We are now standing in the “Sheloshes Y’mei Hagbalah” – the three days of preparation for receiving the Torah once again on Shavuos. Let us discover a unique aspect of this day which will help us gain the most from it, not only now, but all year long.
We have previously pointed out (February 7, 2014) that there are three different parts of Shabbos, corresponding to the three greatest revelations of Hashem’s Glory in this world. Friday night corresponds to Shabbos Bereishis, the time when Hashem caused His Glory to dwell in this world. Shabbos morning is parallel to the Shabbos when we received the Torah. And finally, Shabbos afternoon corresponds to the Shabbos of the World to Come, when the Oneness of Hashem will be clearly revealed. In the last few articles we discussed Friday night; now we will focus on the connection of Shabbos Matan Torah to Shabbos morning.
“Tzena u’rena b’nos tziyon bamelech Shlomo, ba’atarah she’itrah lo imo, beyom chasunaso u’beyom simchas libo – Go out and gaze, Daughters of Zion, at King Shlomo, at the crown which His mother adorned Him with on His wedding day and on the day His heart was gladdened”(Shir Hashirim, 3:11). Rashi tells us that Shlomo HaMelech represents Hashem, “his mother” represents Klal Yisroel, and the wedding day represents the day we received the Torah. On that day we crowned Hashem as King and accepted His sovereignty. Why do we refer to it as our wedding day?
Let us first explain the stages of marriage. The first stage is called kedushin (betrothal). The chosson gives the kallah a small amount of money or its equivalent (such as a ring) and says that he is mikadesh her. By doing so, he sets her aside from the whole world, but she still does not enter his home.
The next stage is called nissuin (marriage) and the bride leaves her father’s home and enters the jurisdiction of her husband. In the first stage, there is a great distance between the couple. Now that she has entered her husband’s domain, they become extremely close.
The same thing happened in our relationship with Hashem. Rashi tells us (Breishis 1:1) that Hashem created the world for Klal Yisroel. This is equivalent to kedushin, where the chosson separates the kallah from the whole world. Hashem created the world as a place for us to find Him and get close to Him. Since it was still unclear how that would happen, there was a distance between us and our beloved Hashem. This is why Shabbos Bereishis corresponds to Shabbos night, a time of darkness and obscurity. But when morning arrives, the time when we received the Torah, everything becomes clear and all barriers fall away. This closeness is the equivalence of the nissuin stage which we can understand on several levels.
First, the Torah gives us clear guidelines on how to live our entire lives – from the very first breath we take until our last. And the Torah doesn’t only speak to generations of old, it deals with every situation that may arise, even in our modern day and age.
In addition, the actual revelation that occurred at the time Hashem gave us the Torah provided a clear understanding of the point of the creation. How is that so?
It is quite obvious that since Bnei Yisrael “saw” Hashem’s glory that experience was not a physical one at all. Indeed, the pasuk states (20:18) “V’chol ha’am ro’im es hakolos – and the entire nation saw the sounds.” The Midrash tells us that since it does not say “and they heard the sounds,” we learn that they actually saw what is normally heard. What does it mean to “see sounds”? The Nefesh HaChaim (3:11) explains that everything in this world was created by the ten statements that Hashem made during creation, and is also kept in existence through those “words.” Because we were elevated to such a spiritual level, we were actually able to see those words.
Chazal continue that we also heard what is normally seen. The Nefesh HaChaim explains that we were so spiritually elevated that we could not see the physical world anymore. It was similar to trying to describe a scene to a blind man! Thus, we only heard this world. Once we were on this level, we saw clearly all the inner workings of the world and had absolutely no doubts about Hashem’s sovereignty and rule. As a result, we were filled with a great desire to become close to Him.
But it goes even further. In the beginning of Shir Hashirim (1:2) we say: “Yishakeni m’nishikos piyhu – He shall kiss me with kisses from His mouth.” We beseech Hashem to kiss us once again, just as He kissed us once with two kisses. The Vilna Gaon explains that these two kisses refer to the two commandments we heard directly from Hashem’s “mouth.” This sign of love was something beyond our wildest dreams. The Master of the World spoke directly to us without any intermediary! But it wasn’t just a momentary rendezvous – at that moment we received the Torah that gave us the ability to continue that bond.
This is the true joy of Shavuos: The Torah we received on this day is not a book of rules; rather, it is our connection to Hashem and the only way to reach the World to Come. That is because our share in the World to Come is determined by the closeness to Him we attain in this world. Without the Torah we would have no way to achieve that closeness.
But our joy is even greater. It is obvious that Hashem doesn’t give impossible missions. If He commands us to do something, then obviously we are able to do it. In truth, the seforim tell us that each year we not only receive the Torah but the strength to fulfill it.
The more joy we show on the day of Shavuos, the more ability Hashem will give us to learn and fulfill it. So when we eat our Shavuos delicacies, let us do so to celebrate receiving the Torah, not merely because we love eating Bubby’s famous cheesecake!
Let us return to Shabbos morning. We can use this time, which corresponds to Shabbos Matan Torah, to show Hashem how happy we are to have His Torah all year long. First, when we say in Shemoneh Esreh of Shachris: “Yismach Moshe b’matnas Chelko – Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion,” let us say it with feeling and realize that we also have the same reason to rejoice. Second, when enjoying the cholent at a kiddush after davening or during the seudah, take a moment to think – this is the chasuna seudah when we rejoice with our Beloved Hashem whom we just “married” through the Torah.
And last, but not least, let’s make sure to learn Torah on Shabbos day. Last year (May 24, 2013, “A Time for Torah”) we discussed why learning on Shabbos is so important. Now we have another explanation: Shabbos is similar to Shavuos because it commemorates the giving of the Torah. So, just as we learn Torah on Shavuos to celebrate that great event, we do the same on Shabbos.
May we all merit to truly get the most from Chag Matan Toraseinu!