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Shavuos: Ancestry And Progeny


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My uncle, Rabbi Yaakov Cohn, once asked me the following question: The Mishna[2] records that the world is judged on four occasions. On Pesach the world’s grain supply is judged, on Shavuos the world’s fruit supply is judged, on Rosh Hashanah the deeds of man are judged, and on Sukkos the world’s water supply is judged. During three of the four aforementioned times, there is a special prayer inserted in reference to the judgment occurring that day. On Pesach the “prayer for dew” (Tal) is recited, for dew directly affects the future production from the earth. On Sukkos the “prayer for rain” (Geshem) is recited, and on Rosh Hashanah we repeatedly refer to the awesome personal judgment transpiring in the celestial courts that day. Why do we not add a special prayer for fruit during Shavuos?

I humbly offer the following answer: Parshas Bechukosai commences with a detailed list of the beautiful blessings of prosperity and goodness that G-d promises to endow Klal Yisroel if they properly adhere to the Torah and mitzvos. “If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them, then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit.[3]

Rashi explains that, “If you will follow My decrees” is a reference to engaging in intensive Torah study. Thus, when one commits himself to rigorous and exhaustive Torah study he is ensured all of the blessings that follow.

With this in mind, there is no reason to recite an extra prayer regarding fruits on Shavuos. The holiday itself is dedicated to our recommitment to intense Torah-study and the acceptance of the yoke of Torah in every facet of our lives. The very essence of the holiday itself is therefore the greatest merit for our fruits and all other blessings. “If you will follow My decrees… the tree of the field will give its fruit.”

The holiday of Shavuos is about bringing the past and future together in the present. When we commit ourselves to the ideals and values of our predecessors, we are simultaneously investing in ourselves and our progeny those same ideals and values. It is the continuation of the transmission of our heritage. It is the continued nurturance of the tree of life and the fruits which it produces. It is the guarantee that our past greatness will eventually herald the greatness of the future which will overshadow all that we have merited until now.

 


[1] [It goes without saying that today many families are challenged by external influences and, at times, the conduct of one’s children is beyond the influence of parents. Still, more often than not, especially in regard to adult children this rule bears a great deal of veracity. Generally, at least to some extent, a child will eventually live in the footsteps of his parents.]

[2] Rosh Hashanah 16a

[3] Vaykira 26:3-4

About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.


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