As the countdown of the Omer wraps up, our excitement intensifies and anticipation soars. After having celebrated our deliverance from captivity on Pesach, we are granted a window of opportunity to search our hearts and cleanse ourselves of impurities. This refining process, repeated yearly, renders us fit to commemorate that pivotal time in the history of our nation – Kabbalas Torah – when Hashem bestowed on us the treasure trove He had reserved for His Chosen People since Brias Ha’Olam, the creation of the world.
We bentch Rosh Chodesh Sivan this coming Shabbos, Parshas Bamidbar, Rosh Chodesh falling on Yom Shishi (Friday, May 30). Sivan is regarded as the most significant month of the Jewish year, Rosh Chodesh Sivan marking the day the Yidden actually arrived at Midbar Sinai.
“Keshoshana bein hachochim…” – like a rose among the thorns (Shir Hashirim 2:2).When the Jews declared Naaseh v’Nishmah without wavering, Hashem determined that in the merit of His one sweet-smelling rose, the world would be saved. Hence we adorn our homes and shuls with fragrant blooms.
Among the events that transpired in Sivan: the 3rd of the month marked the start of Shloshes Yemei Hagbalah (three days of separation in preparation for the giving of the Torah); on the 5th, Reuven, the eldest of the Shevatim, wandered out during the wheat harvest and picked duda’im (mandrakes) which he presented to his mother, Leah; Mattan Torah took place on the 6th of Sivan, on a Shabbos; the 15th of Sivan marks the birth and yahrtzeit of Yehuda ben Yaakov, who lived 119 years; the 23rd of Sivan saw Mordechai and Esther documenting the repeal of the evil Haman’s decree.
Tzaddikim whose yahrtzeits are observed in Sivan: R’ Yisrael Hager, the Ahavas Yisrael of Vizhnitz and R’ Chaim Elazar Shapira, the Minchas Elazar of Munkacz (2 Sivan); Dovid HaMelech ben Yishai and R’ Avrohom Mordechai Alter, the Imrei Emes of Ger (6 Sivan); R’ Yisroel ben Eliezer – Baal Shem Tov and R’ Avraham ben Avraham, a Ger Tzedek (7 Sivan); R’ Chaim of Volozhin (14 Sivan); R’ Shimon ben Gamliel and R’ Yishmael Kohen Gadol (25 Sivan); R’ Yonasan ben Uziel (26 Sivan); R’ Chanina ben Tradyon (27 Sivan); R’ Meir Rosenbaum of Kretchnif (30 Sivan).
Not to chas v’shalom diminish the luster of other elite souls who have graced us with their presence in our midst… but as the reading of Megillas Rus on Shavuos attests to, Dovid HaMelech left an imprint on this world that is unrivaled. And it all began with the compassion and selflessness of the megilla’s heroine – Dovid’s great grandmother, Rus. A profound lesson for us to glean: the reward for gemilus chesed (as Rus had demonstrated to her mother-in-law, Naomi) is huge.
And so are the benefits – the dividends, if you will – of reciting Tehillim, as the following incident reveals…
It happened relatively recently and involved a woman who resides in Gush Etzion (we’ll call her Rose). As she tells it, she was driving home when traffic suddenly came to a halt due to a car accident ahead. Rose was startled to come upon the sight of a mangled car blocking the road, and a body covered with a sheet lying nearby.
Rose was overwhelmed with pity for the victim’s next of kin. Did the person have a wife, a husband…? Perhaps she, or he, was single. Then again, there might be a family… Would there be orphans, bereaved parents…? Rose’s unsettling thoughts prompted her to step out of her car, her small Tehillim in hand. She just stood there and prayed and cried. When traffic started up again, she continued on her way.
A couple of weeks later when Rose’s home phone rang, she was greeted by an unfamiliar woman’s voice. The woman wondered whether she was the one who had stood at the side of the road on that specific day (of the accident) and said Tehillim.
When Rose confirmed that it was she, the young woman had some story to tell. In a voice choked with emotion, she said she had been the one lying there, covered by a sheet and assumed dead. As they waited for an ambulance to arrive, this girl experienced a “clinical death.” She felt her soul leave her body and was able to view from above everything that was transpiring around her below.
She saw her demolished car, the people who busied themselves on the scene, and the long line of cars stuck in the traffic jam. She even saw her own body, covered, on the ground.
“When you started to read the Tehillim,” continue the young lady, “all the holy letters flew around me, giving me a misty feeling and pulling me downwards. At that moment, a Magen David ambulance arrived, and the medics decided to try to revive me. They tried again and again, in an attempt to start my breathing and to get my heart pumping … and all during that time I felt the letters of the Tehillim wrapped around me in a pleasant light, bringing my spirit back to me.”
The girl was calling Rose to thank her for reciting the Tehillim that had saved her life. Rose was speechless. She had never realized that reading Tehillim yielded such power. The girl who had remarkably survived the accident had previously not led a religious lifestyle – which unsurprisingly changed after this event. (She had located Rose by making many endless inquiries of people who may have been on the scene at the time.)
Since this amazing experience, Rose urges everyone she knows and comes across to recite Tehillim on a regular basis, for “the Almighty is sitting high above, waiting for us, His children, to ask for what we need. And He, the merciful Father, is always ready to give it to us and to forgive us for our sins.”