web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



What Did You Take Away From Shavuos?


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Share Button

The beautiful Yom Tov of Shavuos has passed, but our Yamim Tovim never fade. We are charged to carry them with us throughout the year. While this holds true for all our Yamim Tovim, it is especially valid for Shavuos. This is the one day for which our Torah does not designate a specific time or date. Shavuos is “Z’man Matan Toraseinu,” the season of receiving our Torah, and that is an eternal happening, which every one of us must re-experience and relive every moment of our lives. “Not with our forefathers alone did Hashem seal the Covenant, but with us, we who are here, all of us alive today (Deuteronomy 5).

But if that be so, if all our souls were at Mount Sinai, if all of us heard the Voice of G-d, why don’t we all feel the sanctity of that moment in the same manner? Why are we not all deeply inspired? And more, since our sages teach that every time we genuinely undertake a mitzvah and plumb the depth of G-d’s holy words, we can relive Sinai, why is that we fail to feel the fervor, the zeal, and the love?

To understand, let us carefully study the passage in the Torah that describes Ma’amad Har Sinai, Revelation: “The appearance of the Glory of Hashem was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of all the children of Israel” (Exodus 24).

At first glance, it is difficult for us to understand how G-d could appear to the people like “a consuming fire,” especially since we know that G-d has no image, shape or form. So what does the Torah wish to impart to us through this description?

Fire interacts with various materials in different ways. Some materials, such as oil, straw, paper, etc., are highly combustible, while others resist the flames altogether. This teaches that, while we all stood at Mt. Sinai and we all heard the Voice of G-d, not everyone reacts in the same manner. It all depends on us.

Whether our souls will be like oil and rise to a glorious flame when it comes into contact with the fire of Torah, or be like iron and resist it, or like water and extinguish the flame altogether, is our choice. How we respond to Torah is the most critical decision that we can make – it is life determining and will define our days on this planet. So let us ask ourselves, “How combustible are our souls? How do they react to the fiery words of G-d?”

King Solomon, the wisest of all men, taught that a man can be recognized by that which makes him enthusiastic, passionate, and by that which makes him run. So again, let us ask ourselves, “What makes us run? What makes us excited Torah or money? Torah or a gourmet meal? Torah or sports? The answer to these questions will help us to gauge our “neshamah quotients.”

We are living in pre-messianic times. We need only open our eyes and see the constant danger enveloping us internally and globally. We are the generation that is experiencing assimilation, family breakdown, dread disease and horrific natural disasters. Globally, we are witness to the escalation of anti-Semitism and the constant threat of another Holocaust.

What can we do? How can we protect ourselves from the impending calamity?

Our sages offer a three-fold formula, the first, La’asok B’Torah, to make Torah your occupation, your very life. It depends upon how combustible our neshamos are, for that is the first key to triumphing over chevlei Mashiach, the painful labor pangs of the pre-messianic period. But is it realistic to believe that each and every one of us can elevate his neshamah to such a level?

Yes, and again we turn to our Torah for guidance. “In the heart of every man who has wisdom, G-d promises, “I will grant wisdom.” This is rather paradoxical, for if wisdom is a prerequisite for wisdom, what is the poor man who lacks it to do?

The wisdom that G-d refers to, however, is not based on I.Q. or absorption of information, but it is to be found in a yearning…. an insatiable desire to know the Word of G-d. In converting our souls into combustible material, capable of catching the fiery words of Hashem’s Torah, if we yearn for that gift, to appreciate G-d’s Torah, if we desire its illumination, if we beseech Him to teach us His holy words, then yes, our hearts will be overtaken by that flame and we will become living examples of G-d’s Word on Earth.

This week I received e-mail from a young woman who spent Shavuos in Jerusalem and was touched by a small spark of that fire from Sinai.

A Letter from Israel

Shavuos here was totally out of this world. I think it really may be my favorite holiday. There is no way to put into words the experience; you have to feel it yourself. That said, let me share a few highlights with you:

Walking to the Old City at around 1:30 a.m., the streets were packed with people, and there was this happy glow in the air. The thousands and thousands of people come later, around 4 a.m. or so, to be at the Kotel at sunrise. But I wanted to go early for the all-night classes and amazing energy of the Old City. There were so many good classes going on all night, with so many of the best teachers, so there was an energy of people popping from one class to the other.

Finally, at about 3:30, I decided, instead of going to another class, to take some quiet time for myself to sit, and reflect on what the Chag means to me, and what receiving the Torah means for me, and to talk to G-d about it. Then, at around 4:20, I went down to the Kotel, and miraculously got very close to the Wall. It was an unexpected gift, because the entire plaza was packed with thousands of people.

Davening there at sunrise was beyond words. And, just as the sun peeked through and the first moments of light shined on us, the entire area became totally silent, everyone in their own personal meditation, and for a few moments, you could almost hear a pin drop.

At exactly that moment, hundreds of doves flew above our heads. I have no idea where they came from. It was a real high, beyond description. All I can say is that, I can’t really explain it, but what emerged from really being in the experience of Shavuos and receiving the Torah was an inner transformation. Not some big dramatic thing, not something that would probably be apparent to anyone, but within me, I can feel it.

I know that is what all the holidays are supposed to do, but I don’t always experience it in a conscious way. This Shavuos, I understood what that means.

Oh, and one last note. This is one of those little fuzzy feelings that make me love the Jewish people. There were tables set up all over, just outside the Old City, with drinks, water, juice, sodas, cups, rugalach and cookies. Private individuals just figured that people might be thirsty from the long walk, and took it upon themselves to provide drinks and snacks for us at no cost. This was just another expression of this sense here that we are all family and naturally want to care for another.

I heard a beautiful teaching from a Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson, that each moment in our lives is an opportunity to receive the Torah, to accept G-d’s presence in our lives – or the opposite. Only a G-d that loves us with an infinite love would give us a choice like this. No matter how far away we feel, every single moment is another chance to return to who we really are.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “What Did You Take Away From Shavuos?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Who will he take to the dance?
It’s Prom Time, and Abbas Must Choose a Dance Partner – Israel or Hamas
Latest Judaism Stories
Reiss-041814-King

Amazingly, each and every blade was green and moist as if it was just freshly cut.

PTI-041814

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

Leff-041814

Someone who focuses only on the bones of the Torah makes his bones dry and passionless.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

We have windows of history, of Yom Tovim, but the dust continues to obscure our vision.

On Shabbos Zachor the Torah commands us to “Remember what Amalek did to you.”

We should invite divorced people into our homes for Shabbas and Yom tov.

I attended the recent Shabboton for frum divorced people and listened to your talk. You gave me hope to go on. I was very despondent when I came and went home considerably more upbeat. It was all due to your focus on “being a blessing.”

One can sigh with relief when the divorce is finalized but the heart is full and it aches with pain. Yes, there were conflicts. Yes, there was a cold war that made for a frigid atmosphere in the home. But loneliness is a very difficult thing to bear.

My ex despises me and is bent on destroying me. He has done everything to torture me.

The Torah tells us that ancient Egypt had 49 levels of contaminating impurities and Hashem wanted us out before the fiftieth would become viral.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/what-did-you-take-away-from-shavuos/2009/06/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: