov of Shavuos that we begin to upgrade our standards of studying Torah and fulfilling mitzvos as an appropriate entry into this majestic day of receiving the Torah again this year as we did so long ago at Mt. Sinai!
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
When we traveled in the desert, the Mishkan was in the middle of the camp. The sanctuary contained the Aron with the two tablets that Moshe had brought from Hashem. It is only when Torah is in our midst that we can travel through life and be successful.