by Rabbi Nussbaum
VOLUME 96 NUMBER 9
May 28, 2020
Sivan 5, 5780
Candlelighting Time 8:01 PM
Of course, Shavuos is a time when we focus and spend an inordinate amount of time studying Torah and absorbing its profound wisdom. After all, Torah is the lifeline of our nation and without it we would be like any other people on the planet. However, with Torah we ascend to an elevated status with a rich legacy rooted in thousands of years of illustrious heritage. We have become princes and notables unto the nations of the world and we garner respect from all for our accomplishments and tenacity with which we have guarded our noble historic inheritance. However, Shavuos is much more than that!
On this Yom Tov we bring the two loaves of bread made from specially sifted wheat. It is the very first offering made from wheat of the season. The Torah refers to it as a new meal offering consisting of the first harvest of wheat for the year. S’fas Emes delves in to the question as to why we bring two loaves. His insight gives us a fascinating perspective in to the tremendous gift that Shavuos is and provides us with guidance to properly observe the fundamental basis of this Yom Tov.
Torah gives us a two-fold mission and they are elaborately entwined. Not only did we merit on Shavuos this tremendous gift of Torah, but additionally and perhaps more important Hashem descended on Mt. Sinai with a revelation which revolutionized the relationship between man and his creator. No longer would Hashem only be viewed as a celestial force with which we can’t forge an intimate connection. Rather, we, mere mortals, created from the dust of the earth would be able to associate through the prism of Torah with Hashem. And that proximity of relationship facilitated an incredible elevation of the spirit. The two loaves of bread that we bring on Shavuos reflect that we are close to Hashem and He is close to us. However, this allusion predicates that we observe the protocol which will allow this to transpire.
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus in his sefer on davening cites Rambam in ‘Guide for the Perplexed’ who states that Hashem ‘contacts’ us through the medium of our mind. It is at that level of connection that we merit to ‘merge’ and sense that are association with Hashem is actual and ongoing. He continues that we have that opportunity to either enhance our relationship with Hashem or we can weaken and sever it. The deciding factor is our utilization of love for Hashem which augments our respect for Hashem and the Torah that we study. However, if we weaken our grasp, Rambam concludes, that as we abandon Him so to Hashem will leave us as well. Although it is always possible to reestablish the connection with Hashem, however it is easier to maintain that which is already instituted rather than starting from fresh. Therefore, Shavuos is an excellent opportunity to strengthen our association with Hashem as we delve with intensity in to Torah and its commentaries. Many have the custom to study throughout the entire night and daven early in the morning. Although this is certainly strenuous, but the satisfaction that one derives with such an event of ongoing Torah study and greeting the day of Yom Tov with our heartfelt prayers is an experience that is exhilarating and inspiring. And once the momentum has been set, if we can continue to study with fervor the entire Yom Tov it fortifies our spiritual essence and carries us further to desire even more Torah and its study.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
In the morning we recite that Hashem said and did referring to the creation of the world. Then we say that He decrees and maintains an allusion to the Ten Commandments that we received on Shavuos. The revelation of Torah on Mt. Sinai is the lifeline of the world.